AIMS OF TEACHING SCIENCE –A COMPARATIVE STUDY
The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University, Sadar,
Kamalghat, Tripura (West), 799210
Gandhiji had said, “By education, I mean an overall all around drawing out of the best in child and man, in body, mind, and spirit.” According to Aristotle, “Education is the creation of a sound mind in a sound body”. It encompasses in itself the all round development of an individual. The success of spreading education to the widest possible area lies in the way it is imparted. Every pilot has a route-chart and set timing of landing at predetermined destination. There is constitution or set of Principles and traditions, through which a country is governed similarly, there should be properly defined and declared principles, aims and objectives of education or the basis of which policies and programmes of education have to be formulated to achieve the set goals without wasting scarce energies and resources in chasing the wild goose. With the ever changing technology scenario, the methods of imparting education too have been undergoing changes. The aims of education have been categorized variously by different scholars. But all round development has been considered as the first and foremost aim of education by the entire great ancient and modern thinker. Pestalozzi is of the view “Education is natural, harmonious and progressive development of man’s innate powers.” Education facilitates us to control our emotions, to feel will and woe at the right moment, give the right direction and the final sublimation of instincts. It creates responsible and erudite citizens. It helps to prepare the kids for their future life since today’s kids are the tomorrow’s responsible citizen. Naturalists believe that instincts of the child should be taken as the basis of education. The child should have freedom and the pioneers who lead them from the front should not lessen their self-confidence. Rabindra Nath Tagore was of the opinion that child should be left free in order to gather experience and to understand his own mistakes and shortcomings.
The twentieth century brought the concept of Pragmatism. Charles Pierce was the first chap to introduce the concept of pragmatism in his philosophy. Later on it was popularized by John Dewey, William James, Kilpatrick and Schiller. They believed that the external world is real and the reality is being constantly created and is always changing. Knowledge and truth is one and the same thing according to them. With whatever the approach towards education we have acquainted one thing we all agree is that Education is for the betterment of the individual and in the long run for the benefit of the society. Education helps us prepare ourselves for the life ahead. Darwin gave the theory of the ‘survival of the fittest by natural selection’; we can pronounce in a way that education prepares the entity for the struggle of life for his own survival.
Despite the fact that the present days are the age of modern technology which provides us the facilities of internet at our home to go through the libraries, books, journals, and many more advanced publications of the world, it is difficult for the students to get an overall view of certain topics in their syllabus. Because, to gather a concrete knowledge of certain facts using different ways is still a time consuming task. And for number of factors surfing in the internet for a long time may also mislead your kids. Because numbers of parent are not aware about their kids actually what they are doing in the internet.
Scientific inquiry is an opportunity for students to gain insights not only into science concepts and principles, but also into the ways in which scientists think and operate when they acquire knowledge about nature. Classifications of the goals for laboratory instruction clearly reflect these two aspects of practical work in science education, listing among other areas “the promotion of scientific thinking and the scientific method” and “the development of conceptual understanding.” These classifications have contributed significantly to clarifying the role of practical experimental work in science education. In addition, studies investigating the aims that teachers pursue in experiments have provided precise empirical information so that it is possible, as Hofstein and Lunetta have called for, “to identify optimal activities and experiences from all modes of instruction that will best facilitate these goals”.
Comparisons can provide students with opportunities to engage in the processes of investigation and inquiry. Nevertheless, there is a lack of empirical information on the question which aims should be considered important in comparisons by the teachers, and which instructional modes will facilitate these goals most effectively. Still, the present study aims at clarifying the concept of aims of teaching science in the classroom.
Purpose of the study:
This paper refers to the aims of the science teaching that are studied in various books that are related to teaching of science. What types of aims those are emphasized in the science books? Why students should make study the science subjects? How these aims are beneficial for the teachers as well as to the students? To take out a good abstract of aims for teaching science it is therefore recommended to study the various advanced science teaching books to know the reason behind teaching science. It will also assist to adopt good curricular practices and innovative ideas that could improve the understanding as well as development of proper values in the students. To make the analysis and comparison more meaningful, this paper includes a brief outlines of the aims of total 17 books where individual chapter deals with the aims of teaching science. This type of study is necessary to examine the good curricular practice that can be implemented among the students.
