Resistance to Divergent, Child-Centered Scientific Inquiry in the Elementary School and at the University: An Autoethnography of a Science Educator

  • Brian StoneEmail author
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 17)


With national initiatives for standardization and accountability, science education has been substantially impacted. In some areas, science instruction has been reduced or even eliminated due to the prioritization of math and language arts. In other areas, the science curriculum has been narrowed and paced in such a rigid way that alternative methods for instruction, scientific discourse, and criticality in science thinking have been precluded or marginalized. In spite of well-intentioned STEM programs, a high value has been placed on science content memorization, and a considerable resistance to divergent, child-centered practices in science instruction has been encountered at the P-12 level, as well as teacher education courses at the university level. This chapter explores the experiences of a former elementary teacher and current university professor in his journey to promote social justice, criticality, and child-centered practices in science education in both the elementary and university settings. Multiple barriers to divergent scientific inquiry are discussed through the elementary and university perspectives, and include: national initiatives, standards, narrow curricula, school culture, accreditation directives and the traditional, positivistic mindsets of many teachers, administrators, and parents. Additionally, pathways for creating spaces for discourse, making connections, and challenging the status quo in science education are discussed. Resistance from teachers and professors is explored through the author’s research in authentic scientific inquiry in the elementary school.


Child-centered science Autoethnography Critical science education Progressive methodology Elementary science Higher education Teacher preparation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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