原子力と教育―「不確かさ」を学ぶこと

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 30
EDITORIAL: Schools need to encourage children to think about nuclear power
原子力と教育―「不確かさ」を学ぶこと

School teachers across Japan have been grappling with how to deal with topics concerning nuclear power and radiation in their classes since disaster flared at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March.
 原子力や放射線のことをどう教えるか。原発事故の後、先生たちが頭を悩ませている。

There has been a long hiatus in Japanese education on nuclear energy.
 日本の教育の場には、長い長い空白があった。

Japanese in their mid-40s and older learned in junior high school that atoms of radioactive elements change into atoms of different elements by emitting radiation.
 「放射性元素の原子は、放射線を出してほかの元素の原子に変わる」。中学校の理科でこう習ったのは、40歳代半ばから上の世代だ。

Since the 1980s, however, the topic of radiation has been dropped off the science curriculum under a government policy of making school education free from pressure, which has significantly reduced educational content.
1980年代以降は「ゆとり教育」で学ぶ内容が減らされ、放射線にかかわる授業はなくなった。

On the other hand, the government has been promoting education on nuclear power generation in line with its policy of expanding the use of atomic energy.
 一方、原発推進という国策に沿った「原子力教育」は進められた。

The education ministry often points out what it thinks are problematic descriptions concerning nuclear power generation in its screening of school textbooks.
教科書検定では、原発に触れた記述にたびたび意見がつく。

The government also distributed supplementary readers containing statements stressing the safety of nuclear power generation, such as "Nuclear power plants are designed in a way that ensures they don't release radioactive materials into the environment."
「原発から放射性物質がもれることはない」などと記した副読本を、政府が配った。

But few teachers have shown any enthusiasm for this teaching method.
 ただ、そうした教育に熱心な先生は多くはなかった。

There has been a tendency among teachers to avoid touching on divisive issues where they are widely different views.
賛否が分かれることは、避けるのが無難。そんな空気もあった。

It can be argued that this trend has produced a large number of people who are indifferent to nuclear power generation and its problems.
 結果として、原発やその問題点に無関心な国民が数多く生まれた、とは言えまいか。

The education community ought to engage in some soul-searching with regard to this situation.
教育界も反省を迫られる。

New curriculum guidelines for junior high school that will be fully introduced next spring bring the topic of radiation back into science classes for third-grade students.
 次の春から本格実施される中学の学習指導要領では、3年生で放射線の授業が復活する。

The new syllabus, which was drawn up before the nuclear accident took place, stresses the usefulness of radiation.
事故の前に決まった内容だ。

Students will learn that there is radiation constantly present in the natural environment, and that radiation is used in various medical treatments.
自然界にも放射能があること、医療で使われることを解説し、その有用性に力点が置かれる。

In response to the crisis at the Fukushima plant, the education ministry has compiled three new supplementary readers for classes on radiation at elementary, junior and senior high schools, respectively.
 原発事故を受け、文部科学省は小中高校生向けに、それぞれ新しい副読本をつくった。

Unsurprisingly, these books don't contain statements that emphasize the safety of nuclear power generation.  さすがに原発の安全性を強調する記述はなくなり、

Much space is devoted to descriptions about the effects of radiation on human health and protective measures.
放射線の人体への影響や、身を守る方法にページを割いた。

One of the readers says it is not clear whether exposure to low levels of radiation raises the risk of cancer.
「低い放射線量を受けた場合、がんになる人が増えるかどうかは明確ではない」とも説明。

The supplementary readers do not address problems that arose when radioactive fallout occurred following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
福島事故による放射能汚染の広がりには、踏み込んではいない。

The knowledge and information imparted about nuclear power and radiation to students under the new curriculum is still far from sufficient to fill the gap left by many years of neglect.
 空白を埋めるには、まだまだ不十分だろう。

Clearly, new ways must be devised to teach this topic. This could best be accomplished through research, practice and conversations with local communities.
研究や実践を重ね、地域の声も聞き、新しい授業を組み立てるしかない。

What is the difference between radioactivity and radiation?
 「放射能と放射線はどう違うの」。

It is not easy to help children understand such concepts.
見えないだけに難しい。

But questions like this can be a starting point for children to learn what is necessary to protect themselves.
でもそうしたことを入り口に、身を守るための学びが始まる。

It is also important to make sure that classes on nuclear power and radiation do not trigger unnecessary anxiety and prejudice among students.
無用な不安や偏見を生まないようにすることも大切だ。

With appropriate care and caution, teachers need to teach students both the dangers and merits of radiation.
 そのうえで、放射線の危険性と利点をきちんと教える。

They should also encourage children to think and talk about the accident, as well as various issues concerning nuclear power generation.
事故のことや原発をめぐる議論も、子どもに投げかけてほしい。

Efforts should be focused on helping children to acquire the ability to understand different views, make their own judgments based on scientific knowledge and act on their own.
異なる考え方を理解し、科学の知識をもとに自ら判断し、行動する力を身につけさせる。

Japanese teachers have traditionally been rather weak in helping students learn about problems to which there is no definite answer or those which have unclear elements.
 日本の先生たちは、正解が定まらないこと、不確かなことを学ばせるのは苦手だった。

But facing the risks of radiation and thinking about nuclear power generation is of vital importance for future generations.
 けれども、放射線のリスクに向き合い、原子力のあり方を考えることは、これからの世代にこそ切実な課題である。

Education has a crucial role to play in helping children tackle this challenge.
 教育の役割は重いのだ。
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-02 07:00 | 英字新聞

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