The present study focuses on the comparative method, which is considered a major mode of scientific inquiry by science theorists. Mayr, for example, underlines its importance as an alternative to experimentation and estimates that it has brought forth “more insights than all experiments combined.”
Comparisons have two main functions in the teaching of science: On the one hand, they can be used as a source of information in order to develop the students’ knowledge and comprehension of the subject matter. As an alternative to experimentation, on the other hand, the comparative method is a major mode of scientific inquiry and can be used to familiarize students with basic ways of thinking and operating in science. Intending to clarify the dual role of comparisons, this study investigates which aims and objectives teachers consider important when they teach their students in the class of science and also, developing the ability to argue scientifically and promoting knowledge about the comparative method as a research method.
A brief comparative description of the aims and its related features in the books studied:
Although all the books shared the same concern on the aims but some of the books differs significantly in the terms of focus and emphasis, information to particular concepts, related terminologies etc with the remaining books.
Features relating to aims of teaching science:
Promila Sharma wrote briefly on the Knowledge aim, practical aim, towards development of scientific attitudes, Cultural aim, Social aim, Providing basis for vocational carrier, Utilization of leisure time, Psychological aim, Helpful in the study of other subjects, Development of abilities and skills in her book Teaching of Life Science. The concepts and the wordings of these mentioned aims are almost written same by the book Teaching of Science by S.R. Joshi. Only difference in aims between these two books are that S.R. Joshi Wrote three more aims namely Training for better living , Scientific appreciation, and towards training in scientific method along with their brief explanation in his book. At the same time Knowledge aim, Practical aim, development of scientific attitudes, Cultural aim, Social aim, vocational aim, Utilization of leisure time, Psychological aim, skill aim; these aims were also represented exactly in a similar way by the book Modern Teaching of Chemistry by Man Pal Singh.
The seminar held at Tara Devi Hills in 1956 on the topic, “Science Teaching in secondary School”, recommendations made by Kothari Commission in 1966 followed by the observations of the National Policy on Education, attempted to introduce aims of teaching science at different stages of school education. Based on this attempt the books, Teaching of Life Science by Promila Sharma and Teaching of Science by S.R. Joshi, highlighted nearly the same write up concerned with the aims at different stages of education. Headlines related to these concepts were aims of teaching science at Primary Stages (Class I to IV), At Middle or Higher Primary Stage (Class V to VII), At Lower Secondary Stage (Class VIII to IX), At Higher Secondary Stage (Class XI to XII). The books Method of Teaching Science by Kandi Jaya Sree and Digumarti Bhaskara Rao and Modern Teaching of Science by S.M. Zaidi also highlighted the same concept but with somewhat different way of writing skill under the headlines of aims of teaching science in the stage of Primary (I-V), Middle (VI-VIII), Secondary (IX – X), senior secondary (XI-XII).
The features related to the aims of teaching science mentioned here is unique in its expression and by no means it is similar with the other books in their expression style.
S.M. Zaidi in his book Modern Teaching of Life Sciences, focused a few words concerning to the aims of teaching science.
S.R. Joshi in his book Teaching of Science mentioned in detail about the aims of teaching Science. Related to the aims the headlines of the book was- the broad aims of science teaching, Knowledge aim, Practical aim, Towards development of scientific attitudes, Cultural aim, Social aim, Providing basis for vocational carrier, Utilization of leisure time, Psychological aim, Helpful in the study of other subjects, Development of abilities and skills, Training for better living, Towards training in scientific method, and Scientific appreciation.
Mean while Sagheer Mehdi in his book Modern Teaching of Biology scripted a comprehensive note on aims of teaching science under the headline’ Why should we teach science?’. Mehdi also explained in brief about the aims namely Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Scientific Method., Scientific Attitude., Interest, Appreciation, Habit formation, Career specialization, and Use of leisure in his book.
B.N. Dash in his book Teaching of Science wrote in detail about the aims of teaching science from the point of view of Wetkins, Croxton, and Dr. R.N. Rai ( Head of the Department, Science Education, NCERT, Delhi) and also according to National Policy on Education (1992).
In 1950 a report was published by ministry of education, Govt. of India which listed the aims of teaching of science in schools. These aims were included by Salil Tripathi in his book Teaching of Physical Science.
Radha Mohan in his book Innovative Science Teaching explained the aims of teaching physical science in terms of towards helping the student fit themselves in the society, towards development of interest.
