Sunday, June 01, 2008

Brian Greene in the NY Times

The better half and I just returned from vacation this week (contrary to the comment I recently received, the blog break has not been NSF-induced, but rather from an incredible week + vacationing.) I am adjusting to the time and lifestyle change fine, and spent most of the weekend getting back on track (including a few visits to a lab undergoing a bakeout). This morning I ran across this article in the NY Times by Brian Greene (physicist and author of many popular science books.) It starts with a description of a letter he received from a soldier stationed in Iraq, the kind of letter anyone who fancies themselves a writer must be thrilled to receive. He then spends some time discussing the status of science education in the US. As a scientist who is interested in science education, I thought it was worth linking to.

My only beef is that when discussing the issue of science education Green writes:

It’s much the same story in classes for biology, chemistry and mathematics.

You might notice that once again geology and/or earth science is not given a place on the list of important sciences. I am sure Greene has no problem with geology, that is not what I mean, I just think it is sad how often the "important" sciences are listed off with nary a mention of the science that studies the planet we live on. Other than that, the article is worth a read. He makes the point that science education is "unassailably vertical [paraphrased]" and too often focuses on teaching skills and forgets to involve the grand ideas, the things that might inspire students to want to learn the skills. Or as he writes:

Like a music curriculum that requires its students to practice scales while rarely if ever inspiring them by playing the great masterpieces, this way of teaching science squanders the chance to make students sit up in their chairs and say, “Wow, that’s science?”

This is the second time I've blogged about a prominent scientist somehow appearing in the NY Times and forgetting to include geology as an important science. The first time is here, in an article that quotes nobel laureate Leon Lederman.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My better half and I both worked on proposals, so it was like we were on vacation together . . . in hell. Lucky for us that is over . . . until July 1st. Sigh.

Geology never gets credit as a real science, on par with chem, etc. How come we dont have a nobel prize? How many people had a chance to take Earth Science in high school? Why do people keep asking me about pyramids? Oops, sorry that last one was a different pet peeve.