Education International, Vol. 3, Issue 1, AN-3, Received in April
TRENDS IN CHEMISTRY CURRICULA:
A UNESCO - IUPAC (CTC)
and 10 August, 2000, Budapest
(UNESCO Contract No: SC 204.609.0)
E-mail: [email protected]
the occasion of the 16th International Conference on Chemical Education
held at the Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, 5 - 10 August, 2000,
a workshop was convened to address the following questions:
What are the new trends in chemistry teaching - at school and university?
B. How can teachers of chemistry in different countries be informed
of the new trends?
C. How can teachers of chemistry in different countries be enabled
to adopt and adapt new trends, if they are appropriate?
motivation for discussing these questions was the shared interest
of UNESCO and IUPAC (CTC) in identifying, communicating and facilitating
the uptake of new ideas in chemistry teaching. It is clear that
events such as the International Conferences on Chemical Education
are valuable for the participants. But these are just a tiny fraction
of the teachers of chemistry, and others responsible for educational
decisions, in the world. How can they derive value from these events
too? How can UNESCO and IUPAC (CTC) meet their global commitments?
workshop in Budapest involved 22 individuals (plus Dr A Pokrovsky,
UNESCO and Prof J D Bradley, IUPAC - CTC) of whom 9 were school
chemistry teachers from the region (Hungary, Romania), and 13 were
university - level chemistry teachers from a wide variety of other
countries. (A list is attached). The questions posed above were
discussed in groups and the group responses presented in plenary
session. In addition to these oral discussions, written responses
were submitted by 5 participants and one invitee who was unable
outcomes have been summarised by the convenor, Prof J D Bradley,
Chairman, IUPAC - CTC, reviewed by Prof J J Lagowski, Secretary,
IUPAC - CTC and now distributed to participants.
What are the New Trends in Chemistry Teaching - at School and University?
Student - Centredness
is a broad trend that influences curriculum content and methodology.
This is a trend to focus on learners: - their characteristics,
needs, interests, learning styles, etc - and to engage them in
active construction of their knowledge. In short, it reflects
constructivist thinking. This is not the traditional style, where
the teacher and the subject (chemistry) dominates. The new trend
is expressed in a variety of ways, for example active learning,
participatory learning, hands - on experimentation, relevance,
applications, social issues.
Chemistry and Other Sciences
is a trend reflecting awareness that solving many current and
future problems requires a multi - disciplinary approach. Furthermore,
chemistry, "the central science", is increasingly permeating
other sciences as chemical knowledge and skill become increasingly
Finally, the impact of science (including chemistry) on society
and the global environment, is increasingly marked. Chemistry
may be an identifiable discipline but it can no longer be adequately
understood if treated in isolation or narrowly - interpreted.
There are therefore moves in several countries towards what is
expressed as integrated science, globalisation of approach, a
systemic approach, etc. It is feared by some that curricula reflecting
this trend will cover less chemistry, but this is debatable.
is widespread recognition that the increasing impact of science
on society and the global environment calls for improved scientific
literacy in the general public and social leaders. The basic ideas
behind the concept of sustainable development, should be universally
recognised. Chemistry curricula are needed therefore to serve
future citizens as well as future experts.
is a general harmony amongst the three trends noted above. There
is a move away from the narrow, authoritarian, specialised style
towards the global, democratic, multi - disciplinary style. Inevitably
there are implications for methodologies of teaching and learning.
There is a strong trend towards active individual and group work,
as opposed to passive reception in lecture - mode. Information
technology is increasingly used in a global search for information,
as an aid to visualisation of abstract concepts, as a problem
- solving tool.
A counter - balancing movement emphasises the essential role of
practical experimentation which grounds concept learning and scientific
literacy in real experiences. Skills learned in experimentation
have life - long value to the future citizen as well the future
expert. Small scale experiments are seen as advantageous for achieving
How can Teachers of Chemistry in Different Countries be Informed
of the New Trends?
and locally, conference delegates bear a responsibility for disseminating
information in their own country. They may undertake this dissemination
through articles in journals and newsletters, perhaps making use
of those emanating from a national chemical society or chemistry
teacher association. In addition local meetings provide an opportunity
not only to describe but to engage in activities which exemplify
the new trends. All these dissemination mechanisms have the advantage
that the 'messenger' uses the local language and is sensitive
to the local culture and practices (especially as they affect
above mechanism has such potential value that it should be formally
emphasised at future ICCEs, whilst strong participation of teachers
from the region should be insisted upon. Regional conferences
can add significant inpetus to this process.
