A sociohistorical examination of George Herbert Mead’s approach to science education

Michelle L. Edwards

Although George Herbert Mead is widely known for his social psychological work, his views on science education also represent a significant, yet sometimes overlooked contribution. In a speech delivered in March 1906 entitled “The Teaching of Science in College,” Mead calls for cultural courses on the sciences, such as sociology of science or history of science courses, to increase the relevancy of natural and physical science courses for high school and university students. These views reflect Mead’s perspective on a number of traditional dualisms, including objectivity versus subjectivity and the social sciences versus natural and physical sciences. Taking a sociohistorical outlook, I identify the context behind Mead’s approach to science education, which includes three major influences: (1) German intellectual thought and the Methodenstreit debate, (2) pragmatism and Darwin’s theory of evolution, and (3) social reform efforts in Chicago and the General Science Movement.


Natural Wonders and Scientific Performance: A Mexican Eclipse and Its Uses

Susana Biro

The observation of the total eclipse of the sun of 1923 by Mexican astronomers was a scientific expedition like many of the time. It was also the conjunction of a wonderful natural spectacle and the performance of scientific observation staged by Mexican astronomers before three audiences: other scientists, government officials, and members of society. This case study shows how demonstrations are an integral part of the practice of science and can be useful for obtaining visibility and support.