Read: 1985 to New Millenium

We’re going to jump ahead just a little bit in our story to 1985. Two decades after the introduction of talent identification and intentional encouragement toward science, studies indicated a trend of declining interest among students. The greatest decline was noted in junior high, often the point at which the subject became formalized, strategy shifted toward self-directed problem-solving, and work became evaluated for a grade (James and Smith).


In 1995, with the Cold War behind us, we see a growing concern to understand and address declining interest among students. Reformers have a desire for science to be more authentic and human. Peter Fensham advised that curricula should be “more honest about its strengths and weaknesses as a human and social endeavour.” (Fensham) Arthur Stinner specifically advocated for curricula organized “around contextual settings and science stories.” He said that content-centered textbooks are focused on informing rather than allowing students to interact and engage with phenomena themselves. Content, reflection, and problem-solving must be drawn into life, he said, through stories based on imagination, history, student experience, contemporary issues, and literature (Stinner). Masakata Ogawa further argued that students should have the space and time to consider phenomena through the lens of not only their classroom or laboratory experience, but also their personal belief system and cultural tradition (Ogawa).


In the new century, science educators began building a structure for the use of narratives in curricula (Norris, et al). They also worked to develop materials that would promote inquiry in the classroom. One challenge noted was that inquiry activities need some basic content knowledge and context in order to be effective (Trumbell, et al). It is interesting to note that Stinner acknowledged this central pedagogical problem previously and suggested that the inclusion of story could provide a solution (Stinner). While both context and inquiry were included in the discussion of the new millennium, there does not appear to be an effort to explicitly connect or coordinate the two and no awareness that Mason had already done this.