Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Physics...Whassatt then?

Here's an article which shows what's happening to Science Teaching in the UK.

CASE (Campaign And Science Engineering) seem to have their heads screwed on and all credit to them for exposing the lack of properly qualified Science Teachers. I think they used to be called 'Save British Science' (BSS) Here's their website if you want to join.

I shall sleep soundly tonight knowing that we have enough Drama Teachers though.


alanorei said...

Thanks, Mr. C.

Most commendable. I've forwarded the articles to Mel Phillips. She takes a keen interest in educational matters.

In the 26 years that I was in HE, I and my colleagues did see students coming in increasingly less well prepared in basic sciences at 6th Form/Year 12/13 level for the demands of a traditional engineering course.

I wish these campaigners every success therefore and hope that they get full support from the St Johns's of this realm (see Mr C's book - the students there are all motivated, hard-working and well behaved and have names like Peter and Susan and Helen instead of Dwayne, Shaz or Tequila and don't come from the Cherry Tree Estate. More power to them.)

Anonymous said...

I've just done the exams analysis for the Science dept in this school and as usual, the kids do best at Biology (because they cover a lot of it in other subjects, it's more purely descriptive than the other Sciences, and it forms the content of many TV programmes), not very well at Physics but really poorly at Chemistry.

Two teachers are leaving, neither a chemist. Their jobs have had money thrown at them to attract a Chemistry specialist but not one even applied. It is not possible to take Chemistry or Physics A-level here, not that there has been an overwhelming demand, becaue no-one has ever taught it. But if it were, we would be taking kids with B/C at GCSE in those subjects (no-one has got an A for years), and the leap of understanding required to bridge that gap would I fear be unlikely to see many of the kids waste their time with it beyond AS and risk a low points score.

Anonymous said...

What you describe is what's happening to science teaching not in the UK, but in England: a typically London-centric report, I'm afraid.

North of the border there is a good deal more trust of teachers to develop and "deliver" a better education and a requirement that you have to be a graduate physicist (or damned close) to teach the subject. No "Golden Hellos" or other bribes and incentives to get well-qualified and well-motivated scientists into education - a national payscale and an intelligent education development system bring us happily to the task.

It's your centrally-buggered-about-with, prescriptive and half-arsed education system that's the problem, and it's most obviously apparent where the teaching skills are rarest: physics is one such area, this is why you see the problem you have.

Anonymous said...

There are also plenty of teachers for Mickey mouse subjects such as ict, business studies, tourism and leisure, childcare, social studies, dance, the list of jobs for kids who think they get a valid qualification goes on....and when they leave school, all they need to do is to say "do you want fries with that" or stack shelves at Tescos. Well, at least they can put their drama lessons to good use by tap-dancing along the aisles

Anonymous said...

Oh is THAT what they use their Drama lessons for. I thought it was to perfect that snarling, bored, huffy or affronted expression when you ask them to assist you. Surely it's not genuine?

Anonymous said...

I actually really enjoyed my Drama classes when I was at school, thank you very much. And that's much more than I could ever say about Physics and Chemistry - both tedious subjects taught by Welsh 'stuffed shirts'!

Long Live the Arts!!

Anonymous said...

Drama studies can enable a student to become actors, directors etc, which can be very high paid

Tell me, which really high paid jobs does a physics degree lead to?

If chemistry, physics and engineering lead to high paid jobs, that had high barriers to entry and were difficult to outsource I would recommend students did them, but until that happens I will tell them to become Plumbers, Electricians, Actors and film directors.

Anonymous said...

How high are the unemployment figures of budding "actors" , "dancers" and "directors"? Astronomical. How are the unemployment figures of physics/chemistry/biology graduates?? Nil. Says it all. Many kids wanna be stars or professional footballers, hence the adoration for hollow nobodies like the Beckhams and all those psychos on big Brother. Has anyone with an a level or a degree ever been on BB?

Anonymous said...

I know plenty of people who have physics/chemistry/Biology or engineering degrees who are unemployed/underemployed.

If physics etc lead to high paid jobs, with high barriers to entry and difficult to offshore (e.g. LAW) do you really think their would be a shortage?

Now thanks to student loans/tuition fees, you have to look at how much money you will earn at the end of your degree - what are the high paying jobs for physics again?

Industry is now bringing in Poles/east Europeans and paying minimum wage to get these skills, what does that tell you about how much that value these types of skillset.