This article offers a critique of constructivism in science education which is an attempt to define and identify not only the weaknesses, but the successes of constructivism. Its success has been to generate a significant body of empirical data which has contributed to our knowledge and understanding of difficulties in the learning of science. That knowledge has also enabled the development of some innovative methodology for the pedagogy of science and a greater awareness of the learner. However, as a theoretical referent, it suffers from a flawed instrumental epistemology which is a misrepresentation of the views and practice of science and scientists. Further it has confused the manner in which new knowledge is made with the manner in which old knowledge is learned, assuming that the two are one and the same thing. The result of these failings is that it offers no guidance on adjudication between theories, the organization and sequencing of content within the science curriculum and rejects any value for didacticism. The failure of constructivism to recognize its own limitations has lead to it enjoying a hegemony in the research community which is undeserved. Instead, it is proposed that an alternative of modest realism offers, not only a better representation of the practice of science, but additionally some value in determining issues of pedagogy.
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