Many science educators have argued in favour of including socioscientific issues (SSI) in general, and ethical issues in particular, in school science. However, there have been a number of objections to this proposal, and it is widely acknowledged that such teaching places additional demands on science teachers. This study examined the curricula, textbooks and views of both student teachers and established teachers in England and in Germany regarding the teaching of ethical issues in secondary school science, particularly the ethical issues surrounding animal tests. Analysis of the curriculum documents for secondary or upper secondary school science showed that in both countries, ethical considerations feature strongly. However, in both countries, the overall treatments in the school textbooks of the ethical issues of animal testing were generally ‘thin’, and little opportunity was given for students to consider different ethical frameworks. The teacher and student teacher interviews revealed that interviewees generally gave ethical issues less emphasis than fundamental science. A number of interviewees referred to a lack of appropriate teaching material, and many of them also had concerns that such teaching could give rise to classroom management issues or that they might be accused of indoctrinating their students. Given the increasing acknowledgement of the need for school science to address so-called wicked socioscientific problems, these findings are a concern. We end with recommendations for curricula, for textbooks and for teacher education.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience & Education
Number of pages33
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18.05.2022
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ID: 1911573