Education Letter: Mad science
Thursday 25 March 1999
I have been teaching biology for 30 years to 13- to 18-year-olds and watched the great educational opportunities of the 1980s become sullied by the Thatcherite demands of "science-as-utility".
We now have adolescents who are obliged to understand the principles of genetic engineering while their understanding of even basic Mendelian genetics is extremely limited, and, at a time when the countryside is being rapidly depleted of fauna and flora, we have next to nothing in the GCSE syllabus (or examination) on plant and animal identification - school natural history is a rather quaint thing of the past.
We have 16-year-olds who are obliged to grasp the nature of scientific methodology, yet anyone who knows anything about the matter knows that what makes good scientists is, above all, time to pursue their own imaginative thoughts about what's inside things and what makes them work. We don't look inside animals at school; nor do we usually have the time to encourage the imaginative experimentation which issues from the minds of the people we teach. Rather, we bulldoze in some half-baked theory of how the government thinks scientists think and operate. Most 16-year-olds aren't up to appreciating scientific methodology. They can't recognise the controls needed for good work, and neither could I at their age. And there's every indication that government ministers can't now. Come on, syllabus-setters: get a life!
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...
£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...
£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...