A. Špernjak, A. Šorgo

University of Maribor, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (SLOVENIA)
Assembling knowledge about structures and functions of human body, understood as a system of interconnected systems at different hierarchical levels, in coherent unity can be recognized as ultimate, but heavy task for educators. In a case of reproductive system it was shown that barriers in transferring knowledge from e.g. molecular levels to functional levels are close to impenetrable. Some other trajectories, such as a trajectory from human genetics to human brains are not well explored, so the aim of our work was to explore it in order to help educators to overcome pitfalls in education.

In the Slovenian, lower secondary school the human genetics and nerve system are part of biological syllabus, but at this school level making connection between human genetics and human brain is not explicitly expected. It was allready shown, that such connections are viable, and e.g. epigenetics (Morange, 2005), combine human genetics and human brain. Majority of people associates biology to strict genetic determinisms, even if only minority of scholars in the field of biology holds this view. This was one of the reasons, why the Biohead-Citizen project (Carvalho, Clément, and Bogner, 2004) decided to work on the double topic of "Human Genetic" and "Human Brain". They tried to evaluate how it is taught today in several countries. Slovenia was not part of the Biohead-Citizen project, so we tried to find out current state about these topics in Slovenia. The objective of the study is to analyze if Slovenian pre-service and in-service teachers and of other citizen’s conceptions are starting or not to change in relation to some "questions vives" as sexism, racism and the old overcome debate innate / acquired.

This paper is a methodological follow to the study by the European Commission supported project Biohead-Citizen. The aim of the project was to investigate if and how Biology, Health Education and Environmental Education can promote better citizenship, including their affective and social dimensions (Carvalho, Clément, and Bogner, 2004). Our part of study was conducted in 2016 as an on-line survey. We received responses from 163 pre-service; in-service teachers and from other citizens on their opinions about human genetics and human brain in Slovenian schools. In field of human genetics were included next contents: genetic determinism of human characters, genetic diseases, interactions between the genome and its environment (epigenesis), genetic engineering, genetically modified organisms. In field of human brain were included topics: epigenesis, thinking, intelligence, spirit; Brain diseases; brain at the command, or brain built by individual/social life. Differences between gender, age and participants’ status (student or employed person) were investigated.

We explored the differences of gender, age and the participants’ status. The findings showed statistically significant differences in understanding of human genetics and its connection with conceptions on the determinism of human features. In the presentation, we will present detailed findings from this study.

[1] Carvalho, G.S.; Clément, P., and Bogner, F. Biology, Health and Environmental Education for Better Citizenship. STREP CIT-CT-2004-506015, E.C., Brussels, FP6, Priority 7 [Internet]. 2004. Available at:
[2] Morange, M. (2005). Quelle place pour l'épigénétique?. Medecine Science, 21, 367-369.