The purpose of this paper is to examine how Harry Messel, Harold Wyndham, L.C. Robson and Robert Menzies were instrumental in bringing about substantial change in science curriculum and infrastructure reform in NSW schools.
The paper relies on substantial archival research including materials never before examined or used by historians of education history. The paper is divided into sections, the first uses teacher surveys and identifies problems with science teaching in 1958, a key year in education history and each section after that looks at the contribution of Wyndham, Messel, Robson and Menzies in driving a new direction for science education.
The research found that Wyndham, Messel, Robson and Menzies each contributed a new dimension to the reform of science education in Australia. Their individual contributions were substantial, inter-related and interlocking but quite different. The paper argues that it is not adequate to look at science education reform purely as a means to introduce State Aid, rather science education reform was advocated as a means to ensure students had a scientific literacy going forward into a technologically driven future.
The research strikes a path through a vast primary source record to outline how individuals and science teachers more generally believed in science education reform as a mechanism to ensure students were better placed to enter a post-Sputnik world. As a result, known arguments around State Aid are only part of the story and not the main focus of the research. The aim is to supplement that knowledge by looking more at a broader picture for science reform for its own sake.
This paper takes an original approach to the history of curriculum change by providing a broader context for the State Aid debate, that is, by focussing on individual contributions to science education reform for its own sake and because science education was deemed necessary for student literacy in the future. At the same time it uses archival material never before accessed or used to tease out this history. The teachers’ surveys provide a unique insight into conditions for science teachers in the late 1950s. This material has not been accessed before and it provides a context upon which to superimpose the impact of the contributions of Wyndham, Messel, Robson and Menzies.
Clark, J. (2015), "Taking the lead in science education reform in NSW, 1957-1964: Wyndham, Messel, Robson and Menzies", History of Education Review, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 236-252. https://doi.org/10.1108/HER-02-2014-0012Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited