Envisioning Science Teacher Preparation for Twenty-First-Century Classrooms for Diversity: Some Tensions

  • Norman ThomsonEmail author
  • Deborah J. Tippins
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 8)


In his 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens begins his dialogue with the now oft cited quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Ironically, today’s nations (“cities”) share in Dickens’ dilemma. Never before have Earth’s peoples been able to so easily share their diverse experiences, accomplishments, knowledge, and aspirations for the future. But, in part, this journey to get to the best of times may well be taking us to the “worst of times.” Through a pathway of exponential population growth and/or consumption, the unconscionable overuse of Earth’s limited resources – extinctions and environmentally dangerous by-products have become a part of our everyday global experience. We have entered a new geological era so distinct that it is aptly being called the Anthropocene. In order to better understand what our future might bring, paleoanthropologists are investigating what happened to our hominin ancestors in the context of past climatic events. Three phenomena provide a rich context to begin classroom conversations focused on the intersection of climate change, geological history, and hominin evolution. Scientists and science educators share a responsibility in guiding future science teachers’ understandings of this conceptual triad. More explicitly science teacher educators need to know how we can best meet the “unknown” needs of the twenty-first-century students. Given Dickens’ metaphoric tensions for the “best and worst of times,” we decided to explore what some of our pre-service secondary science teachers knew about climate change and hominin evolution as they designed, implemented, and reflected upon lessons for high-school students. In our chapter, we provide some perspectives on what they knew and expand our findings to include a starting point of our vision for what science teachers need to know in preparation for teaching in their twenty-first-century classrooms.


Climate Change Science Educator Science Teacher Secondary Science Teacher Deep Time 
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.



The authors wish to acknowledge the University of Georgia STEM Education Program, Improving Instruction and Enhancing Success in STEM disciplines, fir their support of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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