Secondary schools aim to develop young people to be “confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners” (New Zealand Curriculum, 2007). This future-focused vision for young learners guides the everyday work of teachers in classrooms, workshops, and laboratories around New Zealand. Science teachers, specifically, are charged with helping “students explore how both the natural physical world and science itself work so that they can participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role” (Science essence statement in the New Zealand Curriculum, p. 17).
Both the NZC vision statement and the science essence statement signal important ideas about what it means to prepare young people for the world beyond school. They refer to young people as lifelong learners, who explore the natural physical world and science itself, in order to participate in society. These statements suggest a change to the work of science teachers, away from the content-dominant focus we have been used to throughout much of the 20th century and towards something that specifically foregrounds purposes of learning science such as preparation for citizenship.
This article in the New Zealand Science Teacher argues that the purposes for learning science now connect with those of career education. It proposes that science teachers use the disciplinary lens of their subject to play a more active role in helping young people develop the career management competencies needed to manage the inevitable changes and multiple decisions required throughout their working and learning lives.