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CAP. 2: A Lot of Heat and Not Much Light

  • The most essential element in learning to galk science is mastery of the thematic patterns of each science topic.
  • In order for teachers to make sense to students, they must make conections between scientific thematics and the ways students already talk about a topic.

Playing By Another Set of Rules: Teacher-Student arguments

  • Exemplo de discordância entre professor e aluno sobre o conceito de energia.


  • The way in which science is mainly taught today leaves these patterns implic most of the time, so that the differences between the patterns rarely get talked about directly.

The Semantics of the Debate

  • Words do not necessarily "have" meanings in themselves. A word in isolation has only a "meaning pootential", a range of possible uses to mean various things. What it actually means as part of a sentence or paragraph depends on which thematic item in some particular thematic pattern it is being used to express.
  • Apresenta o diagrama temático da explicação do professor e da explicação do aluno;
  • Readers of this dialogue can usually make sense of either the teacher's viewpoint or students', but not often of both. It is hard to formulate the exact differences between their views. But when you use thematic analysis, you can see the details of the misunderstanding from line to line. The most useful way to picture these differences is to compare the thematic pattern diagrams for the two sides in the debate.

Using Thematic Pattern Diagrams

  • Most semantic relationships connect two terms, so if we draw a line between them in our diagram, we can label the line with abbreviations, borrowed from Halliday's terminology, for the kind of grammatical relationship that usually expresses their semantic relationship;
  • The thematic items of a diagram are represented, of course, by words. But actually they are not words, they are the meanings that are expressed through the words. What I have loosely called "terms" so far are more like abstract "concepts", in that each can be expressed by many different words.
    • The terms of a thematic pattern diagram should be called thematic items, or thematic terms, to distinguish them rom words as such;


Power, Prestige, and Authority in Science

  • Students are encouraged to mistrust common sense and to accept the superiority of scientific thematics. This too is part of a larger social patterns: the acceptance of "expert views" on policy by people who do not understand the basis of those views;
  • By its silence on questions of social values, science education also helps foster the misconception of science as value-free or value-neutral on which technocrats rely;

Science and Social Values

jun 8 2015 ∞
jun 8 2015 +