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health, wellness, knowledge of oneself, ethics, environment, communication systems, values, energy, Neoliberalism, growth and the EU and

Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum development, factors in learning how to learn, human social interactions and collaborative resolving civic problems, human diversity, quality of life, real-life problem solving, changed images of science, unsolved problems in science/technology, judicial issues, contemporary science and public policy, food and agriculture, life skills, public
5/26/2013 Gilbert John Zahra

Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

Abstract
In Malta, the 1999 National Minimum Curriculum is in the process of being replaced by the new National Curriculum Framework, with science education receiving a considerable emphasis in both documents. This article aims to critically engage with the political and philosophical assumptions underpinning the constructions of science in these curricula. It will be argued that Malta, as a member-state of the European Union, has been greatly influenced by the views of science that the European Commission has promoted. These views which overlap with similar constructions of science articulated within such international studies as the Programme for International Student Assessment - are in this article portrayed as being underpinned by a strongly neoliberal ideology, altering not only how one interprets the meaning and value of science in contemporary society, but also the goals for science education as well as the pedagogy that is to be deployed to further those goals. The article presents a brief historical analysis on the basis of which it will be argued that there are multiple ways of viewing and teaching science and to suggest a critical re-evaluation of the fundamentals of current science education approaches and practices.

Introduction
Through this article I aim to critically unpack science education as constructed in Maltese curricula and how it has been shaped by some historical events and supranational organisations, mainly the European Union (EU). I will argue how modern science education, ontologically, epistemologically and methodologically, became profoundly imbricated with neoliberalism. It is inaccurate to look at science exclusively as a school subject and, although this will serve as a fixed point of reference in this writing, I hope that the discussion will evolve to become more meaningful. The centre of modern nations and the depths of our minds might well be places where science, in the form of civilisation (Murakami 1993, 1997), is found as a value. Anderson (1991:6) defined a nation as an imagined political community where most fellow-members will have never met or even heard one another, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. Nations are limited, Anderson argues, by set national boundaries which, according to Warf (2012), are also imagined. As the EU pushes forward the concept of being European, boundaries change and a new imagined community is created above the nation state (Field & Murphy, 2006). Europe remains, nonetheless, a construct that provides a reductionist view of fragmented and pluralistic societies (Thomas, 2007:216) within it. Has science education been linked with the creation of this new imagined community? Neoliberalism is not merely policy. It is, additionally, a means of governmentality steering at a distance (Hursh & Martina, 2003; Larner, 2000) marked by interest, investment and competition (Read, 2009:29) and an ideology based on five pillars: the individual; freedom of choice; market security; laissez faire, and minimal government (Larner, 2000:7). While it will be argued that the EU bears and drives a neoliberal agenda, it must be noted that the EU does not encompass all of Europe and any reference to something as European must be critically analysed within its respective context.

