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article imageOp-Ed: Why don’t kids like science – New tests try to find out

By Paul Wallis     Aug 30, 2019 in Science
Sydney - The lack of interest in science, maths and other high-value education is driving some to despair. Researchers are now trying to decipher the problems, and measuring student brain activity.
Research by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is using neuroscience techniques to dig down into the problems. EEG tests are conducted in a live classroom, which is a first, to monitor students. The students are also being asked about how they see their studies.
It’s a productive approach to one of the more baffling, and much less productive areas of education, the obvious turn-offs of students across a swathe of critical subjects.
One of the motivations behind this study is the actual drop off in Australian science and maths. Science isn’t fashionable. Generations brought up to consider anyone with a vocabulary including words with more than one syllable as some sort of freak haven’t been taking up the sciences.
Actually, Australia does a lot of good science, but thanks to our standard Western Mindless Morons R Us culture, there’s not much to encourage people in these areas. In other cultures, sciences are highly valued and respected.
Academic failure - A grim background
In the West, and Australia (sigh) is a standard middle-class cliché-addled Western culture, the exact opposite is the case. Career paths are based on the usual sitcom society myth, and the sciences don’t get a mention.
Academic failure, both overall and individual, isn’t exactly news to the education sector. It’s been a serious topic for decades, everywhere but in government. Generations have crashed into this indifference and mismanagement, and the problems are simply getting worse.
Ironically, most politicians have degrees in just about everything BUT the sciences. (An economics student told me recently that her lecturer described economics as "the science of making the obvious incomprehensible". Maybe that’s why politicians are so drawn to their kindergarten version of economics, particularly regarding critical skills training.)
Another twist in this inglorious academic meltdown is that while the demand for college graduates is now an expensive social crusade, there’s no clear prioritization of skills needs. It’s easier to get trained as a lawyer or an accountant than as a scientist or mathematician.
Even if there was a huge demand, that demand would be unlikely to be met. The hideous exclusionism of “college culture” is almost beyond belief. Just getting in is too hard for some. There may be millions of people who want to study sciences, but where’s the access, let alone the capacity?
A handful may get actual training and qualifications. Who knows how many other people might benefit? There’s precious little chance of ever finding out in the current environment.
What’s so important about this research? Consider the “educational decay” mindset
If the background is grim, there’s a truly bizarre mindset behind these astonishing educational failures:
• Some intellectual property is worth more than some countries, but perish the thought that anyone should learn how to create intellectual property.
• Science drives all the fabulous must-have tech and gizmos; who needs to know how or why?
• Science translates into the Holy Grail of modern society, money, in endless ways, but why would anyone invest in training to do it?
• Science, which generates billions of dollars per day is valued and pays less than media and chat shows that generate almost nothing of hard value. These priorities are locked in and actually define the anti-science, anti-education mentality. Insane? Yes. Incompetent? Yes.
The standard mindset driving and permitting educational decay acts as though Silicon Valley and the digital economy never happened, and the global tech giants aren’t worth trillions. It’s about as unrealistic an approach to education as possible. Just check the NASDAQ for the value of real science. https://new.nasdaq.com/
The economic damage of educational failure is well-known. Lack of skills means lack of economic capacity and options. The real economy, as distinct from the markets, is based on actual science in countless forms.
Think about it- Everything you’ve ever owned had to be designed and made using sciences. The medical science that holds you together had to be researched and developed. The technologies which will redesign the world are all based on the sciences struggling to find their next generations.
This research is absolute baseline data, very much to its credit. Baseline research generates a lot of hard information, and this information couldn’t be more critical. It’s about total failure in education in truly vital skills and knowledge required for the world to function at all. It’s also about going in at the coalface and finding out what’s wrong.
About time, you say? You’re not wrong. The overall decline in education is all too well understood by the education sector, The UNSW research could have sector-wide values for educators to fix the whole, tattered K12 spectrum.
Ironically, it’s good science and good scientific principles which are doing the research. Make a point?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about student reactions to science teaching, Neuroscience, EEG study of students learning, academic failure, training access for science studies
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