Teaching Science in Times of Crisis

How Can Science Education Help Young People Construct Different Futures?

In: Critical Issues and Bold Visions for Science Education

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In this chapter, we reflect on the role that science education can, or should play, in helping young people construct options for a future in a society in crisis. We analyzed the current situation of young people concerning education, employment, health and emotions – demographic data concerning young people in México and the USA, with only the occasional global broad stroke. We used the sociocultural perspectives of positionality, and spaces to situate our data within multiple social contexts. From these perspectives, we question the influence and consequences that neoliberalism has caused in the social development of young people. We note how development policies which focus primarily on global economic growth have led to greater inequalities and social injustices, increased levels of stress, despair, a diminishing sense of place, and fewer illusions for the future amongst young people. Not only must young people deal with a sense of place, but also the host of emotional issues we underscored earlier as well as an understanding that their futures are dependent on their competitiveness in a socially inequitable and unjust society connected to the global economy. Finally, we offer the reader of this chapter a series of reflections in which we recognize that education has become more of a service for the development of the global economy than the development of people. Consequently, education has lost its humanistic goal of developing a free and critical thinking society. We invite and challenge educators to strengthen forms of teaching, learning, and research focused on youth by creating forms of literacy that are useful in their lives – not only literacy to fulfill an enterprise like science. Young people need to be guided in developing a sociocultural critical awareness that illuminates the situation in which they are living and builds different and better options for their futures.