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Darwin-Inspired Learning

2015 - 450 pages

Carolyn J. Boulter (University of London, Institute of Education, UK), Michael J. Reiss (University of London, Institute of Education, UK) and Dawn L. Sanders (Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden) (Eds.)

ISBN Paperback: 9789462098312 ($ 43.00)
ISBN Hardcover: 9789462098329 ($ 99.00)
ISBN E-Book: 9789462098336

Subject: Education General, Science Education, Creativity, Critical Thinking

Number 28 of the series: New Directions in Mathematics and Science Education

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Darwin-Inspired Learning

Charles Darwin has been extensively analysed and written about as a scientist, Victorian, father and husband. However, this is the first book to present a carefully thought out pedagogical approach to learning that is centered on Darwin’s life and scientific practice. The ways in which Darwin developed his scientific ideas, and their far reaching effects, continue to challenge and provoke contemporary teachers and learners, inspiring them to consider both how scientists work and how individual humans ‘read nature’.

Darwin-inspired learning, as proposed in this international collection of essays, is an enquiry-based pedagogy, that takes the professional practice of Charles Darwin as its source. Without seeking to idealise the man, Darwin-inspired learning places importance on:

  • active learning
  • hands-on enquiry
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • argumentation
  • interdisciplinarity.

In an increasingly urbanised world, first-hand observations of living plants and animals are becoming rarer. Indeed, some commentators suggest that such encounters are under threat and children are living in a time of ‘nature-deficit’. Darwin-inspired learning, with its focus on close observation and hands-on enquiry, seeks to re-engage children and young people with the living world through critical and creative thinking modeled on Darwin’s life and science.


This interesting book imaginatively connects Charles Darwin the scientist with new approaches to science education.  It shows what can be learnt from Darwin about doing science – his outstanding experimental skills, his ability to observe the natural world acutely, and his ability to synthesise information and produce general laws.  The book connects these ways of doing science with teaching today, placing particular emphasis on studying the roles that the outdoor living world and natural history can play.  Exposing pupils to this thinking and encouraging them to ‘read’ nature and by doing so to participate in real science, provides new and exciting dimensions to the teaching of science in schools.  This unusual book sets out an important agenda, making use of the natural living world in ways inspired by Darwin’s genius, to stimulate science education at all stages of a young person’s school experience. – Professor Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society

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