'HIGHER REALITY', HIGHER LEARNING? CHALLENGING TRAINEE SCIENCE TEACHER'S CONCEPTIONS OF THE NATURE OF THE WORLD AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE
University of East London (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The focus of this small scale qualitative study is to explore an alternative way of gaining knowledge about the 'world' and the impact this has on pre-service secondary science trainees in England.
Studies exist on the relationship between science and religion for example Pinit Ratanakul and Joshua Thurow. However, the relationship between science and religion is an under researched topic within Teacher Education.
This study will examine the interplay between Buddhism and science with a particular emphasis on the Abhidhamma. Abhidhamma translates as 'higher reality' or 'higher teaching' from the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. It is the author’s opinion that this part of the scriptures has not been accessible to the English-speaking community until recently. English translations of this part of the original text and English commentaries are now only just being made available to the public. Science trainees will not have been exposed to this before.
This exploratory survey was in the context of the diverse urban background setting of East London. A 1.5-hour session was held at the university comprising 11 pre-service secondary science trainees. The session explored the idea that science has a concept of reality as its object of understanding and that Buddhism has a reality as its object of understanding. The underlying pedagogy behind the session was to use concepts in the right way to understand reality. A questionnaire at the end of the session showed that 100% of trainees found the session useful. 40% of trainees agreed to the possibility that the understanding science has of reality is zero.
The study will contribute to the debate about the role and relevance of religion to 21st century science. It will help clarify the relationship between Buddhism and science as well as challenging traditional notions of reality. It introduces students to new meanings of the word 'spiritually' and overcomes some common misconceptions about Buddhism.
Keywords: Scientism, science and religion, buddhism, abhidhamma, mindfulness, meditation.