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The Scientific Mind *


"Science is not a mechanism but a human progress, and not a set of findings but the search for them."

Jacob Bronowski, 1956. (in: Science and Human Values)


The scientific mind comprises attitudes and skills dispositioning people to question the facts and critically challenge the 'givenness' of any a priori knowledge and authority. It also represents a high level of aesthetic and moral conscience. Development of the true scientific spirit is important not only to create a scientifically literate population, but particularly also to create a citizenry that can creatively and constructively respond to the challenges of the world of the 21st century. So many of these challenges being of a global nature, it is particularly important to stimulate the development of the scientific spirit in the context of global learning communities. Computer networking is a technology that has, if well designed and applied, important potential in this regard.
It is important that developing a scientific disposition be experienced and engaged in as something that involves both the mind and the body, in ways appealing to faculties across the intelligence spectrum. This also means that its pursuit should not be limited to matters of the scientific disciplines per se, but equally address transdisciplinary concerns, breaking through the barriers that traditionally separate different content areas, seeking the unity of knowledge. Moreover, the scientific mind belongs to everyone. It relates to people's sense of freedom, responsibility, astonishment, recognition, gratitude. The question thus is: What conditions in the learning environment do best allow the scientific mind to develop and evolve? This question is clearly relevant in the context of rethinking school-based learning. It is equally or even more relevant and important a question when considering the learning environment at large and when looking at learning in the context of lifespan human development.
A small group of people, particularly from among the contributors to the AERA Symposium on Overcoming the Underdevelopment of Learning, initially dedicated itself to clarifying the concept. A transdisciplinary workshop for invited participants, conceived as an important start-up activity for a long-term program, was tentatively planned to be held at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, as part of LDI's collaboration in this area with the International Council for Science (ICSU), the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), and the Forum International des Sciences Humaines (FISH). That workshop never took place. However, in the process of developing the plans to hold it, the idea transformed and eventually resulted in holding the Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2005) in May 2005 in The Hague, The Netherlands, followed by other such colloquia on a biennial basis. Further information can be obtained by reading the Concept Paper on The Scientific Mind in Context, by consulting the various BtSM pages listed below, or by writing to
Related material, including a paper by Meira Van der Spa on "Cyber-communities: Idle talk or inspirational interaction?," can be found on the MOC (Mind over Competency) page on this Web site.
For an update regarding of the history of the BtSM colloquia and plans for the Future until 2015, please consult the document on The State of BtSM, dated 7 October 2011.
See also:
For the love of science (open educational resources for those passionate about science).
Fifth Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2013) (Bandung/Lembang, Indonesia, 27 to 31 May 2012)
Fourth Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2011) (Stellenbosh, South Africa, 7 to 11 March 2011).
Third Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2009) (Cairo, Egypt, 10 to 14 May 2009).
Second Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2007) (Vancouver, BC, Canada, May 28 to June 1, 2007).
Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2005) (The Hague, The Netherlands, May 17-20, 2005).
)* 'Mind' is to be interpreted here as 'mindset'. It comprises ways of thinking, attitudes and emotions. It connotes not only cerebral activity, but the body as a whole. It relates to the disposition of individuals as well as of the communities they pertain to.
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