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The aim of this analysis is focused on the relationship between socially con- troversial biological issues and the decisionmaking procedures in the construction of the national curricula published under the different regimes that have governed Spain over the last years. The study covers the secondary level of schooling age 10 up to university , and is based mainly on the data afforded by the official publications of the nine national curricula in twentieth-century Spain, and some of the main textbooks used for this schooling level. Special attention is given to the teaching of evolution, the most sensitive issue in biology education, and some parallelisms are traced and com- pared with similar phenomena occurring in other countries. The new trends in biology education from the last reform of the Spanish education system are briefly discussed. This study provides a perspective of the pressures affecting socially controversial issues in- cluded in education. These pressures have been identified mainly as political, social, and religious beliefs held by powerful and influential social groups, the same kinds of forces that have existed in other countries worldwide.
The methods used in these works involved determining the frequency and distribution of specific terms throughout the text 26 , 30 , 31 , 32 , Most recently, text analysis of high school biology textbooks has been performed as part of AAAS Project This study acknowledges the important role of textbooks in guiding students toward making proper connections and forming deeper understandings within the context of a greater scientific picture.
While its approach of deeply assessing one particular topic and all the connections between the underlying concepts is different from our own, the overarching premise resembles our belief that essential concepts must be positioned to serve as a fundamental organizing principle.
The question we ask in this work is not whether diverse topics in biology are explicitly explained with reference to genomics, but whether genomic concepts are introduced early enough in the undergraduate biology curriculum for students to use them for understanding other biological concepts. To do this, we analyzed the content of 25 widely used textbooks for introductory undergraduate biology.
The analysis was based on a lexicon of metaterms representing core biological concepts and the locations of where these concepts were first introduced in sufficient detail to serve as a foundation for subsequent learning in textbooks.
We found that general biology textbooks designed for both majors and nonmajors introduce concepts related to genomics after text introducing cell structure and function as well as biological chemistry, but before text introducing higher-order biological processes.
In contrast, genome-related metaterms in human biology textbooks were often positioned near the end of these books. Freeman, and Wiley. Several publishers offered multiple titles by the same authors with much overlapping content. To avoid statistical bias from over-representation of multiple books by one author, texts were eliminated within each category that had common authors and analogous content, even if they had different titles.
All books used were the most recent editions available when this study was initiated and had publication dates after A Nature Research Journal. THOUGH written by an American professor of biology for American students, this book, which takes a rather different point of view in elementary biology teaching, is worthy of bringing to the notice of teachers of biology in other countries. As a book of reference the teacher should find it very useful, though as a book for students it would be rather disconcerting, since the subject-matter is so different from that used for most classes, at any rate in Great Britain.
For example, the first type animal in the book is the grasshopper.
By Prof. Grace White. Second revised edition.
Henry Kimpton, To obtain permission to re-use content from this article visit RightsLink. All these social and political positions have been the real forces that have driven cur- ricular decisions in the teaching of biology throughout the twentieth century in Spain.
Their influence in shaping Spanish biology curricula has been much greater than that produced by the internal development of biology as a scientific discipline. This has been mainly due to the great quantity of biology content that has been seen as educationally controversial and pernicious by several generations of powerful social groups in twentieth- century Spain.
Unfortunately, Spain is not the only example of this kind of pernicious behavior. One can point to the Lysenko affair in the former Soviet Union Joravsky, ; Medvedev, ; Soyfer, , the creationism phenomenon in the U. The present study illustrates some of the effects of the social forces that have influenced the decisionmaking processes leading to the status of biology in the nine different Spanish National Curricula published under the various Spanish regimes of the last years.
Due to the broad time span covered in this work, detail has been sacrificed for the benefit of conciseness, and our main aim is not to describe extensively each different biology cur- riculum with its own features and problems, but to give a wider perspective so as to illuminate some the knowledge that can be derived from these kinds of historical antece- dents.
We agree with Kliebard that history does not repeat itself and we cannot use it as a reliable guide to avoiding mistakes.
Table 1 shows the main characteristics of each national curriculum, and some of the relevant details about the social and political environments see also Table 2. The structure of secondary education established by the Ministry for Public Instruction in , has been quite stable throughout this century. It was changed only twice, after the publication of new acts of education in and , extending, in both cases, the years of primary education see footnote to Table 1.
Nevertheless, to make comparisons feasible we have included the same range of years for each curriculum, from age 10 until university. Another fact shared by nearly all of these national curricula is the strong influence of the Spanish Catholic Church in their design. Again, there are a few exceptions — the curriculum planned by the Second Popular Republic, but never fully implemented, and the s curriculum that is currently being implemented i.
This curriculum, as well as the Act of Education from which it is the outcome, were elaborated in a unique way in the history of education in Spain: an extended period of 10 years was allowed for curriculum discus- sion and testing, and several running drafts were discussed among academics, educators, and teachers. This period also saw, for the first time in Spain, the building of a research community in science education.
The field of science education was recognized as both a teaching and research area in universities in , and several Spanish journals and doc- toral programs in research in science education were also launched in the s. Study Methodology of Spanish Curricula Educational issues are highly contextual, and we have tried to place our study about Spanish biological education as much as possible within the real coordinates under which TABLE 1 The Nine Spanish Curricula of the Twentieth Century Year Declared aims To respond to To provide aca- To enhance the Education is The human edu- The same as in The compulsory To provide an in- The extension of and objectives different needs demic prepara- public welfare considered the cation of the the former.