Gilbert John Zahra

Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

Neoliberalism, the EU and Education


The EU is a direct descendent of the European Economic Community. EU institutions are marked by three Ms: money, market and mobility (Perthes, 2011:78). As the main aims of the Community were economic and political, education did not feature in the Unions agenda before the Lisbon Treaty where, with the aim of becoming a forefront example of a knowledge economy and turn the tide of global competition in its favour, education assumed an increasingly central role (Sultana & Kuhn, 2006:1). This stance is not exclusively European and the Lisbon Treaty arguments are shared with Japan and the USA, economic blocks identified as EUs competitors (Dale & Robertson, 2006). Schooling can serve to educate a population in three main ways technical (also called utilitarian, economic or traditional), liberal/humanistic (emancipatory), or for socio-political action (Schultz, 2009) with curricula usually trying to reach compromises between such contradictory aims (Schultz, 2009; Adamson & Morris, 2007). However, the cultural and national aims of education have become diluted with economic ones (Huisan & Van Der Wende, 2004), where the main aim of education is that of preparing human capital, as demanded in various EU documents (see European Commission, 2004; Council, 2006). The neoliberal project requires the reformulation of public understanding of education so that its role satisfies the wants of the capitalist class of producing passive worker/citizens with just enough skills to render themselves useful to the demands of capital (Hill, 2006:11). Schooling, in the neoliberal project, must not only imbue students with the skills needed for employability, but also with the ideological indoctrination that, as Thatcher said, There is no alternative to neoliberalism (Hill, 2006). However, education is not limited to schooling. To remain employable throughout ones lifetime, continuous learning is required (Kaske, 2006:105). Emerging from the humanistic/radical discourse of lifelong education, the discourse on lifelong learning (LLL), as learning from the cradle to the grave, imbued with technological, cultural and economic transformations, has become hegemonic for the preparation of human capital (Kuhn & Sultana, 2006:4). It is argued, however, that LLL is not only education for employability, but also for social unity (Seddon & Mellor, 2006; Ure, 2006). Hoskins maintains that the EU agenda is not solely neoliberal, but includes multiple voices such as the one for human values, social justice and democracy in Europe, even if others argue that this discourse is merely a hypocrisy a cover-up of the EUs economic agenda (Hoskins, 2008:319). Stuart and Greenwood (2006:136) point out that, even if the definition of LLL was widened to include non-work-related aims, the European Employment Strategy remained responsible for the actual evaluation of national strategies and progress with regard to lifelong learning. On the other hand, Keep (2006) argues that it is individual countries that devaluate social cohesion and inflate economic aims when employing their National Action Plans. Competitiveness and social cohesion are generally seen as conflicting (Fainstein, 2001; Welch, 2001) even if, sometimes, high levels of both are attainable (Ure, 2006; Green, 2006; Fainstein, 2001). Competitivity is associated with greater segmentation, social exclusion and inequality as a consequence of economic growth and urban competition (Fainstein, 2001:884). Harvey (2005) argues that neoliberalism has been successful in ensuring that the wealthiest get wealthier: the Gilbert John Zahra

Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

income of CEOs increased, compared to the median salary of workers, from 30:1 in 1970 to 500:1 by 2000. Kaplan et al. have shown that wider income differences are associated with numerous social variables likely to affect health, including poorer educational attainment, violent crime, welfare dependency, and unemployment (Wilkinson, 1997:1504). While these are not the only contradicting homilies within EU, Dale and Robertson (2006:24) note that not all discourses have the same weighting, with competitiveness being the master discourse. It is argued that social cohesion and stability are more likely to advance economic growth than social unrest (Perthes, 2011; Sultana, 1995). Economic arguments can be formulated for most, if not all, of the EUs sermons in education. For example, the increased number of women studying science (Sultana, 1995) is related to women being the most obvious source for increasing human resources for science and technology in Europe (Gago et al., 2004). The individual is a very important concept in neoliberalism (Larner, 2000) where, re-quoting Thatcher, there is no such thing as society () people must look to themselves first. Individualism, along with and job instability encourages workers to see themselves not as workers in a political sense, who have something to gain through solidarity and collective organization, but as companies of one. They become individuals for whom every action, from taking courses on a new computer software application to having their teeth whitened, can be considered an investment in human capital (Read, 2009:30). To acquire skills, Personal responsibility and self-development are important (European Commission, 2011). Within such contexts, learning becomes an individual responsibility (Magalhes & Stoer, 2006; Ure, 2006) and the individual becomes blameable for his/her employment or unemployment (Stuart & Greenwood, 2006; Kuhn & Sultana, 2006). Although a higher level of education means higher earnings, better health, and a longer life (OECD, 2008:1), such education-employment barter is not guaranteed. Learning for employability is an investment that involves risk-taking. This makes the individual worker an entrepreneur (Hursh & Martina, 2003), blurring the distinction between the capitalist and the working classes, thus creating a society of capital, capitalists and entrepreneurs (Read, 2009). In fact, the spirit of enterprise (European Commission, 2004:2) features as an important part of LLL for human resource development in EU (Hingel, 2001:14) and other neoliberal documents (Armstrong, 2001). Bearing these arguments in mind, I shall consider the main aim of schooling and LLL, as preached by EU documents, to fit a neoliberal agenda.

