UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"You were a star once, weren’t you?" : nonlinear steps into the re-enchantment of science education Laroche, Lyubov


This thesis opens rather than closes the black box, evokes rather than answers questions, and invites rather than leads. It invites the reader to imagine how science education could be, if defrosted from a disenchanting spell of the mechanistic worldview. The modern "Machine" has collapsed the entire world into static, sterile, and meaningless kingdom of plain passive matter, bringing the human race into a state far from ecological, political, social, educational, and spiritual equilibriums. According to the science of complexity, a state-far-from-equilibrium is the edge of chaos, the dynamic space of possibilities, from which a new world might be born. Departing from rigid certainties of modernity and entering the eclectic and vague bricollage of postmodern visions, we do not know yet which possibility might actualize and what kind of world might leap into existence. Will it be a technological paradise, the world of sophisticated scientific and technical rationality? Perhaps. Will it be a ruined, dead world where humanity committed ecological or military suicide? There exists a real omnipotent danger of this scenario. Or... will we eventually invent a better world that evolves not only along technological and virtual dimensions but also along our inner spiritual dimensions? Will it be a re-enchanted world where meaning, purpose, values, beauty, freedom, wisdom, divinity, compassion, awe, mystery, creativity, and the ultimate unity of everything—all qualities "stolen" by modernity—are restored? New developments in science open a space for such possibilities. State-of-the-art science provides us not only with technological miracles, but also with a conceptual framework for re-enchantment of our worldview and of education, respectively. In this manuscript I synthesize and articulate insights emerging from leading edge developments in science in a language accessible to individuals without science background. While attending to the voices of contemporary scientists, philosophers, and educators, such as Illia Prigogine, Isabelle Stengers, David Bohm, David Griffin, Gregory Bateson, Rupert Sheldrake, Alfred North Whitehead, Frijof Capra, Bill Doll, David Orr, Jack Miller, c and Ken Wilber, I identify re-enchanting dimensions within new scientific visions, conceptualize holonomic inquiry for exploring these dimensions, and discuss possibilities for re-imagining school science curriculum by moving it deeper and deeper into the re-enchanted world, step by step, nonlinearly. The deeper is the re-enchantment, the more radically it will change the rationale, purpose, structure, content, skills, and metaphoric language of science education. I brought my visions of re-enchanted science curriculum to pedagogical practice, when teaching an elementary science education course. The reoccurring leitmotif throughout the entire manuscript, a soap opera " Days of Physical Science in an Elementary Schools Course," is the narrative describing and analyzing my attempts. The conclusion of my thesis is open-ended and as such, inconclusive. How could it be otherwise in the reenchanted, creative, ever-evolving, and ever-becoming world?

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