The Nature of Science in Science Education

Volume 5 of the series Science & Technology Education Library pp 53-70

The Principal Elements of the Nature of Science: Dispelling the Myths

  • William F. McComasAffiliated withUniversity of Southern California

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The message from the Science and Engineering Indicators Study (National Science Board, 1996) discussed in the first chapter, and from an evaluation of the myths of science presented here is simple. We must rethink the goals for science instruction. Both students and those who teach science must focus on the nature of science itself rather than just its facts and principles. School science must give students an opportunity to experience science and its processes, free of the legends, misconceptions and idealizations inherent in the myths about the nature of the scientific enterprise. There must be increased opportunity for both beginning and experienced teachers to learn about and apply the real rules of the game of science accompanied by careful review of textbooks to remove the “creeping fox terriers” that have helped provide an inaccurate view of science and its nature. Only by clearing away the mist of half-truths and revealing science in its full light, with knowledge of both its strengths and limitations, will all learners appreciate the true pageant of science and be able to judge fairly its processes and products.