21st Century Science Education: A Critical-Creative Social Constructivist Perspective

  • Michael L Bentley Department of Biology, Hollins University, Roanoke University, Virginia USA
  • Stephen C. Fleury Le Moyne College
Keywords: Epistemology, Constructivism, Curriculum, Social Justice, Educational Reform, Science Education


The dominant narrative of curriculum and educational reforms prevailing in many countries is identified, described, and critiqued and an analysis advanced from the philosophical anthropology of education. A constructivist theoretical perspective is both critical and creative in offering (a) insight into the implicit and explicit dangers of the privileged form of knowledge in education, and (b) alternatives that reduce threats of ecocide and promote socially just and sustainable democracies. Examined in the context of official curriculum, the commodification of knowledge via testing and standards, and students’ epistemological development are the social and political consequences of the (1) reification, (2) de-contextualization, and (3) technocratization of school knowledge. A significant mismatch is found between current education and the state of the world, beset with environmental degradation, rapid technological change, and global economy. The educative task now is how to educate students for democratic citizenship in a new social-ecological era, requiring student-centered school cultures that apply the principle of epistemological symmetry in terms of respecting local knowledges and revealing science as a human endeavor.

Author Biographies

Michael L Bentley, Department of Biology, Hollins University, Roanoke University, Virginia USA
Research areas: Curriculum and instruction in science and environmental education, teacher education and professional development, informal (museum) education, the social studies of science as applied to education.
Stephen C. Fleury, Le Moyne College
Professor and Chair, Education Department with scholarly interests and research in sociology and politics of knowledge, especially the nature of science and its impact on social knowledge.