Neoliberalism and the Maltese Curriculum


Lifelong learning ( is) no longer a luxury but a necessity (World Bank, 2008:111). The widespread use of the term knowledge society/economy, with enhanced emphasis on learning, knowledge and qualifications, reflects this ideology (Rasmussen, 2006). Although the discourse on LLL has been absorbed by most EU countries (Council, 2006), it does not necessarily mean that this neoliberal idea

Gilbert John Zahra

Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

has penetrated all countries because there are multiple ways of understanding LLL (Green, 2006; Keep, 2006) and the knowledge society (Green, 2006). In Malta, the new 2012 National Curriculum Framework (NCF), successor of the 1999 National Minimum Curriculum (NMC), has been criticized for swapping the emancipating discourse on lifelong education with the neoliberal one on LLL and for failing to deliberately state concerns for social justice (The Times of Malta, 2012). The NMC contained a section dedicated to lifelong education with an emphasis on social and personal needs: In a world that is changing rapidly, the educational community must realise that the idea that students can emerge from the compulsory educational system with a body of knowledge that can serve them for the rest of their lives is simply unrealistic. () An educational system that promotes this idea is not capable of satisfying one's personal and social needs beyond the compulsory schooling period (Ministry of Education, 1999:20). The 2012 NCF agreed that aims of social justice were not made clear enough in initial drafts and adjusted by including social justice as an additional aim. With regards to the other critique, the NCF stated that: In a global environment that is increasingly becoming more complex, knowledge-based, and intrinsically intertwined with information, communications and technology the education system cannot be divested from the importance of the ability of Maltas future adults to successfully make the transition not just into employment, but into value-added employment. The development of Maltas vision as a high value-added knowledge and service base economy, as well as becoming one of the leading Member States in implementing the EU 2020 Strategy, will not be achieved if the NCF isolates itself from the nations economic aspirations and goals. () Studies show that foreign and local employers consider Maltese workers to be hardworking, flexible, intelligent, adaptable, trainable and diligent but caution that potential dangers lurk: entrepreneurial spirit, discipline, work ethos, self-development in young and emerging workers are perceived to be regressing when compared to workers who are 30 years of age and over. () Securing the values, knowledge, competencies and skills to enjoy employment is, also, a form of social justice as it ensures that they do not run the risk of becoming dependent on the State for their well-being because the education system would have failed them. (Ministry of Education and Employment, 2012:7) The repetition of key terms reveals the message put across by a text (Tonkiss, 2004). On performing and analysing word search results in the 1999 and 2012 curricula (Figure 1), it is suggested that economic aims fused with social justice and cohesion, as used in EU or other neoliberal documents, have become fashionable in the new curriculum. The EU, adopting the Open Method of Coordination, aims to have countries broadly moving in the same direction (Hoskins, 2008; Huisan & Van Der Wende, 2004) and this seems to have been successful in the case of the Maltese curriculum. In the NCF there is also an increased emphasis on science education and on inquiry learning as a methodology for teaching science. However, why should a curriculum entrenched in neoliberal Gilbert John Zahra

Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

beliefs emphasize science education? Are there links between science and the knowledge society/economy? Is a child-centred, inquiry-based pedagogy imbued with capitalistic aims?

Occurrences of some terms in local curricula


80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 NMC NCF

Figure 1: A comparison of the jargon used in the 1999 NMC and 2012 NCF

NMC Lifelong Education/Learning Community Economic Employability Employment Knowledge Society/Economy Entrepreneur (or related) Risk-taking (or related) Competition Social Cohesion Social Justice Science 8 (Education) 74 21 0 5 0 0 4 0 0 7 42

NCF 51 (Learning) 43 37 18 38 1 26 10 2 7 36 57

Inquiry 1 23 Table 1: A comparison of the jargon used in the 1999 NMC and 2012 NCF Gilbert John Zahra

Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

Science Education and the Knowledge-Based Society/Economy


The Confederation of British Industry had cautioned the UK that skilled labour would disappear unless the number of science graduates was greatly increased (The Science Council, 2008). As Europe has a smaller percentage of scientists than Japan or the USA, the increase in science graduates as human resources has served as a unifying objective and as a strategy to be shared and supported by society at large (Gago et al., 2004). The industry, along with policymakers and science educators, has commenced interventions to increase the number of science students (Sjaastad, 2012). Science education has been linked with the formation of a knowledge economy (Osborne & Dillon, 2011; Roberts, 2007) and such links have been undergoing a process of reification. This is interesting, given that there is a strong negative correlation between attitudes towards science and a countrys UN index of Human Development, that is, the more economically successful a country is, the less positively its students perceive science education (Osborne & Dillon, 2011). The Open Method of Coordination requires indicators and statistics to progress towards Europes targets (European Commission, 2006:46). The OECD has shown increasing interest in education and has been accused of increasing the neoliberal tinge in education (Zaalouk, 2013). The EU covers 80% of OECDs costs to conduct surveys in the member states and PISA functions as an effective tool for evidence-based policies (Grek, 2009). Malta, apart from having participated in such studies, has adopted these to assess and, inevitably, shape its educational systems. PISA, along with TIMSS and PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), is well mentioned in the NCF as a method of assessing science education and the success of curricular reforms. Thus, the definitions of science constructed by such studies become extremely important when locally analysing science education. In its aim to measure how well young adults have acquired the knowledge and skills that are required to function as successful members of society, PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) places scientific literacy as one of its three measures (Walker, 2011:i). Thus, scientific literacy is seen as essential for individuals within society and for society itself. As societies have existed before modern science, scientific literacy is not a value without which all forms of society would crumble, but can probably be linked, if at all, with some form of society. What kind of society places science at its centre? I will engage with this question later, after having discussed scientific literacy and its suggested pedagogy within the local context. Scientific literacy is usually related to an ability of functionality as a citizen within society (Holbrook & Rannikmae, 2009:281), even if there is no agreement of what this ability entails (DeBoer, 2000; Hurd, 1997) and who is its public (Laugksch, 2000). Scientific literacy, a buzzword in science education, remains an ill-defined and controversial concept (Champagne, 2009; Schultz, 2009; Roberts, 2007; Laugksch, 2000). While PISA uses the term knowledge about science to refer to scientific literacy, this knowledge seems to be inevitably based on some culturally-based science content, making its calculation contested (Champagne, 2009; Lau, 2009), elusive and mythical (Miller, 2001:118).

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Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

The main aim of compulsory science, it is argued, cannot be to educate the very few who eventually become professional scientists, but to train all those consumers of scientific knowledge (Osborne & Dillon, 2011; Millar, 2008; Roberts, 2007). This dual-aim has been echoed locally (Vella, 2000; Chetcuti, Pace & Ventura, 2000). The NMC had adopted the aim of ensuring science literacy for all in order to achieve a more widespread knowledge of science (Ministry of Education, 1999:62). This dual-aim had sparked a debate between the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta. The Faculty of Education, supporting and driving these changes, argued against having a curriculum based on the world of work and the production of scientists: one of the main aims of education is to prepare individuals to lead personally fulfilling and socially responsible lives. () The pursuit of scientific literacy therefore aims to equip both future citizens with a basic understanding of science as well as future scientists with a basic understanding of the relationship between science, the individual and the community (Chetcuti, Pace, & Ventura, 2000). However, these were the times of the NMC which, as indicated earlier, was more emancipatory rather than neoliberal. The argument for scientific literacy has been recycled and re-adopted in the NCF: Competence in science is the ability to use a body of knowledge and methods to explain the natural world, in order to identify questions and draw evidence-based conclusions. Competence in science also involves an understanding of the changes caused by human activity and the responsibility of individual citizens. Through their study of science, learners acquire inquiry and critical thinking skills which enable them to ask appropriate questions, devise methods for answering them, obtain and interpret evidence and communicate the conclusions and reasoning that led to them (Ministry of Education and Employment, 2012:35). Basic skills in science & technology are deemed, by employers, to be important aptitudes (European Commission, 2011). In Malta, the time allocated for primary science was two hours a week, even though most primary teachers allocated between thirty to sixty minutes for science (Vassallo & Musumeci, 2012). However, the emphasis on science education has increased with the Minister of Education and Employment proposing that the time for the subject in primary schools be tripled (Times of Malta, 2013). The emphasis on mathematics and science inevitably deprives children from other important subjects, such as the arts and physical education (Robinson, 2006). While in the NMC religious education, specifically Catholicism, enjoyed a recurrent prominence, the NCF adopts the term religious and ethics education while suggesting that this subject only takes up 5% of school time. Geography has also been broken down as a subject with a few of its concepts being included in other subjects (Times of Malta, 2011). On the other hand, it is suggested that science contributes 15% of the curriculum in primary schools, the same amount as mathematics. The move from science to science literacy is not neutral: It involves the recognition that all citizens need science education to be worthy members of society. The value of science literacy to a nation is based on the assumption that a science literate citizenry contributes economic prosperity (Champagne, 2009:4). Economic arguments are present in, sufficient to thrust, and able to predict

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Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

outcomes of educational reform in science education: Neoliberal thought has become omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.

