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Scientific literacy for all citizens: different concepts and contents

Scientific literacy for all citizens: different concepts and contents

Abstract

In this article, three different descriptions of curricula for scientific literacy (SL) are summarized, compared, and critically reviewed from the point of view of their suitability for all citizens. Science for All Americans , a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, envisages giving every citizen a thorough exposure to the world of science, technology, and mathematics; the report Towards Scientific Literacy , published by the International Institute for Adult Literacy Methods, recommends a phenomenological approach to science designed to make science useful for people in their daily lives; and a similar curriculum, Minimum Science for Everybody , published by a voluntary organization in India, provides a detailed alternative conceptual framework for SL in which community traditions and knowledge systems are interfaced with science. The three reports are seen to differ from one another not only in respect of the contents of the curricula recommended, but also in their approaches, and the world views underlying these different approaches are brought out. It is suggested that SL curricula in both “developed” and “developing” countries be reviewed in the light of the ideas contained in all three reports in accordance with the needs and circumstances of the people. The article argues for the need to review the nature of science from the perspective of the common citizen.
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