According to the book Modern Teaching of Biology by Sagheer Mehdi teaching of life science has certain aims and objectives as
Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Scientific Method., Scientific Attitude., Interest, Appreciation, Habit formation, Career specialization, Use of leisure, better living. And Mehdi elaborately described these aims to meet the demand of the students.
In the book Teaching Science by Steve Aslop and Keith Hicks, aims of teaching was explained under the headline Reasons for teaching science. The book viewed the aims from the view point of Black (1993), and The initial teacher training (ITT) National Curriculum for Secondary Science (Department of Education and Employment (DfEE), 1998a).
A holistic approach to the aims of teaching science:
In general every book on science teaching must invariably focus on the following aims.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1.<!–[endif]–>Knowledge aim
knowledge is the first and foremost aim of teaching science.Knowledge can be stated as the act or state of knowing; clear perception of fact, truth, or duty; certain apprehension; familiar cognizance; cognition.
Teaching of science should aim for the necessary increase in the span of one’s knowledge regarding science helping him to understand himself and his environment as accurately a possible. The start may be made at primary level with the awareness of simple facts and principle used and observed in day to day life and is a ever ending process. The sphere of this awareness may be progressively increased in the higher classes.
Nowadays more stress is laid on the organization of knowledge in the form of conceptual schemes so that the student can have real understanding of that subject matter rather than rote memorization. Knowledge in the form of facts, concepts and generalization should be organized from simple to complex, teaching should be activity base and it should be investigatory rather than illustrative.
2. Practical aim
Practical experience is the first hand knowledge that is strongly remains in our mind for long time. It is obligatory on the part of a science teacher to teach practical aspects of the all the principles and knowledge imparted to the students. The students should not know only about the scientific principles and facts, but should also be able to use them practically in understanding their selves and environment surrounding them.
3. Towards development of scientific attitudes
Having a scientific attitude consists in being willing to accept only carefully and objectively verified facts, and to hold a single fact above the authority of the oldest theories. Nothing can be called scientific that is not based on such an attitude.
Science education should aim for the development of scientific attitudes among the learners. It should strive to remove the superstitions, false beliefs; wrong notions spread in the society and cultivate the habits of proper reasoning, observation and experimentation, leading to affirm belief in the testing and verification of facts. It should provide proper opportunity for the development of scientific temperament and attitude among the students. It should create a spirit of curiosity for knowing about new things, discovering their environment and penetrating deeply into the nature of the things and events surrounding them,. The students should be trained to adopt scientific methods of thinking and solving problems. In general the students should begin to develop scientific attitude characterized by –
• Open mindedness.
• Honest doubts.
• Respect for another’s point of view.
• Critical observation and thought.
• Freedom from superstitions.
• Judgment made on scientific facts.
• Faith in cause and effect relationship
• A planned procedure in solving problems.
A scientific attitude involves several things but some major are;
(a) .Mathematical accuracy: Students should observe mathematical accuracy never type of collection and analysis of data.
(b) Observation: Students should observe things critically. Their perceptions should have meanings and observations should be explained by applying the knowledge one has acquired.
(c) Verification: Students should try to verify the claims of other people and they should not accept those as such. One should not believe the tall claims of quacks about their medicines but should have a desire to test and verify those.
(d) Impartiality: Students should be impartial towards events and phenomena. Analysis and interpretation of data should be undertaken objectively. Data should not be manipulated and results of experiments not be influenced by personal prejudice or bias.
(e) Experimentation: Students should have a desire to undertake experiments and should not draw conclusions based on anticipations. I order to get accurate results controlled experiments should also be set up.
4. Cultural aim
The development of a culture and civilization of a country is essentially linked with the progress and improvement in the study of sciences. The countries ahead in the study of sciences are known to have quite developed civilization and rich cultural aspect. In fact civilization owes much to the development of science and technology and there fore, if we want to go ahead in the matter of the development of civilization and culture, we have to strive for bringing progressive improvement in the study of sciences.
The key for utilizing what science has given us lies in the way and manner science is being taught in our schools. Thus, science should be taught to grasp the progress in the field of sciences, apply it for the enhancement of our cultural heritage and development of our civilization and appreciate the contribution of the study of science in the progress and development of the culture and civilization.
5. Social aim
Social, aim of education in equally important because an individual lives in society and has his obligations towards his nation. There is a realisation that, “The present education system does riot yield required results mainly because it is divorced from the real social content and social goals”.
