Oh, for a muse of fire…

1 minute read

Science last week had an “Education Forum” feature, written by European education researchers, titled, “Introducing modern science into schools.” The piece describes some ways of bringing new technology into teaching science, from simulations and games to bioinformatics tools. It all seems reasonable, and there are probably some really good ideas there – although our teaching lab at Wisconsin has some bead-based exercises from around 1965 that look an awful lot like the one in the photo accompanying the article.

But what jumped out at me was how totally uninspiring the article’s first sentence makes it all out to be.

Young people in Europe are becoming increasingly disinterested in science at school and are moving away from studying science at university, making it difficult to recruit the engineers and scientists needed to support technology-based economies (1).

I’m thinking of the Star Trek movie, when Bruce Greenwood tries to recruit young Kirk into Starfleet: “Come on, young man, support our technology-based economy! Somehow, that just doesn’t do it for me.

Oh, I know. This is an article in Science, it’s trying to persuade educators and bureaucrats, not students. But dang, can’t they at least go with “making tomorrow’s great discoveries”? Or “exploring new scientific frontiers”? Yes, they’re cliché, but they work. Or at least, they used to. It’s got to be better than “Come, nerds, serve as drones for our M.B.A. overlords.”

UPDATE (2009-09-02): From a reader:

An enduring shame in my life is that I once used "disinterested" when I meant "not interested". Now I see SCIENCE mag is doing it. Yucchh.



Willingale-Theune J, Manaia A, Gebhardt P, De Lorenzi R, Haury M. 2009. Introducting modern science into schools. Science 325:1077-1078. doi:10.1126/science.1171989