Adults who lack basic science and math skills risk being “bamboozled” and making bad decisions. Teaching math and science to all up to 18 would produce a wiser population. Currently, students have to specialize too young. Forcing them to make subject choices from the age of 14 divides the nation “into sheep and goats, science people and arts people”.
Citizens need to feel empowered to make good decisions in their private lives – be it about vaccinations, mobile phone masts or climate change. In order for this to happen more young people need to be interested in and comfortable with science.The problem starts young, with too few teachers able to teach primary school science or trained as subject specialists at secondary level.
Someone may be mocked if the knowledge about Shakespeare isn’t perfect, but it is still OK to say ‘I could never do math at school.’ Our culture these days always makes it seem as if the scientists are the outsiders.
In most countries, children are not allowed not to study math right up until they leave school. It’s necessary to have a Baccalaureate-type exam to give a broader and less specialist education for post-16s than is currently available.
It’s important to fight gender stereotyping: there are too few women in science. There is a need for change mindsets of teachers and parents alike to ensure that both genders get equal airtime in the classroom.
Because science is so integral in our everyday lives, having an attitude that it’s all nasty, scary and dangerous stuff is enormously unhelpful if not positively dangerous. We all should be working hard to ensure parents are not bamboozled by basic facts. Math and science are vital in everyday life, to run a business or to pick the best mortgage.
Good news for UK students: the new, robust, national curriculum introduced last year includes extra emphasis on math at primary school and will be introducing new science GCSEs next year.
How true do you think this affirmation is?
As a parent or teacher, what do you do to empower numerical knowledge for your kids?
By Ángela R.