Jekyll and hidebound;Opinion
Last week saw the publication of Beyond 2000: Science education for the future, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. It reports the views of leading science educators on the scientific needs of all young citizens - rather than those who will train as professional scientists (a minority whose requirements nevertheless dominate current syllabuses).
This report, too, concludes that school science should cover less but uncover more: the big ideas of science rather than knowledge assembled fact by fact; the strengths and limitations of scientific enquiry; and the contribution ofscience to our culture.
In an age of microelectronics, genetic engineering, Aids and concern for the environment, we daily become more dependent on - and affected by - the products, methods and discoveries of science. School science often seems to ignore this public dimension; yet it is of intense interest to pupils.
With the review of the national curriculum now promised, Beyond 2000 prompts us to go further than another nip-and-tuck exercise to examine the purpose of compulsory schoolscience. It may prove to be the most important document on science education we have seen in a decade.