ABSTRACT

Research in science education has recognized the importance of history and philosophy of science (HPS) for teaching science. A review of this research shows that most students and teachers do not have adequate epistemological views of the nature of science (NOS). This raises many issues, such as: (a) Why is it important to understand how science works? (b) Is it not sufficient for students to learn the content of science? (c) Do students have to learn how and why a scientist performed an experiment? (d) Does it help students to know that the same experimental data was interpreted differently by another scientist? (e) Do we present a false image of science in our textbooks and classrooms? (f) Is the false image of science conducive towards a better understanding of science? (g) Does the science curriculum motivate students to engage creatively and form part of a responsible citizenry? These issues impinge on the NOS and this book provides plausible answers. Hodson (2009) has emphasized the need for a science curriculum that deals with such NOS issues:

We should ask why a false or confused NOS knowledge constitutes a major problem for science education. In short, why does it matter what image of science is presented and assimilated? It matters insofar as it influences career choice, and so may have long-term consequences for individuals. It matters if the curriculum image of science is such that it dissuades creative, non-conformist, and politically conscious individuals from choosing to pursue science at an advanced level . . . Failing to provide every student with an adequate understanding of the nature of science runs counter to the demand for an educative citizenry capable of responsible and active participation in a democratic society. (pp. 142-143)

Nobel laureate Kenneth G. Wilson1 has similarly emphasized that history of science, “helps students considering science as a career to think, ask questions, and explore the concepts and ramifications of broad topics, enabling them to grasp what science is about and how it is conducted” (Gooday, Lynch, Wilson, & Barsky, 2008, p. 323).