Opinions and essays

Debates in science education
Mike Watts (ed)
2013 | 254pp | £25.99 (PB)
ISBN 9780415658294


This short volume is exactly as the title suggests – a series of prominent opinion pieces by those involved in education. The 15 essays cover a wide range of topics but for a classroom practitioner only a minority will be useful. They are divided into three sections: Policy, Classroom and Subject.

Each piece is followed with references and questions to promote further discussion, but it might have been interesting to break these down for different approaches, to explore how each idea relates to classroom teachers, senior managers and makers of policy in different ways.

Singling out any particular piece would say more about my perspective rather than the book itself. The policy essays clearly explain historical events and their relevance to the modern educational context, some with implicit warnings for those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past. I found the wide range of topics in the classroom debates fascinating. Some had immediately useful ideas to apply mid-lesson, while others would inform planning over a year or Key Stage. Essays in the subject section would perhaps be of most use to heads of department or during teacher training, taking a broader approach with less obvious application to daily teaching.

A school science department could easily turn this book into a year of professional development: each month simply have each member of staff choose an essay to read and present to colleagues. In this way the wider viewpoint can be translated to a local situation. To make the most of the references, academic access to original papers would be needed – more of an issue at a school level than in policy or research contexts. Several referenced authors were familiar to me and other books have been added to my wish list.

In all, a great overview with interesting viewpoints to read, share with colleagues and argue about.

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