Science Education Curriculum in Australia Essay

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Students in the 21st century have the opportunity to learn at a rapid pace, through the use of new media and new pedagogical methods. New media shifts the pedagogical focus away from fragmented knowledge towards a more integrative and multidisciplinary understanding of the natural world. 21st century learning engages students with material, encouraging them to think creatively and critically rather than simply learning by rote memorization. Science curricula in public schools should reflect the new tools and technologies of the 21st century.

The Australian science curricula remains committed to 21st century learning and the development of effective citizens. To develop effective citizens, science teachers need to cultivate in their students a sense of curiosity or scientific inquiry and an appreciation for the scientific method of answering questions. A scientific worldview encourages students to ask probing questions and shows them how to find the answers to those questions. Science is a field that is ripe with opportunity for developing core skills that are not limited to the information itself, because they include social skills, communication skills, and the practical skills in technological tools.

Effective Citizens and 21st Century Learning

Twenty first century learning refers to a set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed to be critically important to succeed in today's world (S. Abbott, 2015). It ranges from critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning to communicating and collaborating through information, media and technology skills. In today's society, we are becoming more aware of the constant ongoing technological advances, social and economic changes that are increasing the amount of knowledge being generated from the way we collaborate and learn. As twenty first century learners, we are becoming more flexible in retaining knowledge instead of learning facts.

Through a variety of research, teachers are just starting to be seen as more of a leader and motivator instead of just an educator, and students no longer need to retain details and figures as they now have a world of knowledge at their fingertips. Technology is a powerful tool that gives teachers, students, and others new ways to address problems like chronic shortages of time, materials, and professional development. Used in the context of intelligent decisions about other aspects of education, technology enables learning to be limited by only one thing -- imagination (Jan Hawkins, 1997).

To become an effective citizen, students need to develop "an interest in science as a means of expanding their curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions about and speculate on the changing world in which they live," one of the main aims of the Australian science curriculum (ACARA, n.d.), "Aims"). This central aim of the Australian science curriculum shows that effective citizens in the 21st century retain a deep sense of curiosity about the world to stimulate scientific inquiry and ongoing research. Whether or not the student becomes involved in the science professions, the quality of curiosity remains one of the core components of social vision and collective action.

Similarly, the aims of the Australian science curriculum include "an ability to communicate scientific understanding and findings to a range of audiences, to justify ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims," (ACARA, n.d., "Aims"). Science literacy requires first an awareness of how science reporting may be biased. Students need to understand how to discern credible scientific research and distinguish between peer reviewed studies and studies that are published in less reputable sources. Likewise, a main aim of the science curriculum is to improve the students' ability to translate laboratory reports and other hard evidence into language that is readily understood by the general public. The science curriculum therefore interfaces with other elements of the Australian school curricula. Communication skills, critical thinking, and creative thinking skills are all nurtured in the 21st century citizen.

Science, Knowledge and Understanding

As the Australian curriculum indicates, students should have "a solid foundation of knowledge of the biological, chemical, physical, earth and space sciences," (ACARA, n.d., "Aims"). This knowledge includes the ability to apply the scientific method towards developing hypotheses and predicting phenomena based on observable or measurable inputs. The National Curriculum Board (2009) also recommends students deepen their knowledge and understanding of mathematics, because of the relevance of mathematics to science and their interconnectedness. Mathematics can help students understand the statistics used in scientific analysis, and can also help students grasp concepts related to theoretical branches of science. Basic notations also depend…

Sources Used in Document:

References

ACARA (n.d.). Learning area: Aims. Retrieved online: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/science/aims

ACARA (n.d.). Learning area: Rationale. Retrieved online: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/science/rationale

Gaffney, J. (2005). The importance of science literacy in modern culture. Retrieved online: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~jdgaffne/scilit.pdf

Hartmann, A.C. (2013). Education: science literacy benefits all. Nature 498(171).

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