Monday, November 17, 2008

The Appliance of Science

Loud bangs, electric shocks, kids' hair standing on end, flames shooting out of apparatus and evacuating the lab as it fills with smoke. These events were a regular part of my lessons (even when I only taught French).

This survey surely can't come as any surprise. Our Kids are less interested in a Science career than those from other EU countries. That's because our Science syllabus is now pretty dull and many teachers do not do any interesting practicals.

There are still teachers who do; but lots of them are put off by the endless safety guidelines that accompany every experiment, others simply don't know what they are allowed to do and a few recent recruits just find Science all a bit of a mystery.

ps After all the recent excitement, the Head from this school has decided to go for a quiet lie down (hopefully not with the Head of Geography or the Drama assistant)


Anonymous said...

My child seems to be a lucky one...her brilliant science teacher ets them carry out all kinds of experiments which invove fire and explosion and such same, and they video it on their mobile phones and homework is to describe the experiment / reaction in detail. I think that's a great example of a teacher using the kids' gadgets to get them doing!!!!
Whenever it's a "science" day, she's off to school "yip[pee it's science today, can't wait!. There ARE good teachers out there but theyare those that say "f***k healt and safety, lets teach the kids how to DO something". And if the kids are given this trust and responsibility, they DO honour it, at lest in our case.

Anonymous said...

The reason why KIDS do not want to study science is because their is no money in it.
When was the last time you heard of a scientist earning the same as a LAWYER?

HOW many lawyers have had their job outsourced to a foreign country?

IF you think that science is worth studying, please make an economic argument why you should put yourself in massive debt for a job that pays no were near what a Lawyer, Accountant earns?

When one of the highest paying careers open to a scientist is becoming a teacher - that should tell you something.

AnneDroid said...

Anonymous, good for your kid's teacher. I love the phone thing.

In 1982/3 (when I was a baby obviously) I did (Scottish) Sixth Year Studies Chemistry, which involved us being allowed to work entirely unsupervised in a lab by ourselves. Of course we didn't follow the syllabus at all, and came up with our own experiments, especially "making potions" (combining random chemicals to see what would happen) and also lighting the end of a reel of copper wire on the bunsen burner and flicking it at the floor in the direction of the door so a row of sparks would go under the door to the neighbouring class. Those were the days...

Anonymous said...

As someone with a science degree (chemistry with stats) and also a Health & Safety Manager, I can only conclude that some of the H&S claptrap comes from amateurs.

H&S isn't about stopping you from doing things; it's about making sure you can do them for a long time to come. (Thanks for that one Keith.)

Obviously the "ban it all" people have never heard of "sensible risk". The HSE has.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a Science Teacher so long as i've made sure there's no significant threat to the kids and i'm doing things safely i could do just about what i wanted.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid a lot of the blame really does lie with the teachers.

Health and Safety is all too often used an as excuse by those who are either too lazy or incompetent

Anonymous said...

There are no jobs in science. Even if you want to be badly off you can not work in it.

As an escaped scientist I am really happy that less people are wasting their time.

Anonymous said...

anne, unfortunately, if you study science, the outcome will be that you might become a science teacher...who would want that for their kid??? No way !!

DorsetDipper said...

one outcome of studying science is that you can get to work in derivatives in some capacity.

Yes I know there's a credit crunch and derivatives are getting the blame, but in a few years time everyone will be back on the derivatives gravy train.

25 year old Computer programmer 60Kpa+

30 year PhD old quant programmer 100K+ all in

30 year old trader 300K+

older, smarter, the more you get.

physics is best - good quantitative logical background.

DorsetDipper said...

flogging a dead horse here ...

the purpose of teaching science isn't just to produce scientists, its to train people to think logically and evaluate evidence, and understand what evidence you may need to further understanding, and how to get it. These skills are in demand in many walks of life, and most of my co-physics students are applying these skills in areas outside physics and earning a lot doing it.

My reservations about the science teaching that my kids are getting is that there's always a temptation to simply teach what scientists have discovered, and not teach how they discovered it.

My 13 year old has been having maths courses at a local uni organised by the education authority. These have been inspirational as she has seen how maths is used creatively to solve real problems, and so is more tolerant of wading through algebraic treacle.

Meanwhile my 11-year old has been going to some Institute of Physics lectures. Again, he really enjoys hearing real scientists and engineers talking about their subject areas.

So there are sources of inspiration available to students that enhance their appreciation of science.