Philosophical Inquiry and Critical Thinking in Primary and Secondary Science Education

  • Tim Sprod


If Lipman’s claim that philosophy is the discipline whose central concern is thinking is true, then any attempt to improve students’ scientific critical thinking ought to have a philosophical edge. This chapter explores that position.

The first section addresses the extent to which critical thinking is general – applicable to all disciplines – or contextually bound, explores some competing accounts of what critical thinking actually is and considers the extent to which scientific thinking builds on, or is quite different from, generic thinking. Evidence that traditional science education does not teach scientific thinking well leads to the conclusion that some different pedagogical approach needs to be added to science curricula.

The second section surveys several approaches to ‘minds-on’ science education, each of which shares an emphasis on the students identifying areas of puzzlement, rigorous discussion of these puzzles, attention to metacognition and opportunities to address thinking across different contexts.

Finally, a summary of the main conclusions is followed by consideration of possible objections and suggestions as to further research that could help to clarify and fine-tune the teaching of good scientific thinking in primary and secondary schools.


Science Education Critical Thinking Thinking Skill Science Lesson Cognitive Conflict 
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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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhilosophyUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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