Science Education for Philosophy

Coming to the question of how science education might contribute to philosophy, one needs to look at an important area in educational research, viz. situated cognition. Researchers in this paradigm challenge the traditional western view that cognition can be examined independent of culture. Most studies in this tradition have been carried out in the area of mathematics education and problem solving competencies. Magalhaes and Schleiman [#!magalhaes!#] studied proportional reasoning among cooks in Brazil. Sixty cooks between between 16 and 40 years with almost no schooling were tested on proportionality problems in a sales transaction context, cooking context and the context of a pharmaceutical mixture of ingredients. Subjects were split into three groups. The first group was given problem in the order, recipe, price, recipe and then medicine problem. Second was given problems in the order price, recipe, medicine, recipe and the third was given the problems in the order medicine, price, medicine, recipe. It was found that there was a striking increase in correct response in both medicine and recipe problem when they followed the price problem. The increase however was not so high for medicine problems when they were presented before the recipe problems but after the price problems. It is clear from this example that familiar context, cooking in this case, aids transfer of learnt procedures to an unfamiliar context. This work also exemplifies that concepts are, in fact, deeply rooted in actual situations and practice. This is likely to be the case not only in mathematics but also, and more so in the case of science. Most work in the area of situated cognition is however, so far in mathematics and there seems to be an urgent need to extend this to the domain of science. The standard practice of designing novel activities and situations to communicate various concepts in science or mathematics needs to be supplemented with a thorough exploitation of possibilities that pre-exist in specific cultural contexts. Situated cognition seems to hold promise not only for science education but also for the development of a philosophy of praxis and action.