Toward preparing students for change: A critical discussion of the contribution of the history of physics in physics teaching
In this paper I place physics teaching, and the inclusion of the history of physics into teaching, within a wide context. I start from the conviction that there are considerable changes ahead in the life circumstances of people in western industrial societies. This expectation should influence our aims of education generally, and in particular the aims of physics teaching. The paper does not offer final solutions, but analyses the situation and thereby argues for a change in perspective in physics teaching. The main idea is that physics teaching has to solve the problem of balancing seemingly incompatible needs, for example, conveying a stock of stable, dependable physics knowledge to students, and on the other hand to train them to see their physics knowledge within varying contexts of change. It is argued that the history of physics can be of high value in solving this problem.