My dissertation is a conceptual-philosophical essay, which invites the
reader to imagine how science education might appear, if defrosted from
a disenchanting spell of the mechanistic worldview.
The modern "Machine" has collapsed the entire world into a
static, sterile, meaningless, soulless place, a disenchanted kingdom of
plain passive matter. This disenchanted worldview has led to a prosaic
materialistic mentality that has pushed modern civilization far from ecological,
political, social, educational, and spiritual equilibriums (Griffin, 1989;
Wilber, 1998). 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 (Prigogine & Stengers, 1984; Barrow, 1999).
Departing from rigid certainties of modernity and entering the eclectic
and vague bricollage of postmodern visions, we cannot predict with certainty
what 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, destroyed
world where humanity committed ecological or military suicide? There danger
of this scenario is all too real. Or, will we invent a better world that
evolves not only along technological and virtual dimensions but also along
inner spiritual dimensions, in which creativity, novelty, compassion,
and the sense of intimate interconnectedness of everything that exists
have the status of universal qualities? New developments in science open
a space for such possibilities.
Avant-garde science unfolds into the 21st century as a powerful and fascinating
force. It provides us not only with technological marvels, but also with
a conceptual framework for re-inventing our reality, ourselves, and our
education. New science re-enchants the world (Griffin, 1988; Bohm, 1988;
Prigogine, 1996). In my dissertation I identify re-enchanting dimensions
within new scientific visions emerging from contemporary chemistry, quantum
mechanics, astrophysics, ecology, human consciousness research, and biology.
I conceptualize holonomic inquiry as my integral science/arts--based research
methodology for exploring these dimensions through our own experiences.
Conducting this inquiry and attending to the voices of scientists, philosophers,
educators, and poets, I imagine school science education that spirals
deeper and deeper into the re-enchantment of the world, circler by circlet
by circlet, nonlinearly. The deeper is re-enchantment, the more radically
it will change the rationale, structure, content, and metaphoric language
of science education.
To land my flight of imagination in pedagogical practice, I designed
and taught for three separate years, a science course for elementary prospective
teachers. The reoccurring leitmotif throughout my entire dissertation,
"Days of the Physical Science in Elementary Schools Course,"
is the "soap-opera" style narrative describing my three pedagogical
landings, which were not always smooth. The conclusion of my thesis is
open-ended and as such, inconclusive. How could it be otherwise in the
re-enchanted, creative, ever-evolving, and ever-becoming world?