Inquiry Based Learning: Education for Employability?


Previously the NMC aimed to make science more accessible to students by emphasising the process of doing science and internalising concepts rather than the gathering of facts (Pace, 2000). The NCF aims to better Maltas ranking in TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PISA and increase the number of science students and graduates (Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family, 2011) by a process of inquiry and investigation (Ministry of Education and Employment, 2012:8). Inquiry learning (IL) and problem-based learning (PBL), along with scientific literacy, are leading discourses in science education. Inquiry has a decades-long and persistent history as the central word used to characterize good science teaching and learning, but the term is ill-defined with an extensive list of uncertainties about its application and effects (Anderson, 2002:1). An explanation, though not universal, of these two forms of learning, which differ mainly in their origin, is provided below: In PBL, students learn content, strategies, and self-directed learning skills through collaboratively solving problems, reflecting on their experiences, and engaging in selfdirected inquiry. In IL, students learn content as well as discipline-specific reasoning skills and practices (often in scientific disciplines) by collaboratively engaging in investigations. Both PBL and IL are organized around relevant, authentic problems or questions. Both place heavy emphasis on collaborative learning and activity. In both, students are cognitively engaged in sensemaking, developing evidence-based explanations, and communicating their ideas. The teacher plays a key role in facilitating the learning process and may provide content knowledge on a just-in-time basis (Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn, 2007:100). The effectiveness of these new forms of teaching remains a debated issue (see Colliver, 2000, vs. Norman & Schmidt, 2000; Kirschner, Sweller & Clark, 2006, vs. Hmelo-Silver, Duncan & Chinn, 2007). Jenkins (2007b:731) concluded that Whether understood as a form of pedagogy or presented as a model of how science is undertaken, inquiry seems to have met, at best, with only modest success. This holds more for teaching and learning content (Norman & Schmidt, 2000). However, IL appears to positively alter attitudes towards learning and its use with groups of Grade 4 students has enhanced creativity; collaboration; research skills; critical thinking ability; information and data analysis ability; communication skills; IT literacy; self-management skills, and; self-directedness (Chu, 2008). To achieve these aims, a call for increased IL is habitually accompanied by a plea for content reduction (MASE, 2012; The Times of Malta, 2012; Faculty of Science University of Malta, 2011; European Commission, 2007; Roberts, 2007; Vella, 2000) as also recognized in the NCF. How would a reduction in science content affect students employability? Arguably, not much since the knowledge required for most vocations is learned on the job (Kagan, 2009:262). Employers are favouring soft skills (behavioural) rather than hard skills (technical) in potential employees (Coll, Zegwaard & Hodges, 2002; Westwood, 2000; Overtoom, 2000). The list of skills sought by Gilbert John Zahra

Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

employers provided by Coll, Zegwaard and Hodges lies in agreement with lists provided by various other researchers and is reproduced below. Ability and willingness to learn; teamwork and cooperation; initiative and analytical thinking; concern for order, quality and accuracy; computer literacy; and written communication skills.

The EU echoes a similar view while arguing for some hard skills, called generic hard skills, required for employability. These soft skills and generic hard skills are skills with high transferability across sectors and occupations and can be identified as transversal skills. () What employers look for is an employee able to do the job and do it well. In this respect, transversal skills that range from problem solving to interpersonal skills are considered important (European Commission, 2011: 9, original emphasis). The following pictorial representation of the skills needed by human capital is presented:

Figure 2: Structure of skills profiles (designed with regard to skills transferability) (European Commission, 2011:18)

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Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

Overtoom (2000) reiterates this argument and refers to Bailey (1997) who recommended clear instructions on how employers needs could be attended to in schools. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Remove the separation between knowing and doing; More active learning as a process of discovery; Deeper understanding and problem solving; Emphasis on collaboration and thought, rather than looking for a single right answer; Learning in context.

There is considerable overlap between employers needs and the outcomes of IL. Hmelo-Silver, Duncan and Chinn (2006:105), on arguing against Kirschner, Sweller & Clarks (2006) criticism of IL, make it clear that one should include not only learning content but also learning softer skills () that are not measured on achievement tests but are important for being lifelong learners and citizens in a knowledge society. The increased emphasis on IL can thus be grouped as a neoliberal discourse for employability. The two tables below summarize the overlap between the new pedagogies and the needs of employers. The three most important skills according to employers Coll, Zegwaard & Hodges (2002) Ability and willingness to learn Skills achieved by inquiry learning Chu (2008)

Research skills, Self-management skills, selfdirectedness Teamwork and cooperation Collaboration, Communication skills Critical thinking skills, Information and data Initiative and analytical thinking analysis Table 2: There is clear overlap between employers needs and the outcomes of IL How the needs of employers can be attended to in schools Bailey (1997) cited in Overtoom (2000) Remove the separation between knowing and doing. More active learning as a process of discovery. Deeper understanding and problem solving. Attributes of Inquiry and Problem based learning Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn (2007) students learn () through () solving problems, reflecting on their experiences, and engaging in self-directed inquiry engaging in investigations; evidence-based explanations students learn () strategies, and self-directed learning skills

Emphasis on collaboration and thought, heavy emphasis on collaborative learning and rather than looking for a single right activity; communicating their ideas answer. Learning in context. relevant, authentic problems or questions Table 3: Attributes of inquiry seem to intertwined with the needs of employers

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Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

What society has science at its centre?


Earlier I argued how PISA assesses literacy, mathematical literacy and science literacy as measures of an individuals functionality within society and asked which society places science at its centre. The World Bank seems to posit that it is the knowledge economy that benefits: With respect to the range of subjects, literacy and numeracy remain the foundation of all education systems: in a knowledge economy, the ability to communicate and analyze requires a solid mastery of these basic skills. However, the fundamental subjects now also include the teaching of science and foreign languages (The World Bank, 2008:87). Osborne and Dillon do not think that the main aim of scientific literacy is economic. They argue that, even in Europe needs more Scientists, the driving argument is that science is an important component of our European cultural heritage which provides the most important explanations we have of the material world (Osborne & Dillon, 2011:15). Science is presented as a European legacy, central to European identity and society: Science and technology provide the means to feed people, improve their health, and create wealth (Maziak, 2005:1416). However, Kagan argues that the societies privileged by the advances of science and technology constitute less than 25% of the worlds population and paints a depressing picture of modernity: Despite these dismal material conditions, income inequalities in the United States were much smaller in 1807. Most families owned a house, land, and livestock, had sufficient food, and could count on a net worth of about $2,500. Equally important, a majority believed that a better life was possible and progress inevitable. Although a million Americans suffered the terrible indignity of slavery, about 30 million contemporary Americans live in extreme poverty, some homeless, with little hope of a secure life. Moreover, the America of 1809 did not have 5 million drug addicts (close to the total population of the United States in 1809), rival gangs roaming every large city, a murder rate of 7.4 per 100,000, school shootings, 1.6 million incarcerated adults, almost 5 million reported rapes of women, several million adolescent girls performing oral sex on a boy with whom they had no close relationship, and 2 million youth between 14 and 22 years confessing to be fatalists who believed they had no future and were anticipating suicide (Kagan, 2009:272). Harding (1994) argues that science was not European but multicultural while Maziak (2005) notes that the Arab world played an essential role in science. This does not entirely contradict Osborne and Dillons reference to science as European cultural heritage as Harding goes on to identify five values that made modern science European. One of these values is called the disenchantment of nature (Hawkin, 1999; Harding, 1994). While some argue that modern science commenced in the nineteenth century (Jenkins, 2007a; Murakami, 1993, 1997), others relate the disenchantment of nature to the work of Francis Bacon (1561-1626), sometimes called the father of the scientific method. Bacon believed that nature has to be understood and studied as an artefact, as the work of God's hands, not as something which has purpose and worth of its own (Hawkin, 1999:70). Hence, Hurd (1997) holds that modern science started in the sixteenth century. Once nature becomes an object, it can be studied and used for the benefit of (a small percentage of) humanity. Behind the very word civilization is the idea that man should cultivate nature by Gilbert John Zahra

