Scientific Temper

In an increasingly fast-changing world that needs to be met with flexibility and creativity, science plays a key role in co-creating a progressive and rational thinking society.

Our hope with honing scientific temperament from an early age is for values such as objectivity, critical thinking, understanding multiple viewpoints and freedom from prejudice and fear to be part of our everyday lives. When critical science education and scientific thinking permeates our ways of thinking and acting, then perhaps science could play a liberating role.

Asking questions:

An intrinsic part of our learning involves nurturing students’ natural curiosity and creativity. This includes asking questions, creating space for students and teachers to plan experiments together, discuss ideas and brainstorm, and critically record and analyze observations. Collective inquiry into observation of leaves, metamorphosis of butterflies and moths, measuring rainfall over time and empirically investigating climate change etc. are some examples of the kinds of learner-driven explorations this then leads to.

Situating scientific thinking:

According to National Curricular Framework 2005, good science education is regarded as ‘one that is true to the learner, true to life (physical, biological, social spheres in which the learner is embedded) and true to science’. (NCF Position paper on Science Education, 2005) Keeping this core belief alive, we try to encourage scientific thinking, be it in specific subjects like science or social science, or in activities like permaculture, soap-making, stitching, birdwatching, cleaning drives or even tinkering etc. We also try to cultivate the learning of science in multilingual ways instead of privileging the standardized and often complicated language of textbooks which is already our learners’ third or fourth language. Such a space for exploring one’s biological, physical and socio-political world then allows for students’ own experiences and rich understanding of the natural and social world to permeate through the classroom, and at the same time needs tackling erroneous or rigid views that perpetuate misconceptions or stereotypes. In the past few years, we have also consciously tried to situate science within our imminent needs. This includes, say, conversations around contraception and how it works on our bodies, genetic patterns of certain diseases commonly occurring in our bastis, pressures in the community on women’s bodies and moving beyond the binary of gender within the realm of science etc.

Science and Power:

A part of building scientific, rational and critical thinking is to explore how scientific knowledge is generated and validated, and how analysis is conducted using data, experiences and collective discussions. Exploring the history of science and its relation to power is also part of sensitively exploring the social nature of science and technology. We hope that as members of marginalized communities, science education can help us engage with issues that threaten our survival, connect our communities’ vernacular scientific thinking to the neoliberal framework of scientific progress and closely observe our relationships with and in nature.