Global dissemination of information, especially electronic (internet,
CD) also has great potential value. It is comparatively inexpensive
where the infrastructure exists. Language and culture are not
catered for however, and local translation and adaptation are
whatever media, other than individual personal transmission, of
informing chemistry teachers are considered (printed or electronic)
the same local/national characteristics must be accommodated at
some stage. This does not meant the global electronic dissemination
in English has no value: it means its value is limited to a greater
or lesser degree.
centres may be conceptualised as a useful interface in this regard,
especially in developing countries. These centres are envisaged
as locations with the capacity and technology to take the global
dissemination into the furtherest reaches of the country by the
most appropriate means.
How can Teachers of Chemistry in Different Countries be Enabled
to Adopt and Adapt New Trends, if They are Appropriate?
is widespread acknowledgement that transforming awareness into
practical action is difficult to achieve. New trends need to be
carefully considered for their potential applicability to the
national situation. Overwhelmingly it is nationals of the country
concerned who must consider, trial and decide. Again, language
and culture will be unavoidable realities to accommodate. Little
will be effective until information, exemplary material, etc.
is available in a national language and, preferably in a style
and format that is typical or acknowledges national expectations.
is also necessary to take a systemic approach in adopting new
trends: implementation of a new idea without regard to possible
other curricular implications is generally disruptive and ineffective.
the least developed countries, there may not be sufficient capacity
to consider, adapt and trial new ideas. International consultants
may have important roles in such countries. However, meaningful
involvement of local educators is essential if they are to take
ownership of a new trend.
is acknowledged that neither UNESCO nor IUPAC have large financial
resources. Furthermore neither organisation seeks to direct or dictate
national education programmes. However both organisations desire
to assist all countries to improve and develop the quality and quantity
of education available. In this regard chemistry education is an
important component and UNESCO - IUPAC cooperation can be of benefit
to all. This report of the workshop at the end of 16 ICCE, by reviewing
and identifying trends in chemistry teaching and their means of
dissemination, should inform such cooperation.
conclusion therefore we recommend that:
the outcomes reported here be used as a basis for joint strategic
planning of UNESCO - IUPAC cooperation in chemistry education;
2. an end-of-Conference workshop to review trends and their dissemination
be a regular feature of future ICCEs.
NEW TRENDS IN CHEMISTRY CURRICULA
8 and 10 August, 2000, Budapest
Prof S P Songca, Univ. of Transkei (S. Africa)
2. Prof A F Fahmy, Ain Shams Univ. Cairo (Egypt)
3. Prof W Zhu, Beijing Normal University (China)
4. Mme M Rannikmae, Univ. of Tartu (Estonia)
5. Prof J J Lagowski, Univ. of Texas, Austin (USA)
6. Prof M M Ito, Soka Univ., Tokyo (Japan)
7. Prof C H Do, Sunchon National Univ. (Korea)
8. Prof N Tarasova, Mendeleev Univ., Moscow (Russia)
9. Prof M E M Pestana, Univ. of Lisbon (Portugal)
10. Prof Y Orlik, Javeriana Univ., Bogota (Colombia)
11. Mme M Ahtee, Univ. of Jyvaeskylae (Finland)
12. Dr O Serafimov, Assoc. Centre to INCS of UNESCO (Germany)
13. Dr J B Holbrook, ICASE (Cyprus)
14. Mme T Buzogany (Romania)
15. Mme L Kolumban (Romania)
16. Mme G Voroshazine - Kele (Hungary)
17. Mme R Peter (Romania)
18. Mme I Tokes (Romania)
19. Mme I Ferenczi (Romania)
20. Mr B Tunde (Romania)
21. Mme E Demeter (Romania)
22. Mme K Koszo (Hungary)
23. Dr A Pokrovsky (UNESCO)
24. Prof J D Bradley (IUPAC - CTC)
S. O. Wandiga (Kenya)
Prof. Y. Takeuchi (Japan)