Defining the Core of a Science

Clifford Grobstein
1966 The American history teacher  
This paper was presented at an AAAS Meeting in Berkeley, December, 1965, and describes efforts to arrive at a definition of the core curriculum. The author is Chairman of the Department of Biology and a distinguished researcher long interested in problems of teaching. He was a member of the Commission on Undergraduate Education in the Biological Sciences. It is certainly unnecessary to point out to this audience that extensive curricular revision in mathematics and the sciences has been in
more » ... es has been in progress in the secondary schools. It is clear that revision now is radiating out into the non-sciences in secondary schools, and has begun to infect the teaching of the sciences in colleges and universities. What is perhaps not so widely appreciated is that, as a by-product, curriculum revision is promoting conscious re-weighing of the fundamentals of the several sciences and of the relations among them. As each discipline grapples with the tasks of curriculum planning, it is forced to ask what facts and concepts are truly central and foundational and how these relate to the facts and concepts of neighboring disciplines. Questions even arise as to the reality of the traditional boundaries between the disciplines, and the degree to which the several disciplines might profitably be taught and understood as sectors of science, rather than as biology, geology, chemistry, or physics. Especially in this time when facts are accumulating and concepts probably are changing faster than at any time in scientific history, the problem posed is how we keep current in our identifcation of the foundations of a science for curricular presentation. It will be my thesis in this talk that the burden of responsibility for this falls on the departments of our research-oriented universities, but that mechanisms beyond the individual university are required to link the identification step with
doi:10.2307/4441549 fatcat:cojzp3mwp5ed7c73bdblfsl3d4