Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Conflicting Interpretations of Scientific Pedagogy

Abstract

Not surprisingly historical studies have suggested that there is a distance between concepts of teaching methods, their interpretations and their actual use in the classroom. This issue, however, is not always pitched to the personal level in historical studies, which may provide an alternative insight on how teachers conceptualise and engage with concepts of teaching methods. This article provides a case study on this level of conceptualisation by telling the story of Rómulo de Carvalho, an educator from mid-twentieth century Portugal, who for over 40 years engaged with the heuristic and Socratic methods. The overall argument is that concepts of teaching methods are open to different interpretations and are conceptualised within the melting pot of external social pressures and personal teaching preferences. The practice and thoughts of Carvalho about teaching methods are scrutinised to unveil his conflicting stances: Carvalho was a man able to question the tenets of heurism, but who publicly praised the heurism-like “discovery learning” method years later. The first part of the article contextualises the arrival of heurism in Portugal and how Carvalho attacked its philosophical tenets. In the second part, it dwells on his conflicting positions in relation to pupil-centred approaches. The article concludes with an appreciation of the embedded conflicting nature of the appropriation of concepts of teaching methods, and of Carvalho’s contribution to the development of the philosophy of practical work in school science.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Letter from Fernando Pinho de Almeida to Carvalho on the 7th of February 1963. Unpublished document, kept at Portuguese National Library, Archive 40, box 4, folder “Correspondência de Professores”.

  2. 2.

    Interview for “Jornal da Educação”, year III, N° 24, June 1979.

  3. 3.

    The Decrees were published by the government in the Government Bulletin “Diário do Governo” (Official Daily Bulletin of the Portuguese Government). These naturally were oriented by government’s political agenda, but also echoed educators’ views, as these appeared in educational journals. A full account on the key educational Decrees issued before and during Salazarism can be found in Galamba (2013a, Chapter 2). There it is argued that the salazarist regime transformed the role of the Liceu and science education in that institution.

  4. 4.

    Unpublished document, kept at Historical Archive of Ministry of Education fundo IEL “Relatório dos professores”, box 55. Francisco Manuel Meira da Costa Historical Archive 2554.

  5. 5.

    Carlos Cerdeira Guerra’s Official Report. Unpublished document, kept at Historical Archive of Ministry of Education, fundo IEL, box 9, 1950.

  6. 6.

    For the sake of readability, this is not a literal translation. Unpublished document, kept at Historical Archive of Ministry of Education, fundo IEL “Relatório dos professores”, box 49, Historical Archive 2322, academic year 1934–1935. Rómulo de Carvalho, Aggregate teacher of the Liceu de Camões.

  7. 7.

    Carvalho preferred to call it Archimedes’ ‘theorem’ instead of Archimedes’ principle. This states that bodies in any fluid are subject to an upward force, proportional to the volume submersed.

  8. 8.

    Rudolph refers to these kind of curricula as the “epitome of functional schooling, in which academic subject matter was marginalized in favor of courses designed to meet the immediate social, personal, and vocational needs of the student” (Rudolph 2002, p. 4).

  9. 9.

    Then called the ‘Preparatory Cycle’ for secondary education.

  10. 10.

    Letter from Fernando Bragança Gil to Carvalho in October 1969. Unpublished document, kept at Portuguese National Library. Carvalho’s documents, Archive 40, box 3 folder “Ciências da Natureza”.

References

  1. Aido, A. D., & Bastos, M. G. (2001). Rómulo de Carvalho enquanto metodólogo. In L. Corte-Real & M. Lourenço (Eds.), Pedra Filosofal: Rómulo de Carvalho/António Gedeão (pp. 33–34). Lisboa: Museu de Ciência da universidade de Lisboa.

  2. Aloni, N. (2007). Enhancing humanity: The philosophical foundations of humanistic education. Dordretcht: Springer.

  3. António Augusto Riley da Motta. (1937). Labor (78), 338–339.

  4. Armstrong, H. E. (1889). Suggestion for a course of elementary instruction in physical science. In W. H. Brock (Ed.), H. E. Armstrong and the teaching of science (1880–1930) (pp. 90–98). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  5. Armstrong, H. E. (1898). The Heuristic method of teaching or the art of making children discover things for themselves. A chapter in the History of English Schools. In W. H. Brock (Ed.) (1973), H. E. Armstrong and the teaching of Science (pp. 110–120). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  6. Armstrong, H. E. (1903). The teaching of scientific method and other papers in education. London: Macmillan and Co.

