Science as an ideal: Teachers' orientations to science and science education reform

Klaus Witz, Hyunju Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Two policy trends have characterized US science education in the last two decades: a strong movement to examine issues of science in society, and widespread adoption of state standards mandating curriculum courses related to science, technology and society, scientific literacy, and socio-scientific issues. However, these changes have not found an entirely positive response among teachers. This paper suggests that the value orientations which motivate many teachers in their work should be taken into account in curriculum policy-making. This paper identifies two types of value orientations that lead secondary-school science teachers to oppose or favour dealing with socio-scientific issues in the classroom: a 'traditional' view of science as objective and value-free; and a 'higher vision of science' with strong metaphysical, moral, or aesthetic connotations. In addition, a significant number of science teachers examine science and society issues from the perspective of, e.g. often environmental or social, not science-related values. All three of these phenomena play a significant role in the controversies connected with science-education reform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-431
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Curriculum Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Personal values
  • Science curriculum
  • Science teachers
  • Science, technology and society (STS)
  • Social issues


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