Monday, December 3, 2012

Science Education Crisis

Looking around the world today, its easy to see a significant number of science related problems. Climate change, ocean acidification, resource depletion, overpopulation, invasive species and so on, the list is depressingly long. On the positive side though, there are relatively straight forward solutions to a lot of these problems. Straight forward doesn't mean simple to implement through. For example, renewable energy has potential to easily offset burning of fossil fuels and therefore providing solutions to climate change, ocean acidification and resource depletion. Implementation of renewable energy though very plausible, will take a lot of work and changing of peoples mindsets. Probably the largest hurdle in this is simply education of the general public. I have worked in science education and biological research for about a decade now and have seen huge discrepancies between the two. Researchers with all their vast knowledge of extremely important scientific information that has the potential to help humanity simply don't communicate their concepts well to the masses. Scientists also have isolated themselves from the masses with the general belief that most people just can't understand science. The average high school or even college biology 101 textbook doesn't really paint the big picture for students to learn, but instead focuses on overly compartmentalized concepts. The average high school biology teacher's knowledge of the subject also seems quite limited to these overly compartmentalized concepts. As a result, the masses really don't get what is going on with subjects pertaining to science. I personally am of the belief that even though science is hard to understand, the average person is able to understand at least some of the more complex concepts. Students must be taught by teachers who know the concepts in the first place, and in a way that connects students to the bigger picture. Regardless of what anyone says, science is extremely interesting and people who say science is boring simply have a poor science education. Science is so diverse it can literally engage every field of interest possible, there is absolutely no room for boring with this great diversity. I'm not saying everyone should become scientists, I am simply saying that science should engage everyone in whatever profession they choose. Currently, science is highly compartmentalized in our society with the educationally elite. This should not be so and is highly damaging to our society. The educationally elite scientist is absolutely necessary to science but I would suggest needs to greatly improve communication of their research with the masses. Improving scientific communication and education with the average non-scientist is the goal of the Practical Biology blog. Hopefully I have begun to do this. I feel there is a lot more that can be done and a lot more depth that can be given to non-scientists, or even scientists, through this blog. Knowledge is power and scientific knowledge has potential to greatly benefit individuals as well as society.

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