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Neoliberalism, the EU and Science Education in the Maltese Curriculum

himself into artificially governed and controlled state. Nature, as far as left wild, is only savage and uncivilized (Murakami, 1993:63). Science became modern once it was scientized or civilized (Murakami, 1993, 1997). Modern science, it can be argued, involves a dogma of blind faith in empiricism, accuracy and progressivism (Harding, 1994) and it might have been successful in proselytizing Western society. There exists a dynamic relationship between science, technology and capitalism (Hawkin, 1999), as the disenchantment of nature allowed for great shifts from the medieval to the modern mentality, from feudalism to capitalism, from Ptolemaic to Galilean astronomy, and from Aristotelian to Newtonian physics (Harding, 1994:316). House et al. (2004), describe one American value as rational over aesthetic, religion or superstition (cited in Thomas, 2007:217). Equivalently, the scientific literate citizen Distinguishes evidence from propaganda, fact from fiction, sense from nonsense, and knowledge from opinion (Hurd, 1997:413) and challenges pseudo-scientific information (Laugksch, 2000). It is only with a conviction that objective measures of the world are possible and better than subjective ones that objectification of people and their knowledge becomes possible. The knowledge economy profits from this: Only once knowledge becomes secular and dehumanized can it be moved like money to create advantage and profit (Bernstein, 2006). Never in recorded history has the need for continuous learning taken on such an economic slant (Kaske, 2006:105) thus becoming individualized, personal and less social (Seddon & Mellor, 2006) with qualifications becoming the main motivation for learning (Rasmussen, 2006; Keep, 2006; Broadfoot, 2000). Qualifications act as forms of objectified and institutionalized culture capital, which can be converted into economic capital (Bourdieu, 2006). The power exerted by scientization (civilization) can be linked to that exerted by money, a central pinion of neoliberalism (Harvey, 2005:73) and European institutions (Perthes, 2011:78): Science and money are the same kind of power: the power of abstraction, measurement, quantification (Mumford, 1934, cited in Hawkin, 1999:71). As humans pursue their search for better employment through education, one queries whether we have entered what Foucalt (2006:134) calls the age of the infinite examination and of compulsory objectification. Objectification, disenchantment, scientization and civilisation constitute deeply intertwined terms underpinning modern society.

The Origins of Science Education


The requirements of capitalism have redefined many aspects of society (Dirlik, 1999) and the designated need for science literacy, at the cost of other disciplines, could be one such re-definition. However, such discourse was not leading when science first became part of western curricula in the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, a reference to IL was present along with the idea that science education is not the mere production of scientists. The humanities were firmly entrenched as the subjects that were thought to lead to the most noble and worthy educational outcomes. Scientists had to be careful when arguing the utility of science not to present science as too crassly materialistic and without higher virtue. So in addition to discussing the practical importance of science in a world that was becoming dominated by science and technology, they also said that science provided intellectual training at the highest level not the deductive logic that Gilbert John Zahra

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characterized most of formal education, but the inductive process of observing the natural world and drawing conclusions from it. Students would learn this way of thinking by carrying out independent inquiries and investigations in the laboratory. An attitude of independence would help protect individuals from the possible excesses of arbitrary authority and enable them to participate more fully and effectively in an open democratic society (DeBoer, 2000:583).

In the post-war period, public attitudes towards science varied from adulation to hostility (Miller, 2001; DeBoer, 2000). With the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, the Wests competitor at the time, science education had to be shaken from its very foundations with the aim of producing better scientists (Elkana, 2000; DeBoer, 2000) and ameliorate the public opinion of science (Laugksch, 2000). The concept scientific literacy was coined in this era, probably by Hurd in 1958 (DeBoer, 2000; Laugksch, 2000; Hurd, 1997) along with the recognition of the dual-aim of science (DeBoer, 2000). However, since the emphasis of science education before the space race was not solely technical, it seems that science literacy, as basic science education for all, was hindered or stopped rather than commenced during the space race. Elkana (2000:465) argues that Until the days of the first Sputnik, the tradition in science teaching was to feed the student with huge amounts of information about objective facts, and proved laws of nature, and after the law had been memorized, the teacher performed a demonstration in class. However, new scientists had to have less firm belief in theories as true, in line with the postpositivistic (Guba & Lincoln, 1994) or positivistic-instrumentalist perspectives that developed from Einsteins refutation of classical physics (Elkana, 2000). The students had to actively participate in the re-formulating of science theories by, amongst other measures, adopting inquiry learning, which became the word that could describe the science education revolution following the 1950s (Haury, 1993). Notwithstanding the increased talk for scientific literacy, curricula in the era became increasingly content-based in order to select the best who could become scientists while the remaining population acquired enough knowledge to be sympathetic towards scientists and their work (DeBoer, 2000). The preferred pedagogy was an inquiry approach, not to develop independence of thought as 19th century scientists had argued, but to mirror and thereby appreciate the way scientists themselves did their work (DeBoer, 2000:587). This posits that IL can have a multitude of aims. Research on scientific literacy mushroomed in the 1980s (Roberts, 2007; Laugksch, 2000). This was when the American report A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform was published. This report adopted a crisis-talk (Schultz, 2009) explaining how America had lost its leading edge in science, squandering the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983:9). The curriculum was decreased to the essentials - English, Maths, Science, Computer Literacy, Social Studies and Foreign Languages - with new methods of assessment and accountability being introduced. Science was linked with economic competitivity and in 1989, in Project 2061: Science for All Americans, scientific literacy was related to ones long-term employment prospects (DeBoer, 2000:590). Gilbert John Zahra