It has, therefore, been suggested that education should be able, to discharge its natural functions and must correspond to its structure, goals and content in the interest of national development and social progress. It has also been suggested in this connection that students from young age should be made aware of the social responsibility cast on them.
Study of science should also aim in the development of social virtues among the students for leading a well adjusted social life and contributing significantly towards the welfare and progress of society. Tit should help a child to adjust socially and contributes towards the progress of his society, nation and humanity at large. He must also be made to understand that the welfare of his self is completely interlinked with the welfare of the society. The child should be help to imbibe good social qualities and help him to use the knowledge and skill of science for the progress and improvement of the society. The child with the help of the science must understand the evils of the misuse of science and technology which could lead to total annihilation of mankind.
6. Providing basis for vocational carrier
Science education should strive to guide an individual to earn his livelihood. This can be done by understanding the utilities of science and that the key of almost all the professions and vocations lies in the knowledge and proficiency achieved in the field of science. Science education should plan to prepare our youngster’s to earn their livelihood by learning the essential facts and principles of science, studying relevant courses of study and preparing himself for choosing, entering and achieving success in various vocations for prosperity of the self and the nation.
7. Utilization of leisure time
Science education must also aims in helping the students to learn ways and means for utilizing the leisure hours fruitfully. It should provide ways to derive entertainment from nature and technological advancement. It must aim to cultivate useful scientific hobbies for the profitable utilization of one’s leisure time such as photography, gardening, repairs of electrical gadgets and hobbies related to day to day appliances, initiate creative and exploratory projects.
8. Psychological aim
Psychology contributes to a better understanding of the aims of education by defining them, making them clearer; by limiting them, showing us what can be done and what can not; and by suggesting new features that should be made parts of them.
Psychology makes ideas of educational aims clearer. When one says that the aim of education is culture, or discipline, or efficiency, or happiness, or utility, or knowledge, or skill, or the perfection of all one’s powers, or development, one’s statements and probably one’s thoughts, need definition. Different people, even amongst the clearest-headed of them, do not agree concerning just what culture is, or just what is useful. Psychology helps here by requiring us to put our notions of the aims of education into terms of the exact changes that education is to make, and by describing for us the changes which do actually occur in human beings.
Psychology helps to measure the probability that an aim is attainable. A complete science of psychology would tell every fact about every one’s intellect and character and behavior, would tell the cause of every change in human nature, would tell the result which every educational force –every act of every person that changed any other or the agent himself –would have.
Children have excessive curiosity for knowing and investigating the things and events around them. They want to do things with their own hand and verify their truth to actual observations and experimentation. Science education is capable of providing proper opportunities for all the students in satisfying their varying Psychological needs and diversified interests.
9. Helpful in the study of other subjects
The subjects’ taught in the other schools strive in their own ways to achieve the purposes or aims of education. They have many things in common with regard to the contents, nature and purposes. There fore the study in one subject is directly or indirectly, influenced by the study in other subjects. The study of science must be planned in such a way that we may derive necessary help from the study of other subjects for studying science and also may utilize the knowledge of science in studying other subject of the school curriculum.
10. Development of abilities and skills
Study of science at all level should essentially aim to develop useful skills and abilities pertaining to scientific observation, experimentation and practical use of scientific facts and principles. Although, we can’t expect a very high degree of manual proficiency and technical skills from the children studying in the schools, yet we may safely aim to cultivate the habit of doing things independently, to observe and experiment by handling suitable appliances and instrument and to infer and draw conclusions in a very systematic and scientific way.
Exposure to scientific concepts both in the class room and in the laboratory leads to the acquisition of following skills in the pupil:
(a) Experimental skills of handling apparatus and instrument; arranging apparatus for an experiment and preserving chemicals, apparatus etc.
(b) Constructional skills of making improvised aids; making minor repairs when things go wrong in the laboratory.
(c) Drawing skills involving drawing diagrams of experiments done and specimens observed.
(d) Observational skills like taking readings and noting colour changes.
