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Science Teaching Should Reflect Scientific Values

Science is more than a body of knowledge and a way of accumulating and validating that knowledge. It is also a social activity that incorporates certain human values. Holding curiosity, creativity, imagination, and beauty in high esteem is certainly not confined to science, mathematics, and engineering―any more than skepticism and a distaste for dogmatism are. However, they are all highly characteristic of the scientific endeavor. In learning science, students should encounter such values as part of their experience, not as empty claims. This suggests that teachers should strive to do the following:

Welcome Curiosity

Science, mathematics, and technology do not create curiosity. They accept it, foster it, incorporate it, reward it, and discipline it―and so does good science teaching. Thus, science teachers should encourage students to raise questions about the material being studied, help them learn to frame their questions clearly enough to begin to search for answers, suggest to them productive ways for finding answers, and reward those who raise and then pursue unusual but relevant questions. In the science classroom, wondering should be as highly valued as knowing.

Reward Creativity

Scientists, mathematicians, and engineers prize the creative use of imagination. The science classroom ought to be a place where creativity and invention―as qualities distinct from academic excellence―are recognized and encouraged. Indeed, teachers can express their own creativity by inventing activities in which students' creativity and imagination will pay off.

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