Reinventing Science Education

In many respects, science education today is similar to medicine during the mid-1800’s, when a new level of scientific rigor confronted long-held beliefs and well-respected traditional medical practices. Likewise, adopting a more scientific approach to science education offers the hope of moving from the educational equivalent of bloodletting to vaccines and antibiotics.

VANCOUVER – Despite the growing importance of science in the modern world, science education remains a remote and minor issue for most people. This is both short-sighted and hazardous. After all, science and technology are not only the primary drivers of growth in the modern economy; they are also increasingly central to many major public policy issues, most notably those surrounding climate change and health care.

To be sure, the need for more and better science education has not been entirely ignored. But little of this attention has been aimed at post-secondary science education, the only level for which there is data showing how to make substantial improvements without enormous costs. Moreover, it is doubtful that great progress can be made at the primary and secondary levels until a higher standard of science learning is set at the post-secondary level.

The conventional view is that there is little problem with post-secondary science education. Scientists and engineers are being produced at rates comparable or higher than in the past, and, while few non-science students find their required science courses enjoyable or useful, that is considered to be inherent to the subject.

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