Making Science Education Relevant by wppalmer []
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Making science education relevant

by Douglas P Newton

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Making Science Education Relevant    (2011-03-10)

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by wppalmer

Making Science Education Relevant by Douglas P. Newton published by Kogan Page, London, (1988).

Reviewed by W. P. Palmer

The title 'Making Science Education Relevant' encapsulates the aim of the book and the first question in the preface is 'What is relevant science education?' I am not sure that by the end of this short book he answers this question for me. Newton perceives that the way of making science more relevant is to humanise and most of the book is about ways in which this could be done at different levels (primary schools and secondary schools). He is probably right for most people most of the time. My problem is that relevance is per¬sonal and it applies only to the individual in some specific context. To distort an old proverb. `One man's relevance is another man's rubbish!' The curriculum that I used to teach in the 1968 in Nigeria may in one sense have been irrelevant, being highly theoretical, often using examples of physical or biological phenomena that were inappropriate for the country. The students, however, did not appear to see the syllabus as irrelevant: for them passing the examinations was the way to the `good' life.

The book does have a number of useful features; it is unusual in that it speaks to both primary and secondary teachers: it is well referenced and in general the references are appropriate and up to date: there are a lot of useful examples and ideas for teachers. On the negative side its examples come largely from the UK, so for Australian teachers there may be a certain irony in the title.
Originally published in STANT Magazine, October/ November, 1994, p.11.

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