  7. Atkin, J. M., & Black, P. (2003). Inside science education reform: A history of curricular and policy. Buckingham: Open University Press.

  8. Beato, C. (2005). Para a história da disciplina de ciências Físico-Químicas: os programas da reforma liceal de 1947. Revista de Educação, XIII(2), 5–28.

  9. Brock, W. H. (1973). H. E. Armstrong and the teaching of science 1880–1930. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  10. Cantos, P. J. D. (1928). Trabalhos práticos de física da 6a classe realizados no liceu de Póvoa do Varzim em 1927–1928. Labor (15), 301.

  11. Carvalho, R. D. (1947). Acerca dos trabalhos práticos de Física nos Liceus. Gazeta de Física, I(2), 39–41.

  12. Carvalho, R. D. (1959). A Física como Objecto de Ensino. Palestra, 4, 57–64.

  13. Carvalho, R. D. (1963). O ensino elementar da Cinemática por meio de gráficos. Gazeta da Física, Lisboa, IV(4), 97–110.

  14. Carvalho, R. D. (1968a). Ciências da Natureza (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Sá da Costa.

  15. Carvalho, R. D. (1968b). Física para o Povo (Vol. 1 e 2). Coimbra: Atlântida.

  16. Carvalho, R. D. (1970a). O estudo experimental do Teorema de Arquimedes. Palestra (37–39), 179–185.

  17. Carvalho, R. D. (1970b). Sobre o estado actual do ensino da Física. Palestra (37–38–39), 141–155.

  18. Carvalho, R. D. (1986). História do Ensino em Portugal—Desde a Fundação da Nacionalidade até o fim do Regime de Salazar-Caetano. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

  19. Carvalho, R. D. (2010). Memórias. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

  20. Chevallard, Y. (1985). La transposition didactique—Du savoir savant au savoir enseigné. Grenoble: La Pensée sauvage.

  21. Costa, J. S. D. (1996, 20/11). Um Humanista na Ciência. Jornal das Letras/Educação, 35.

  22. Couto, J. (2006). Apresentação. In M. Rêgo & F. Lopes (Eds.), “António é o meu nome”, Rómulo de Carvalho (pp. 9–11). Lisboa: Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal.

  23. Crato, N. (Ed.). (2006). Rómulo de Carvalho—Ser Professor. Lisboa: Gradiva.

  24. DeBoer, G. (1991). A history of ideas in science education. New York: Teachers College.

  25. Decree 3091 Ministério da Instrução Pública, Diário do Governo de 17 de Abril, I Série, N° 60 (1917).

  26. Decree 16362 Ministério da Instrução Pública, Diário do Governo de 14 de Janeiro, I Série, N° 11 (1929).

  27. Decree 27084, Ministério da Educação Nacional, Diário do Governo de 14 de Outubro, I Série, N° 241 (1936).

  28. Decree 36507, Ministério da Eduncação Nacional, Diário do Governo de 17 de Setembro, I Série, No 216 (1947).

  29. diSessa, A. A. (2008). Can students re-invent fundamental scientific principles?: Evaluating the promise of new-media literacies. In T. Willoughby & E. Wood (Eds.), Children’s learening in a digital world (pp. 218–248). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

  30. Driver, R. (1983). The pupil as scientist?. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

  31. Fernandes, M. T. (2001). Rómulo de Carvalho enquanto Metodólogo. In L. Corte-Real & M. Lourenço (Eds.), Pedra Filosofal: Rómulo de Carvalho/António Gedeão (pp. 36–37). Lisboa: Museu de Ciência da Universidade de Lisboa.

  32. Figueiredo, A. S. M. (1927). Programas de Física e Química: elaborados segundo o plano de remodelação do Ensino Secundário do ex-ministro da instrução, sr. dr. Santos Silva. Labor (7, 8, 9), 172–179.

  33. Fiolhais, C. (1997). Os meus livros preferidos de Rômulo de Carvalho. Gazeta da Física, Lisboa, 20(1), 15–17.

  34. Galamba, A. (2013a). The contribution of Rómulo de Carvalho to Portuguese science education (19341974): A humanistic project? Unpublished doctoral thesis. University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

  35. Galamba, A. (2013b). Rómulo de Carvalho’s Work on the popularization of science during salazarism. Science & Education, 22(10), 2659–2677.

