EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: CONTRIBUTIONS TO A SCIENCE CURRICULUM FOR PRIMARY EDUCATION
, I.P. Martins
Centro de Investigação Didáctica e Tecnologia na Formação de Formadores (CIDTFF) Universidade de Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
The Declaration of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development gives an important role to Education in helping solve the situation of planetary emergency that Humanity faces. In Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Scientific Literacy (SL) was established as one of the contributions to stimulate the understanding of issues and current problems in order that responsible decisions, as justified in the present, may not undermine the future. Therefore Education in Science should also be directed towards the promotion of SL since the first school years. It is not easy to say what being scientific literate means. It is also difficult to say how the formal teaching and learning of Science in the first school years can help develop skills that allow action to be justified without compromising the future in a democratic society marked by the prevalence of developments in Science and Technology occurring at a dizzying pace, with implications for personal life, society and even the planet.
Notwithstanding its diversity the proposed design of curricula aiming the promotion of SL includes the intention to develop and disseminate practical teaching and learning in Science that can innovate and be appropriate to the contemporary demands. They share some questions that can be systematized as follows: i) learn what? ii) how? iii) what challenges to the Teachers and the School?
Within this issue we state a view of SL that we set out in a curriculum design framed by the principles of ESD and the guidelines Science / Technology / Society (STS). The curriculum contains theoretical reference elements organized into four distinct levels: Dimensions, Components, Parameters and Indicators. They are organized from broader and more general (Dimension) to narrower and more specific levels (Indicator). In each Dimension there are different Components that allow its characterization. Each Component is clarified through its development into several Parameters and the latter are specified through the definition of several Indicators.
We selected three Dimensions: ESD, SL, and STS. The selection of the Dimensions was the result of : i) the recognition of the importance of directing the teaching and learning process towards an ESD perspective since the early school years; the importance attached to SL in achieving that purpose; iii) the conviction that STS orientation programs can help the appearance of a more adequate vision of science and scientific activity, as well as an involvement based in the discussion of scientific and technologic problems with a critical spirit, sense of responsibility and solidarity.
We have chosen to establish a hierarchy for the Dimensions, ESD being the most relevant (as it is what we especially aim), followed by SL (for it performs a means to achieve our target) and finally STS. We defined three Components for Dimension ESD: environmental, social and economic issues; for Dimension SL we also set three Components: practical, civic and cultural Dimension; and for STS we set two Components: Contexts for the emergence of contents and Implications of the interrelationship Science / Technology in Society and implications of Society in the interrelationship Science Technology. For each Component there are many Parameters and the Indicators defined for each Parameter make themselves as objective as possible. All he distinct levels (Dimensions, Components, Parameters and Indicators) will be presented in tables and justified.