Monday, December 10, 2007

F in Science, A in Self-Esteem

Couple this assessment with the Chronicle of Higher Education's recent story on the lack of academic jobs for scientists (there has been a recommendation for some time to limit the number of graduate students going into science programs). Schools have so far refused to do this.

Back in the early 1980's when there was a similar glut of scientists, the new industry of biotechnology absorbed their numbers (and thereby creating the current biotech industry vs. academia social war). And now the biotech industry is not doing very well, in fact, it hasn't done well since the beginning, constantly growing and shrinking, hiring and firing in a roller coaster ride way that most people find untenable after a while (which is why there are so many MBAs out there with science degrees).

I grew up in the 1960s when the Space Race sparked an intense math and science resurgence in American public schools. What in the heck is happening now? Now, science teachers in K-12 have to fight pseudoscience in the classroom, illegally introduced by well-meaning but happily ignorant educational boards. With so many teachers trying to keep religion out of their science classrooms, is it a wonder that American kids aren't doing well in science?
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American 15-year-olds go up against teens from around the world.

December 10, 2007

We could focus on the latest worrisome news in education: the results of an international test released last week that show American 15-year-olds don't know much about science and are falling behind their peers in other industrialized nations. But why get depressed?

There is an aluminum foil lining: The test also found that our teens don't let their ignorance bother them. They may not know as much as students in Finland, Canada or New Zealand, but they think they do. When asked to rate their own scientific abilities, they put themselves at the top with their better-educated peers.

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