In the years to come, the impact on science and technology on our lives is very likely to continue to increase. Scientific and technological expertise, skills and resources are invading every area of life in our modern society, both the workplace and the public sphere are increasingly dependent on new and more mature technologies. The private sphere and our leisure time are the same as that. For most of our actions and decisions, science and technology knowledge and skills are essential as workers, as voters, as customers, etc. Science curricula are key factors in the development and support of the interest of pupils in science.
The shortcomings of traditional curricula that still prevail in most countries appear to be broadly agreed upon. The implicit picture of science that these curricula convey is that it is essentially a massive body of authoritative and unquestionable information. Many curricula and textbooks, at the cost of the focus on a few’ big ideas’ and key principles, are filled with facts and information. There seems to be an attempt to cover many, if not all, aspects of existing academic science, with no reason whatsoever for teaching this content in schools that serve the entire age cohort. On each page of most textbooks, several new words and’ exotic’ ideas are added. Although very few pupils are going to pursue further science studies, training for such studies tends to be a guiding principle of the curriculum. Repetition often occurs, with the same concepts and laws being presented year after year. These curricula and textbooks frequently contribute to rote learning without any deeper understanding to make most pupils bored and grow a lifelong aversion to science. Modern societies need people with top-level science and technology skills as well as the general public with a broad understanding of science and technology content, strategies and as a future-oriented social force.
Science and technology are human history’s major cultural commodities. All people need to be familiar with this part of human society, regardless of occupational’ needs. Science and Technology is critical for economic well-being, but also seen from the viewpoint of a broad-based liberal education Our communities are dominated and even powered’ by science and technology ideas and goods, and it is very likely that the impact of science and technology on our lives will continue to increase in the years to come. Invade all realms of life in modern society by scientific and technological knowledge, skills and artifacts: Increasingly, the workforce and the community are relying on new and more developed technologies. So it is the personal domain as well as our leisure time. For most of our actions and decisions, science and technology knowledge and skills are important as workers, as citizens, as users, etc. Modern democracies ‘ meaningful and independent participation assumes the ability to judge the evidence and arguments associated with the many socio-scientific issues that appear on the political agenda.
In short, modern societies need high-level people with scientific and technological skills as well as a general public with a broad understanding of science and technology contents and processes, combined with an insight into their position as the social forces that shape the future. Science and technology are major cultural products of human history and should be known to all people as elements of human culture, regardless of their occupational’ needs.’ While science and technology are obviously important for economic well-being, they must also be seen from a wide-ranging liberal education perspective.
The need for researchers (and teachers) to maintain research at a high international level and train future generations of experts, researchers and teachers are similar for universities and research institutions.
It is therefore important for industry, universities and other research-based organizations to attract a highly qualified elite. However, even in a highly industrialized society, the size of that elite may be quite modest, and it would be a mistake to consider this group primarily when reforming education in science and technology within schools.
To universities and research institutions, the need for researchers (and educators) to maintain high-level research and educate future generations of experts, researchers and teachers are different.
Therefore, attracting a highly qualified elite is critical for industry, universities and other research-based organizations. Nevertheless, the size of that elite may be quite small, even in a highly industrialized society, and it would be a mistake to consider this class exclusively when improving science and technology education in schools.
Science and technology education are required for participation as a citizen in a democracy.
Science and technology dominate modern society, and people, functioning as consumers and voters, face a range of issues related to science and technology. As consumers, we have to make decisions about food and health, product quality and features, advertising claims, etc. They need to take a stand as voters and be able to judge cases relevant to a wide range of issues. There is also a scientific and/or technical element to many of these political issues.
In such situations, it is important to combine a knowledge of applied science or technology with principles and political ideals. Environmental issues are of this sort, of course, but so are issues related to a wide range of other topics, including energy, traffic, and health policy. It is crucial that social and political problems are not considered’ technical’ and are therefore left in the hands of’ experts.’ Essential democratic defense against’ scientism’ and expert hegemony is a broad public understanding of science and technology. The above ‘democratic argument’ for scientific and technological education assumes that people have some understanding of the concepts and principles of science and technology as well as the nature of science and technology and the role they play in society. People need to know, among many other things, that scientific knowledge is focused on argumentation and proof, and that statistical risk factors play an important role in drawing conclusions. In short, while it is not necessary for everyone to become an expert, everyone should have the analytical tools to be able to judge that expert and what kind of claims to trust.