The homework con- homework and cluding the ad- maximum of the importance compulsory lab- rote learning in and general most distinctive tinues. The the obligation to vocacy of students of practical oratory work in favor of a pro- guidelines, this aspect of this timetables for keep sexual constructivism per classroom work to com- sciences.
It is gressive and curriculum in- reform is the boys and girls segregation is and its derived is revealing. The sis of the sub- tained. Strong ONU and the international the most no- program much launched.
Cen- international U. Concordat isolation. This comparison pression and gime. Strong ished. Repres- bondage was with former indoctrination influence of sion. Censor- sion and cen- responsible for times. Indoctri- cease. All dem- Catholic ship restored. Estab- management of education. Cat- cation justified artistic and mu- Act of Educa- from the new Ministry for lished a policy educational es- echism again as a pedagogi- sical education tion, the second General Act of Public Instruc- to allow only tablishments a compulsory cal guideline, and for reme- in the history of Education, the tion—always one textbook forbidden to re- subject.
Ger- being main- dial activities. Spain Moy- only one pub- influenced by per subject.
Catholic government. Liberal military rebellion overthrows Isabel II. Provisional government. General elections and promulgation of a new constitution for the Second Spanish Re- public. Law of Political Reform is ap- proved, which reestablishes democracy in Spain. To fulfill this purpose, we have chosen a gradual approach to study biology curricula throughout the century, beginning with a brief presentation of the Na- tional Curricula and its social and political environment, and continuing with a quantitative study of the presence of the sciences in these curricula, the place occupied by biology between the sciences, and finally the treatment of the different issues included in biology subjects.
The results of this approach are summarized in the data displayed in Figures 1 — 3. This quantitative study was made by calculating the average percentage of hours per week allocated in official timetables in relation to the overall weekly schooling hours in each curriculum. The years included in this study are shown in Table 1.
It is necessary to take into account that all values obtained correspond to the maximum possible dedication in biology, because we have included only the cases of scientific orientation that include biology when science subjects are not compulsory. It is also worth noting that all possible optional subjects have been included in the calculations.
Other methods for analysis of the Figure 1. Percent of dedication to the secondary education subjects included in Spanish national curricula throughout the twentieth century covering age 10 until university.
Figure 2. Percent of dedication to the secondary education to mathematics and sciences subjects included in Spanish national curricula throughout the twentieth century covering age 10 until university.
Figure 1 shows the relative percentage timetable reserved for the different subjects among all school years considered.
Subjects are displayed according to: Sciences and math. Biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, and physics. Classical languages Greek and Latin , geography, history, philosophy, and Spanish language and literature. Foreign languages.
Catholic doctrine. Several subjects considered as complementary that appear and dis- appear among different curricula e. The data displayed in Figure 2 were obtained using the same procedure, but focused only on science and mathematics.
The reason for grouping together physics and chemistry, and splitting biology and geology, is because physics and chemistry have shared exactly the same timetable portion in all curricula, whereas geology and biology have not, with geology usually occupying, on average, less than one third of the time allocated for natural sciences.
Data from Figure 3 were obtained by examining the biology content published in the nine national curricula, and we compared these data with those obtained from a study of the content of some of the most popular textbooks in each period to verify if textbooks did or did not follow published curricula. Both approaches matched almost exactly, and we concluded that these data can be used as a useful indicator of the biology taught in Spanish classrooms throughout the century.
To construct the categories shown in Figure 3, we needed to use some conventions. Relative percent of presence of topics in secondary education biology subjects of the Spanish national curriculum throughout the twentieth century covering age 10 until university so we have included it in the category of botany. In a fairly precise sense, the formulated categories match well enough with the distribution of topics that can be found in the majority of modern general biology textbooks.
The most plausible reason for this change would be the strong humanistic focus of the curriculum, which considered sciences and mathematics weak cultural components. The need to make room for these topics, as well as the class time needed to reincorporate the Catholic religion and introduce patriotic indoctrination as a compulsory subject, were all acting together in an environment hostile to sciences that also aimed to build a strong humanistic education.
This represents a suitable combination of factors that may explain the decreased importance of the sciences and mathematics during this time. Despite the peculiar characteristics of the curriculum, the remaining data in Figure 1 seem quite stable, with minor variations.
Thereafter, the recovery of these subjects to former levels of dedication is noteworthy. For biology the case was different, however. Level of dedication to biology after the war showed a recovery lower than that of other science and mathematics categories, and biology never again reached the pre-war level.
This is a clear verification of the controversial character attrib- uted to much of the content of biology by some of the powerful social groups in Spain — which, unfortunately, seems to represent a worldwide phenomenon. This matter will be examined later. It is also of interest to note, in Figure 2, the decline of sciences in the new Spanish national curriculum.
Except for geology, the rest of the sciences have shown a decrease in time dedicated to them, particularly because more time has been required to make room for new subjects such as the first languages of some Spanish autonomous communities, music, health, environmental education, etc.
Some critics of this last reform are arguing that this implementation will severely decrease learning standards in science, and they may be right. However, a solution for this problem would not be merely to allocate more time for sciences in the timetables. A more serious problem involves the vast extension of science topics in the new national curriculum. We very much welcome the new status of all native languages in schools and the introduction of new interdisciplinary subjects such as health or environmental education, to mention only two.
We are also aware that it is difficult to make room for all potentially interesting topics in a sensible timetable.