Monday, May 15, 2006

Science is relative

I once asked a friend of mine who built large industrial chimneys in Melbourne what his main task was. He told me it was to make sure they didn't fall over. I guess this depends on engineering theory and mathematical computations. But does it depend too on social attitudes?

The West Australian Science Curriculum states:

'People from different backgrounds and cultures have different ways of experiencing and interpreting their environment, so there is a diversity of world views associated with science and scientific knowledge which should be welcomed, valued and respected. They [students] recognise that aspects of scientific knowledge are constructed from a particular gender or cultural perspective.'

Thanks to Kevin Donnelly in The Australian for this gem. Donnelly also points out that the South Australian Curriculum states that 'Every culture has its own ways of thinking and its own world views to inform its science' while the Northern Territory Science Curriculum speaks of a 'social-constructivist perspective' where 'science as a way of knowing is constructed in a socio-cultural context'.

Problems in the WA English Curriculum with its 'outcomes-based' ethos have been discussed before on this blog. Donnelly's comments above, and the recent disclosure that many General Practitioners don't know basic anatomy, suggests the sciences are not being exempted from this same scholastic propensity towards gobbledegook.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

For once Donnelly is on the money. But expect the Larva Prats to defend this one anyway.

Jason

Robert Merkel said...

Anonymous, some might, but the majority have seen "contextual science" coming from the right and aren't at all impressed.