23 SES 14 B, Work Practice and Vocational Perspectives in Public Education
The inclusion of practical work in physics education is under threat to become extinct in many contemporary public school curriculums. It is too expensive, and the learning benefits can be seen as questionable and hard to assess (Abrahams, Reiss, & Sharpe 2014). For many, the entire practical side of physics has become quite unpractical. However, these differing positions in regard to practical work in science are not reducible to economic issues. Rather, the conflict seems to be connected to a long standing dispute between the role of theory and practice in science education and the general value of incorporating practical work into science education. In particular, the value of practice observations and theoretical ideas seems to be quite muddled and an obstacle for science educators. In response to this problem, this paper directs attention to the philosopher Benedict Spinoza, highlighting a different way to conceive of learning and knowledge that potentially could cast a new light on this old conflict between practice and theory in physics education, and between observations and theoretical ideas. Additionally, Gilles Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza points toward a necessary intrinsic notion of experimentation, which reframes the issues regarding practice and theory, and between lived observation and formal ideas. Finally, attention is given to John Dewey’s (1938) writing on scientific inquiry that frames the notion of practical work in physics education as an indispensable part of scientific inquiry. Ultimately, what I intend to demonstrate is the way that the materiality of practical work in science education is not only beneficial to the study of physics, but an absolutely essential aspect in helping students to learn about our physical world.
Abrahams, I., Reiss, M. J., & Sharpe, R. M. (2014). The assessment of practical work in school science. Studies in Science Education, 50(1), 143. Deleuze, G. (1988). Spinoza: practical philosophy (R. Hurley, Trans.). San Francisco: City Lights Books. Dewey, J. (1938). Logic: The theory of inquiry. New York: Henry Holt and Company
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