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Teachers, Curious Minds, and science education

Georgina Stewart and Cathy Buntting

The New Zealand Government’s National Science Challenges have recently generated renewed activity on how education, science and the public can better engage with each other, for the benefit of Aotearoa New Zealand society now and in the future. This work resulted in a key document: A Nation of Curious Minds—He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara (Curious Minds). First, this article examines what Curious Minds means for science education and in particular for primary teachers, concluding that more thinking is required about the aims of classroom science learning programmes. The article takes up this challenge, drawing on scholarship by Jonathon Osborne to argue for a distinction between the knowledge required by a scientist as opposed to the knowledge a primary classroom teacher needs to teach science well. Osborne delineates the difference between the dominant model of “science as inquiry” and a new concept of primary science which he terms “science as a practice”. These distinctions provide a basis for clarifying the role of teachers in the context of likely outputs from Curious Minds.

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