Towards a More Epistemologically Valid Image of School Science: Revealing the Textuality of School Science Textbooks

  • Kostas Dimopoulos
  • Christina Karamanidou


The current study aims to present textual resources, which could contribute towards a more epistemologically valid image of school science, and, by this way, to provide a more theoretically informed basis for the development of instruments for analyzing this image in school science textbooks. Thomas Kuhn in his renowned work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions argues that “textbook science” reflects almost always the dominant “paradigm” of the corresponding knowledge fields. In other words, school science (as in school textbooks) is presented as a static, finalized, and absolute consensual body of knowledge. However, a more realistic image of science, revealed by numerous studies inspired by philosophy and sociology of science (SSK), corresponds to a form of knowledge “in the making” which by definition is dynamic, often an object of negotiation and/or controversy not only within the scientific community but also between the scientific community and representatives of other social institutions (policy makers, peoples’ organizations, etc.). This image comes much closer to what citizens nowadays encounter in the public manifestations of scientific activity. The “textbook science” is rhetorically constructed through various textual techniques (e.g., nominalizations, prevalence of passive verbs, experiential iconism, low-modality expressions) in an attempt to present itself as a self-referenced monologue, withholding its textuality, i.e., the very fact that it is itself a construction. (The word “text” originates from the Latin word textum (verb texo) meaning “textile” (same origin) or construction consisting of interweaving pieces of wood. Thus, the word “text” carries connotations referring to an artifact constructed through combining various constitutive elements.) This rhetorical strategy naturalizes school science, making the processes for its construction completely invisible to students. Thus, every effort aiming towards a more epistemologically valid image of school science should contribute to the revelation of such a rhetoric strategy via the use of textual resources which make school science textbooks more polyphonic or at least less self-referenced. Such a kind of material by revealing its textuality could permit the student-reader to adopt a more reflexive approach towards science.


Scientific Knowledge School Science Educational Material Textual Type Textual Representation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ashmore, M., Myers, G., & Potter, J. (1995). Discourse, rhetoric, reflexivity: Seven days in the library. In S. Jasanoff, G. E. Markle, J. C. Petersen, & T. Pinch (Eds.), Handbook of science and technology studies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Barthes, R. (1986). From work to text. In R. Barthes (Ed.), The rustle of language. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  3. Bloor, D. (1976). Knowledge and social imagery. London: Routledge/Keagan Paul.Google Scholar
  4. Bucchi, M. (1998). Science and the Media: Alternative routes in scientific communication. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Collins, H., & Pinch, T. (1998). The Golem: What you should know about science? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cooper, G. (1997). Textual technologies: New literary forms and reflexivity. In J. H. Collier & D. M. Toomey (Eds.), Scientific and technical communication: Theory, practice and policy. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Dimopoulos, K. (2001). The image of science and technology in the Greek daily press. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Patras (in Greek).Google Scholar
  8. Eco, U. (1979). The role of the reader. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Enkvist, N. E. (1981). Experiential iconism in text strategy. Text, 1, 77–111.Google Scholar
  10. Genette, G. (2001). Before text. In G. Kouzelis (Ed.), Reading and writing: For the use of language in sciences. Athens: Association for the Study of Humanities.Google Scholar
  11. Giannakoppulos, P. (1991). Syntax of modern Greek. Athens: Papadimas (in Greek).Google Scholar
  12. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwatzman, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Giddens, A. (2001). The consequences of neotericism. Athens: Kritiki.Google Scholar
  14. Gombrich, E. H. (1960). Art and illusion. London: Phaidon Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gross, A. G. (1996). The rhetoric of science. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Knain, E. (2001). Ideologies in school science textbooks. International Journal of Science Education, 23, 319–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Knorr-Cetina, K. (1999). Epistemic cultures: How the sciences make knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Koulaidis, V., Dimopoulos, L., Sklaveniti, S., & Christidou, V. (2002). The texts of techno-science in the public sphere. Athens: Metechmio.Google Scholar
  19. Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Latour, B. (1987). Science in action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1979). Laboratory life: The social construction of scientific facts. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Law, J. (1992). Human and nonhumans in the computer department. Paper presented at the Discourse Analysis and Reflexivity Workshop, Brunel University.Google Scholar
  23. Lawson, H. (1985). Reflexivity: The postmodern predicament. Melbourne: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  24. Lehtonen, M. (2000). The cultural analysis of texts. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Lekka, V. (2005). The language of scientific texts. Athens: Ellinika Grammata.Google Scholar
  26. Masterman, M. (1970). The nature of a paradigm. In I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Matthews, M. R. (1994). Science teaching: The role of history and philosophy of science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. McComas, W. F. (1998). The nature of science in science education: Rationales and strategies. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  29. Mulkay, M. (1991a). Sociology of science: A sociological pilgrimage. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mulkay, M. (1991b). Intruders in the fallopian tube-or a dream of perfect human reproduction. Human Reproduction, 6, 1480–1486.Google Scholar
  31. Pantidos, P. (2008). The formulation of a ‘dictionary’ of terms of semiotic analysis for the teaching of physics: A context of study of teaching practices based on semiotics used in theatre. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Patras.Google Scholar
  32. Pickering, A. (1984). Constructing quarks: A sociological history of particle physics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Rodgers, M. (1992). The Hawking phenomenon. Public Understanding of Science, 1(3), 231–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Serres, M. (2001). The silence of language. In G. Kouzelis (Ed.), Reading and writing: For the use of language in sciences. Athens: Association for the Study of Humanities.Google Scholar
  35. Shamos, M. H. (1987). Great experiments in physics: Firsthand accounts from Galileo to Einstein. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  36. Sklaveniti, S. (2003). A context of analysis for the textbooks of natural sciences. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Patras.Google Scholar
  37. Tsatsaroni, A., & Koulaidis, V. (2001). Scientific knowledge and school naturo-scientific knowledge: Simplification or recontextualization. In J. Bliss et al. (Eds.), Teaching of the natural sciences. Patras: Greek Open University.Google Scholar
  38. Watson, J. D. (1966). The double helix: A personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA. New York: Atheneum.Google Scholar
  39. Woolgar, S. (1988a). Science: The very idea. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  40. Woolgar, S. (1988b). Reflexivity is the enthographer of the text. In S. Woolgar (Ed.), Knowledge and reflexivity: New frontiers in the sociology of knowledge. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Yoon, H. G. (2004). Science education using science drama. Proceedings of the 46th conference of the Korean Association for Research in Science Education, Seoul.Google Scholar
  42. Ziman, J. (2000). Real science: What it is, and what it means. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PeloponneseKorinthosGreece

Personalised recommendations