This is not controversial. I'm not aware of anything in the recent pedagogical literature that argues against teaching the nature of science. What's controversial is how to describe what science is all about.
I've written extensively about this controversy.
John Wilkins discusses the "Demarcation Problem"
Territorial demarcation and the meaning of science
Science Doesn't Have All the Answers but Does It Have All the Questions?
Sean Carroll: "What Is Science?"
What Is "Science" According to George Orwell?
What's Wrong with Michael Ruse's View of Accommodationism?
That's not what I want to talk about today.
The pedagogical literature generally ignores the demarcation problem and focuses on how to teach the nature of science (NOS) to students in traditional science classes. A recent paper by Bayir et al. (2014) bucks this trend a little bit by including the opinions of social scientists in their survey of different view on the nature of science. They claim (correctly) that scientific educators have reached a consensus on the core features of NOS. Here they are:
Description of science
Science is an attempt to explain natural phenomena. In other words, science is a body of knowledge about the natural world; and a set of practices, both material and social, which have been used to obtain, and continue to be used to extend, that knowledge.Tentativeness
Although scientific knowledge is reliable and durable, it is never absolute or certain. All scientific knowledge is subject to change.Theory-laden (subjectivity)
Scientific knowledge is theory-laden. Scientists’ theoretical and disciplinary commitments, beliefs, prior knowledge, training, experiences, and expectations unavoidably affect their work.Myth of ‘the scientific method’
The myth of ‘the scientific method’ is regularly manifested in the belief that there is a recipe-like stepwise procedure that all scientists follow when they do science. There is no single ‘scientific method’ used by all scientists to attain infallible scientific knowledge. Scientists use a wide variety of methodologies to generate scientific knowledge.Social and cultural embeddedness of scientific knowledge
Science as a human endeavor is practiced in the context of a larger cultural milieu and its practitioners are the product of that culture. Therefore, science affects and is affected by the various elements and intellectual spheres of the culture in which it is embedded.Creativity and imagination
Science is not solely based on logic and rationality. Generating scientific knowledge requires creativity and imagination. Scientists use their creativity in all stages of scientific investigations.Scientific laws and theories
Scientific laws and theories are very different kinds of scientific knowledge. Laws are descriptive statements of relationships or patterns among observable phenomena in nature. Theories are well-supported explanations for scientific phenomenon. One cannot become the other. Also, they do not have hierarchical relationship.Bayir et al. point out that the views of university scientists are very important because they are the ones who teach science students in university and they are the ones who teach future high school and primary school teachers.
They surveyed scientists at a university and discovered that many of them did not have a very good understanding of modern views on the nature of science.
Surprisingly, 87% of scientists think there is a scientific method that describes the way scientists do their work. Most of them believe in the old hypothesis --> testing --> theory view that hasn't been popular among experts for many decades.
Almost half (49%) of natural scientists and 29% of social scientists thought that science was independent of social and cultural biases.
Almost half (48%) of all scientists believed that a theory becomes a law when it is proven.
The authors conclude that "scientists in the sample have neither completely informed views nor completely naive views about NOS according to contemporary science understanding." This pretty much agrees with results from a dozen studies in the pedagogical literature. The new contribution of this study is that there isn't much of a difference between the opinions of scientists in the traditional science fields and social scientists.
What this means is that educators need to be educated about the nature of science before they can be expected to teach it correctly.
Bayir, E., Cakici, Y. and Ertas, O. (2014) Exploring Natural and Social Scientists’ Views of Nature of Science. International Journal of Science Education 36:1286-1312. [doi: 10.1080/09500693.2013.860496]