Philosophical Inquiry and Critical Thinking in Primary and Secondary Science Education

In Michael R. Matthews (ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Springer. pp. 1531-1564 (2014)
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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.



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Tim Sprod
University of Tasmania (PhD)

References found in this work

Philosophical writings of Peirce.Charles S. Peirce - 1940 - New York,: Dover Publications. Edited by Justus Buchler.
Thought and Language.Lev Vygotsky - 1964 - Philosophy of Science 31 (2):190-191.
Thinking in Education.Matthew Lipman - 1992 - British Journal of Educational Studies 40 (2):187-189.
The unnatural nature of science.Lewis Wolpert - 1992 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Philosophy in the Classroom.Matthew Lipman, Ann Margaret Sharp & Frederick S. Oscanyan - 1977 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 51 (2):213-214.

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