Abilities: Teaching of science should also aim at developing certain abilities such as abilities to sense problems, organization and interpretation of data, analysis and drawing of generalizations or conclusions. Students studying life science should be able to locate reliable source for data collection. They should also be able to argue, discuss and use the terminology in the subject. Students should also be able to apply their acquired knowledge in solving their daily life problems
Skills: Teaching of sciences also aims at developing certain skills in the students. These may be experimental, constructional and drawing skills. In experimental skills we can include handling of apparatus that are used in life science practical and setting of experiments. We can also make students learn collection, culturing and preservation of plant and animal organisms. In constructional skill we can teach the students making of some simple apparatus that can be used for experiments as light screens for photosynthesis experiments or some glass apparatus or preparation of certain stains or preservatives and molds etc in developing drawing skills we can teach the methods of drawing of figures of plants and animals and their internal structures. They ca also ask to prepare certain charts of organisms and systems.
11. Training for better living
The students of science should know the laws of health and hygiene and should be given training in healthful living. from the knowledge of science , they can know the usefulness of ventilation , morning walks, sun rays and vitamins, sanitation, vegetables and nutrients etc. they should be thought to take care of the body and to improve their surroundings, there by improving the standard of living. They should know the ways and means of prevention and eradication of diseases and should be able to adjust themselves with their own domestic, social and physical environment and the economic, social and cultural conditions of the country.
12. Scientific appreciation
The content in the science if develop in the evolutionary manner would reveal the fascinating historical and biographical incidents of great scientist, stories of scientific romance, adventures, feelings and emotions. All these provide for emotional satisfaction and develop emotional depth. Appreciation cannot be taught as such, as it develops from understandings and attitudes. History of science, biographies of scientists and impact of modern sciences on human lives provide ample scope for appreciations. The capacities of appreciations enables the pupils to realize the significance of various discoveries and their impact on human life and society, to value the sacrifices and painstaking efforts made and hardship undertaken by scientists in the course of their discoveries, to get excitements and thrill at every scientific achievements, to show eagerness to convey their jobs and thrills to others, to show respects and admiration for great scientists and to realize the importance of science in human progress.
13. Towards training in scientific method
Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on observable, empirical, measurable evidence, and subject to laws of reasoning. All such evidence is collectively called scientific evidence.
Student of science get training in the use of scientific method by performing experiments themselves in the laboratory; and by observing experimental demonstrations arranged by the teacher for them. The scientific method involves:
• The appreciation of the existence of a problems and a desire to solve it.
• The accumulation of the facts and data which are pertinent to the problem.
• The formation of hypothesis as partial explanations, their testing and their acceptance and rejection.
• Logical interpretation of the data supported by adequate valid experience.
As a result of science education, the student should habitually and skillfully employ sound thinking habits, in meeting problem situations in the daily life. He should be able to adopt following steps in solving a problem in any sphere of his life. The steps involved are:
• Sensing a problem.
• Defining a problem.
• Collecting relevant evidence.
• Organizing and interpreting the data.
• Formulating the hypothesis.
• Testing its validity and accuracy.
• Drawing rational conclusions.
14.Towards development of interest: The teaching of science should enable a student to develop and enjoy personal interests, some of which are related to science. The student should be able to recognize and enjoy some scientific aspects of their natural and man made environment. The student could be encouraged by including the science curriculum varied activities like science clubs, exhibitions, excursions, and the like.
15. Towards helping the student fit themselves in the society: The science curriculum gives extensive practice in working together, both in large and small groups’ thus promoting cooperation and tolerance, besides enhancing self-confidence and self-reliance among the students. The students gain practice in conducting their project etc., independently while having increased contacts with outside work.
Conclusion: Due to the advancement of science and technology and Globalization, the world today is becoming a network of global village. The acceleration of the life is very high now. There for people do not like to waste much of their time since they have a lot to do to achieve their best. In this regard it is very important to convey the realistic and value oriented aims to the students for the reason why should we make study the science subjects. Then only this proper motivation will lead the future of the country to the highest possible peak of success from the national goal point of view.
According to the Radhakrishnan Commission (1948-49),
“The most important and urgent reform needed in education is to transform it, to endeavor to relate it to the life, needs and aspirations of the people and thereby make it the powerful instrument of social, economic and cultural transformation necessary for the realization of the national goals. For this purpose, education should be developed so as to increase productivity, achieve social and national integration, accelerate the process of modernization and cultivate social, moral and spiritual values.”
If we can understand well this message and can convey to the growing generation about the significance of it then the development of science and technology and acquisition of the proper education is not far away from us in the country.
By Sanjoy Deka