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After describing the problematic pattern of student enrolment in science and technology, the chapter suggests a series of underlying reasons for the difficulties that have arisen.The description is necessarily tentative and exploratory, and it is intended to present ideas for a discussion of possible explanations.Meaningful and independent participation in modern democracies assumes an ability to judge the evidence and arguments associated with the many socio-scientific issues that appear on the political agenda.This is followed by a similar analysis of who needs science and technology education, and for what purposes.The point here is that the problem of student recruitment may be perceived differently from different perspectives and by different interests.Our societies are dominated and even 'driven' by ideas and products from science and technology (S&T) and it is very likely that the influence of science and technology on our lives will continue to increase in the years to come.Scientific and technological knowledge, skills and artefacts 'invade' all realms of life in modern society: the workplace and the public sphere are increasingly dependent on new as well as upon more established technologies.
This chapter describes and analyses some of the challenges facing science and technology (S&T) education by relating these to their wider social setting.Although the focus is on aspects emerging from a European (or OECD) context, some of the issues raised are likely to have a wider validity.Hence, there may also be different views on suitable strategies to overcome it.The chapter also offers a critical description of school science and technology education, together with a brief account of some recent international trends.
These trends may provide ideas for possible ways forward.No period in history has been more penetrated by and more dependent on the natural sciences than the twentieth century. This is the paradox with which the historian of the century must grapple.