Science literacy should be useful in everyday ways, enhancing one's employment prospects and ability
to make personal decisions. It should help citizens participate intelligently in making social and
political decisions on matters involving science and technology. But there is more to it than that:
Knowledge of science should, like great literature, contribute to the ability and inclination of
people to ponder, on occasion, the enduring questions of human meaning: our origin, place in the
universe and significance.
In: The New Quest for Science Literacy, by James Rutherford and Graham Down, 1995.
In order to take an active and productive part in today's society, it is becoming increasingly important for everyone to be scientifically literate. Individuals and groups must be able to use scientific information and thinking processes to make choices, solve problems, engage in public discourse and debate about important issues of social concern, meet job demands, and share in the excitement and wonder that can come from understanding and learning about the natural world.
However, in adult basic education both learners and educators represent a very wide range of scientific literacy skills. Given the realities of the field and the multiple demands on teachers and learners, it is not realistic to expect that adult education classrooms will set achieving scientific literacy as a major goal. Yet we believe it is important to articulate the vision of what scientific literacy for all adults might look like because such a vision can have a profound impact on literacy curriculum design. The Science and Technology Curriculum Framework encourages teachers to include science inquiry in their literacy and numeracy curriculum for the benefit of all.
Vision of a Scientific Literate Populace
- Asks questions, and finds or determines answers to those questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences.
- Uses the inquiry process to solve everyday problems.
- Is able to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena.
- Reads with a understanding and healthy skepticism articles about science in the popular press.
- Has respect for the use of evidence and logical reasoning in making arguments.
- Recognizes the role of science and technology in political decision-making by identifying issues that require scientific reasoning.
- Expresses positions on social and political issues that are based on fact and sound reasoning.
- Responds critically and carefully to claims made in the name of science and technology by advertisers, public figures, organizations, and the entertainment and news media.
- Subjects his/her own claims to the same kind of critical scrutiny so as to become less bound by prejudice and rationaliztion.
Originally published in: Field Notes, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall 2002)|
Publisher: SABES/World Education, Boston, MA, Copyright 2002.
Posted on SABES Web site: October 2002
Top of Page