Contextual settings, science stories, and large context problems: Toward a more humanistic science education



This article addresses the need for and the problem of organizing a science curriculum around contextual settings and science stories that serve to involve and motivate students to develop an understanding of the world that is rooted in the scientific and the humanistic traditions. A program of activities placed around contextual settings, science stories, and contemporary issues of interest is recommended in an attempt to move toward a slow and secure abolition of the gulf between scientific knowledge and “common sense” beliefs. A conceptual development model is described to guide the connection between theory and evidence on a level appropriate for children, from early years to senior years. For the senior years it is also important to connect the activity of teaching to a sound theoretical structure. The theoretical structure must illuminate the status of theory in science, establish what counts as evidence, clarify the relationship between experiment and explanation, and make connections to the history of science. The article concludes with a proposed program of activities in terms of a sequence of theoretical and empirical experiences that involve contextual settings, science stories, large context problems, thematic teaching, and popular science literature teaching. © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.