  36. Galamba, A. (2013c). Rómulo de Carvalho’s humanistic chemistry syllabus in the 1948 Portuguese Liceal reform. Science & Education, 22(6), 1519–1536.

  37. Gedeão, A. (1992). António Gedeão: 51 + 3 Poems and other writings. Lisboa: History and Science Unit, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

  38. Gilot, F. (1961). Da Metodologia Científica e sua Respectiva Didáctica. Palestra (12), 19–31.

  39. Hodson, D. (1996). Laboratory work as scientific method: three decades of confusion and distortion. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 28(2), 115–135.

  40. Jenkins, E. W. (1979). From Armstrong to Nuffield. London: John Murray.

  41. Layton, D. (1973). Science for the people. London: George Allen & Unwin.

  42. Matthews, M. R. (1994). Science teaching: The role of history and philosophy of science. London: Routledge.

  43. Millar, R., & Driver, R. (1987). Beyond process. Studies in Science Education, 14, 33–36.

  44. Mónica, M. F. (1978). Educação e Sociedade no Portugal de Salazar. Lisboa: Editorial Presença/Gabinete de Investigações Sociais.

  45. Mortimer, E., & Scott, P. (2003). Meaning making in secondary science classrooms. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

  46. Motta, A. A. R. D. (1934). Do ensino das Ciencias Físico-Naturais. Labor (56), 527–530.

  47. Naves, F. (1996, November 24). Um Poeta da Ciência. Diário de Notícias, pp. 24–25.

  48. Nóvoa, A., Barroso, J., & Ó, J. M. N. R. D. (2003). O Todo Poderoso Império do Meio. In A. Nóvoa & A. T. Santa-Clara (Eds.), Liceus de Portugal: Histórias, Arquivos, Memórias (pp. 17–73). Porto: ASA Editores.

  49. Nuffield Physics. (1967). Teachers guide I. London: Longman/Penguin.

  50. Nunes, A. B. D. S. (1968). Novos Métodos para o Ensino da Física e da Química—o Projecto Nuffield. Labor, 32, 355–373.

  51. Ó, JMNRD. (2002). O Governo de si mesmo. Unpublished Tese de doutoramento, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa.

  52. Perkin, W. H., & Lean, B. (1913). An introduction to chemistry and physics (Vol. I). London: Macmillan and Co.

  53. Ramos, A. C. D. S. (1948). Acerca do estudo educativo da Física. Gazeta de Física, I(8), 226–228.

  54. Rhee, R. (2007). Socratic method and the mathematical heuristic of George Polya. St. John’s Law Review, 81(1), 881–898. Also http://scholarship.law.stjohns.edu/lawreview/vol81/iss4/5/. December 06, 2015.

  55. Rosa, M. C. S. (1967). Como organizar os Trabalhos Práticos de Física e de Química exigidos pelo actual Programa, para que os alunos tirem dele maior proveito. Palestra (29), 123–139.

  56. Rudolph, J. (2002). Scientists in the classroom: The Cold War reconstruction of American science education. New York: Palgrave.

  57. Salema, I. (1996, November 24). Humanidades e ciências é tudo a mesma coisa. Público, pp. 2–4.

  58. Smith, A., & Hall, E. (1902). The teaching of chemistry and physics in the secondary school. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Also https://archive.org/details/teachingchemist00hallgoog. December 06, 2015.

  59. Stevens, P. (1978). On the Nuffield philosophy of science. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 12, 99–111.

  60. Teixeira, J. A. (1951). Algumas Notas. Labor (112), 115–120.

  61. Tomás, T. L., Carvalho, R. D., & Almeida, F. P. D. (1965). La Formation du Professeur de Physique. Palestra (22), 78–92.

Download references

Acknowledgments

I would like to express my gratitude to Jim Donnelly, who kindly supported me in the development of this study with his ever-clear understanding of educational issues. Likewise, I must thank very much indeed the anonymous reviewer who scrutinised in detail the structure and argument of this article. Their involvement, criticism and suggestions were invaluable and truly appreciated.

Author information

Correspondence to Arthur Galamba.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

None

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Galamba, A. Conflicting Interpretations of Scientific Pedagogy. Sci & Educ 25, 363–381 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-016-9822-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Science Education
  • Science Teacher
  • Teaching Method
  • Heuristic Method
  • Inductive Method