What is this thing called ‘science’ and what should be included in education about science?

Science has been a central topic in school curricula around the world. Despite decades of reform on curriculum and pedagogy, science continues to be a problematic subject for many students even at advanced levels. In this the talk, I will argue that a significant shortcoming in school science is limited exposure to how science works, resulting in lack of understanding of what science is about. In order to unpack this argument, I will focus on an area of research called “nature of science” that investigates some fundamental questions about how science works including how scientific knowledge is produced and what community practices scientists engage in. NOS is a subject that has infiltrated curriculum policy documents, such as the recent Next Generation Science Standards in the United States and curriculum strands such as “How Science Works” and “Ideas and Evidence” in the previous versions of the English National Curriculum. The difficulty in addressing NOS in science education is conflated by the factor that the precise definition of NOS is a contested territory itself. In the last few years, the debate around what counts as NOS has been escalating. I will outline some of the recent debates on NOS and argue that the contemporary accounts are limited in their depictions of science. I will illustrate a new framework on NOS that promotes a broad and holistic account of science such that students are equipped with a broad range of understandings and skills about the epistemic, cognitive and social-institutional dimensions of science. I will discuss theoretical and empirical work on NOS particularly with implications for how science education can infuse more coherent and holistic accounts of science.