The historicality of cognition: Implications for science education research



This article discusses the growing consensus across diverse educational research domains that the historical aspects of cognition are important for understanding not only how individuals but also disciplines know what they know. After proposing and defining the new superordinate concept of historicality, fundamental interrelationships between time, events, memory, meaning, personal knowledge, public knowledge, and the histories of the sciences are explored. Relevant research findings that demonstrate the confluence of scholarly thought concerning historicality across five educationally important domains are presented for the reader's consideration. Using the historicality concept, it is suggested that the histories of the sciences be considered as “the collective mind of scientists” and viewed as vital to developing students' knowledge about science by building upon the critical distinctions drawn by Duschl (1990). The author's science teaching technique, based upon construction of historical vignettes, is introduced here because of the relationship between history and story and the documented educational effectiveness of the story format. Finally, the author adds several cautionary notes about the validity of explanations based upon historicality and anticipates future advances in our understanding of the historicality of cognition.