2020 Day 4: 28th May Presentation

Exploring the Use of Stories and Narratives of Scientific Discoveries to Teach NOS to Middle School

Punam Medh
Tata Institute of Social Sciences 

There is also an age-old practice of conveying information through narratives, both in formal and informal science education (Glaser et al, 2009). A narrative approach allows for the true excitement of curiosity to shine through, fueling children’s own curiosity and interest in the process (Engel et al, 2018). Research also posits that integrating stories about scientists and their discoveries into science content instruction can also be effectively used as highly contextual nature of science instruction, and has long been advocated in science education. (Abd-El-Khalick, 1999; Allchin, 2013; Clough, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2011; Matthews, 1994; Klassen, McMillan, Clough, & Olson, 2007). The need for Nature of Science (NOS) education in order to enable deeper engagement of science also sits in with the curricular recommendations of NCF 2005 which states that:

We can regard good science education as one that is true to the child, true to life and true to science. The historical validity requires that science curriculum be informed by a historical perspective, enabling the learner to appreciate how the concepts of science evolve with time. It also helps the learner to view science as a social enterprise and to understand how social factors influence the development of science” (NCERT, 2005).

Given the importance of stories and their contribution to NOS, it would be interesting to find out whether and to what extent does the practice of using stories translates into the classroom, i.e. how often do teachers actually tell stories during class. If they do indeed use stories, what kind of stories do they tell? Whether these stories are planned or spontaneous? What do teachers do about the small blurbs ‘Great Scientists’ that appear in textbooks? The answers to this line of inquiry are foregrounded by an attempt to understand the teacher’s own perception of NOS and its importance in the curriculum.

Twelve science teachers, mainly from government and low-cost private schools in urban and semi-urban locations, share their practices and perspectives on stories, story-telling and on Nature of Science.