'Technoscience' Education: Empowering Citizens Against the Tyranny of School Science

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The status quo for school science and technology is unacceptable. While the former often is required for admission to university engineering, as well as to science programmes, the latter is deemed most appropriate for less able, concrete thinkers. This situation persists, despite the fact school science tends to generate large groups of citizens who are relatively scientifically and technologically illiterate, largely as a result of its preoccupation with identifying and training potential scientists and engineers. This practice is tyrannical. It must be abandoned forthwith. A realistic alternative is a combined technology and science programme – perhaps called 'technoscience' education – that would treat science and technology as equals. Such courses may, as well, be more democratic in the sense that technological problem solving often is more natural to everyday situations that everyone may find useful, not just future scientists or engineers. A framework for combined technology and science courses is described and defended here. Originally developed through collaborative action research amongst practising teachers of science, the approach appears to be feasible, under certain – perhaps ideal – conditions. A number of changes to science and technology education may be necessary for broader implementation, not the least of which is a general retrenchment in expectations for pre-determined learning, along with adjustments to teacher education. Nevertheless, the approach is recommended because of its emphasis on: personalization, inclusion, problematization, explicitness, apprenticeship, authenticity, contextualization and freedom.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.