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Neoliberal discourse in science education seems to have prevailed and is an acquis of EU documents and the Maltese curriculum. As opposed to the nineteenth century, science and mathematics have become the central forms of knowledge while At the far edge of this hypothetical universe are the arts and literature, but they, too, are subject to this force field of science (Kagan, 2009:246). What history ratifies is that economic competitivity and employability are not the sole possible aims of scientific literacy: DeBoer (2000) identifies nine while Laugksch (2000) identifies eight, most of which fitting an emancipatory or socio-political educational agenda. There are alternatives. Science education has much more to offer. It is a catastrophe that economic competitiveness has become the reason bolstering science education (Garrison and Lawwill, 1992, cited in Laugksch, 2000).

Conclusion
Neoliberal, economic arguments, rather than emancipatory and societal motives, have become canon in education, with organisations such as the EU acting as high priests of this new religion. The Maltese curriculum has been engulfed in this project. However, this does not necessarily mean that the majority of Maltese society has also been proselytized. First of all, schooling cannot be reduced to official documents (Herrera, 2004) and thus it cannot be assumed that neoliberal ideology has become normalized in schools: Teachers shape the curriculum that they enact (Osborne & Dillon, 2011; Fernandez, Ritchie & Barker, 2007; Testa, 2002; Borg & Mayo, 2002; Alexander, 2001). Additionally, even if such talk is normalized, the effects of schooling remain unpredictable (Herrera, 2004). Science literacy and IL, as envisaged in EU documents and adopted in the NCF, are imbued with strong economic driving arguments. Stating that science education is receiving more attention simply because of this argument might sound like a conspiracy-theory since many teachers, including myself, have adopted IL for improved learning of science. However, rather unfortunately, statements like the one reproduced below reinforce my argument: In addition, science and technology are thought to help teach complex problem-solving skills and practical knowledge that are essential to functioning in the labor market. () As for transversal skills, pedagogical reforms implemented worldwide have emphasized two main ideas: (i) the introduction of inquiry-based learning and (ii) the adaptation of teaching to the learning capacity of individual students (The World Bank, 2008:88). Gill (1999) argued how ones worthiness in the social order became defined by consumptive potential. Work has become more than just earning a living, but a definition of social existence (Read, 2009). Labour is now a defining characteristic of individuals whereby statements like I am a teacher or I am a scientist are accepted as powerful personal descriptors. The knowledge economy requires people who appreciate the value of money as a measure of power and success; qualifications as a measure of education and employability; and work as making them human and providing power and success. This can only be done once humanity is fragmented to individual entrepreneurs, ready to take risks and invest in themselves through LLL, convinced that objective measures are always possible and that rational, evidence-based ways of thinking are the most valuable, if not the only, options. Civilisation is the scientization of society. Gilbert John Zahra

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The increased neoliberal tone in education might be a result of changes in society - means of helping people, rather than attempts at shaping them. I am not arguing for the utter annihilation of workrelated skills and knowledge or for the abolishment of science education in schools. History confirms that science education, and schooling in general, can have a wider role. We need to be more critical with suggestions from international organisations. Studies such as PISA should not be allowed to blindly shape schooling if the emancipation of individuals in a truly democratic society lies at our hearts. If education had solely economic aims, then, yes, we would be going in the right direction.

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