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István Nahalka: Science Education and Theories of Science

The remarkably high quality of science education in Hungary cannot exempt us from the study of the question, what concept of science we develop in children at school. This concept is outdated in several respects and it does neither match current theories of science nor our understanding of the philosophy of science. Science education in Hungary is dominated by an inductive-empirical concept of science in contrast to modern theories characterised by a more complex view of the relationship between empirical insight and theory on the one hand and an emphasis on deductive processes on the other. The inductive-empirical approach to science shapes not only the developing concept of science in children but also the logic of learning at school, the applied educational strategies and the understanding of children's acquisition of knowledge. Experts and practicing teachers assume that the application of discovering techniques and methods is the ideal strategy in teaching sciences. The structure of classes is determined by the logic of inductive learning: science education is primarily based on the notion that scientific hypotheses are to be verified by empirical evidence. Thus the inductive-empirical approach dominates teaching practice but it is also influential in teacher training and in the literature on the theory of science education. In education, there is practically no trace of the theories of science born in the second half of the 20th c. (Popper, Lakatos, Kuhn, etc.). This claim was empirically justified in the study of 70 Hungarian science curricula of the past years. Current approaches to the theory of science were missing. The relationship of curricula and science is determined by the inductive-empirical approach. Studies related to teachers' and children's as well as course books' and curricula's approach to science have shown the same results in many countries of the world. It is important to change the situation but it is also particularly difficult. We need to reform teaching programs and introduce up-to-date approaches in in-service teacher training. There is also a strong demand for progress in educational research.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 95. Number 3-4. 229-250. (1995)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: István Nahalka, Department of Education, Loránd Eötvös University, H – 1146 Budapest, Ajtósi Dürer sor 19–21.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia