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

  • Kostas Dimopoulos
  • Christina Karamanidou
Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PeloponneseKorinthosGreece

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