Monday, June 11, 2007

Lost: The subject of Physics

Here's an excellent letter from a Physics Teacher begging for the safe return of his subject.

And I have found the missing 'j' from my title.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet another example of non-education contributing to the overarching aim of the elite: to keep the masses under control.

Anonymous said...

I hope to start a PGCE in Chemistry in September after 20 years in business. It strikes me that there are two different approaches to science that need to be taught to children. The first is the softer science that every child should now, as typified by the physics teachers letter, and which helps children, who are not particularly interested in science and are not going to work in a scientific or technical environment, come to an understanding of the natural world that they live in without the really challenging bits putting them off. The second is the harder stuff: for those of us who are interested and for the sake of industry/commerce and research.

As usual, the government has come to a compromise and ended up pleasing no one.

As to what I would tell pupils interested in studying A-Level chemistry (previous thread) I would say yes: if they are genuinely interested/stimulated by the subject (as I was) and that they shouldn’t worry about their career because, in my experience, most jobs that are open to Business Studies graduates are also open to Science graduates. For example, the big accountancy firms are not so interested in the subject studied but the quality of the candidate.

Anonymous said...

Teach that sort of stuff by all means, but don't you DARE call it 'physics'.

liz ward said...

Unbelievable. I'd suggest children would be better off leaving school at 14 and enrolling on Open University courses.

horrorfan said...

It's bloody disgusting! Look I'm sorry but education is supposed to be hard and challenging, it's not supposed to be easy to gain qualifications. When oh when will they stop dumbing down our education system? This is a result of the government wanting 50% of the population to go to university. In simple terms that will mean that the academic standards will have to drop in order for half the population to gain a degree; then a degree will become as academically valuable as A'Levels were about 20 years or so ago.

Higher education must remain the gold stand, and again I'm sorry but, in order for that to happen it must remain elitist, in as much as it is very bloody difficult to attain, therefore only the brightest and most hard working are able to do so. If we carry on like this you'll need a degree to stack the shelves at Tesco!

The other reason for all this is that we've lost our minning, textile and manufacturing base, so without wishing to sound too cruel, the less academically able people have no choice but to somehow get academic qualifications in order to work in a service sector style ecconomy. Look some people will only ever be fit for working down a mine or on a production line, it's simply square pegs and round holes.

alanorei said...

I totally agree with all the sentiments expressed here and, as an ex-HE lecturer, have a lot of common ground with Horrorfan.

It is to be hoped that somehow, a strategy can be devised to reverse the dumbing-down that is depriving our youngsters.

Anonymous said...

oh God he's back!! Save yourselves!!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the " The science syllabus according to Alanorei".

I wonder if pupils of the past rode to school on a dinosaur every morning?

Dauve said...

I'm a physics undergraduate at university and have seriously considered a career as a physics teacher at secondary school. It seems that the syllabus described in the letter is only really meant for the kids who have no intention of following on science education in the future, and there are (hopefully) other syllabuses available for the brighter kids. Even so, it is pretty shocking that some people will end their science education with very little knowledge of how basic science actually works.

When I did my GCSEs (only 3 years ago) at a comprehensive school, we were given the option to study a triple science course, which was 3 seperate GCSEs in physics, chemistry and biology, which seemed to be for all those wanted to continue science, at least through to A Level.

Byter said...

My year-10 child, who used to love physics, has been making exactly this complaint since September.

Anonymous said...

"Lost: The subect of Physics"
What's a subect?

colonel sandy said...

Two things: first, why not have TWO physics subjects - one for the real subject for real students, and another waffly thing for the non-academic lot? Makes sense to me. You could call it 'Physics-Lite', or something hip like that.

Secondly - who stole the letter 'j' from the title of your piece? Another mystery...

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why. The schools would force kids to take the easy version to improve their place in the league tables.

Anonymous said...

we've just been informed that we have to teach all subjects through the dance, drama, art and music - how do I teach mathematics? Can you role play long multiplication for me?

dexey said...

Byter said...
My year-10 child, who used to love physics, has been making exactly this complaint since September.
21:09

I can't help but wonder just where a 10 year old has been loving physics. Certainly not in a state junior school where the syllabus as not differentiated between any branches of scince fr many years.

muso-tim said...

I read it like that at first, Dexey, but it says year 10 not 10 year old. In year 10 students are 15.

Dave Bartlett said...

The Register have done a piece on this, tying it into Civitas' Corruption of the Curriculum report.

Tom Welsh said...

In his autobiography, the famous English physicist Freeman Dyson wrote that he studied mathematics at school because it was subversive. Moreover, he reckoned that many other young people felt the same way. To be interested in mathematics entailed learning rigour, discipline, and precision - none of which were congenial, or even comprehensible, to most children (and adults).

Dyson added that, in his opinion, state programmes to boost the study of maths and science were directly counterproductive, as people like himself would run a mile from anything they felt the government was trying to con them into.

You can see the same principles at work with the global warming movement. After decades of normal scientific study, the politicians have now glommed onto one simple factoid: the world is getting too hot because of human CO2 emissions. Result: scientists who dare to question this religious dogma are now persecuted and suppressed. Go figure.

Dave Bartlett said...

@Tom Welsh
"Result: scientists who dare to question this religious dogma are now persecuted and suppressed."

In the NPR debate 'Global Warming is not a crisis' the heretics won the day. Chin up.

dexey said...

My apologies to byter.
The eyes and brain aren't what they were.

DorsetDipper said...

I'm also a physics graduate. When I did physics in the 1970's, many girls did not do physics o'level as at 13 they disliked the subject. Later many of them wanted to study other sciences but were prevented by lack of a physics o-level. So for many people they were let down badly by the structure of science teaching.

It seems we want to accomplish two things; to educate most people to a sufficient standard to be able to participate in scientific debates and issues that arise in daily life, and to educate the few who have a particular flare for physics to a high level.