We believe that science education is all about helping
students to develop their capacities of observation and
thinking as tools for understanding and participating in
the world. It is not primarily about conveying a body of
much science today is theory-driven, students often end
up taking theories for the phenomena themselves. In the
worst case, science becomes a theoretical edifice that one
adheres to and everything is subsumed within its categories.
It becomes a kind of world unto itself.
Lewis Wolpert embraces the idea that science is a practice
that drives toward abstraction: "the
ideas that science generates and the way in which science
is carried out are entirely counter-intuitive and against
. If something fits in with common sense
it is almost certainly not science." On this
view, the more rigorous and true to its mission science
becomes, the further away it takes us from immediate lived
experience. Paradoxically, science then arrives at explanations
of the world that are utterly disconnected from the world
The Nature Institute we work to develop a science that is
infused with a spirit that Francis Bacon, as a founding
father of modern science, expresses when he writes, "man
is but the servant and interpreter of nature: what he knows
and what he does is only what he has observed of nature's
order in fact or in thought; beyond this he knows nothing
and can do nothing."
Science education needs to begin with immersion in the
phenomenal world and out of this immersion questions arise
that guide further inquiry. Science education should be
discovery-based and open ended. It's not about memorizing
facts or theories. In this approach, nature is the expert,
the teacher is the guide and students are the apprentices
helped by the guide to learn from the expert. The knowledge
that arises is not knowledge disconnected from human experience;
rather, it enhances our ability to understand the world
we live in.
To learn about
our education programs, click here.
"An Environmental Science Curriculum for Middle School" by Craig Holdrege, 2011. Prepared for the Detroit Waldorf School.
"The Forming Tree" by
Craig Holdrege. In Context #14, Fall, 2005
"Learning to See Life: Developing the Goethean Approach to Science", Craig Holdrege. Renewal, Fall 2005.
This article gives a brief introduction to the Goethean approach in relation to science education.
"Doing Goethean Science", Craig Holdrege. Janus Head, Vol. 8.1, 2005
Dynamic Heart and Circulation. Edited by Craig Holdrege
(Fair Oaks, CA: AWSNA Publications, 151 pp.).
more information about this book, click here.
Art of Thinking," Craig Holdrege. Renewal Part
I, Fall 2001; Part II, Spring 2002.
and Metamorphic Thinking," Craig Holdrege. In Colloquium
on Life Science and Environmental Studies, AWSNA Research
Projects # 5, 2002.
Contemporary Issues in the High School: The Example of
Human Cloning," Craig Holdrege. Renewal
as Process or Dogma? The Case of the Peppered Moth,"
Craig Holdrege. Elemente der Naturwissenschaft, Vol. 70,
1999. A shorter version of this article appeared in Whole
Farm in the Landscape: A Place-Based Ecology Course,"
the Science out of Children," Steve Talbott.
Chapter 13 of The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending
the Machines in Our Midst.
The Work of Martin Wagenschein
The German physicist and educator Martin Wagenschein made an original and incisive contribution to science education. We are translating some of his writings. Click here to learn about Wagenschein and to find links to our translations.
Being on Earth
You will find on our website the full text of Being on Earth, published
in 2006 by two physicists (Georg Maier and Stephen Edelglass) and a
philosopher (Ronald Brady). This extremely valuable work explores the
epistemological, aesthetic, social, moral, and educational aspects of a
qualitative science -- that is, a science properly grounded in the
irreducibly participative relation between human being and world.
For a critical look at the role of computers in
education, see our Information, Computers and Education
page. For a more extensive set of commentaries, you can
check out the "Education and Computers" entry in the
of our online NetFuture newsletter. There you
will find a list of commentaries and articles
by senior researcher, Stephen L. Talbott.
- Back to top