Author Glenn Murphy writes in the Guardian today:
You see, since the very beginnings of science education and the so-called Public Understanding of Science movement, the whole approach has essentially been an argument to ethos. Never mind what science is, you should learn it because it’s good for you. It’s the educational equivalent of shouting: “Eat your greens!”
Straw man. This hasn’t been the conception of science engagement for years. Perhaps a decade or more.
Instead, why not begin lessons, discussions or curricula with appeals to logos and pathos? Discuss why science is important, don’t just assert that it is – kids are too smart for that. Have them consider why they should bother with science, how their lives can be enriched and improved – what has science ever done for us, and what’s in it for them? And make it personal. Why did you study science? What was in it for you?
This isn’t going well, is it? By which I mean: this isn’t original thinking. However, stick with it, it gets better:
Above all, don’t make it feel like a lesson to be learned. Make it an emotional – yes, emotional – journey of discovery.
Ah. Now this – this is both valid and interesting. Also, the subject of at least one current doctoral thesis (no, not mine. You know who you are, and if you’re reading this, you’ll know that I’ll rant at you for faffing about. Paul).
The article’s worth reading, if only as a useful summary of the sorts of discussions one has with newcomers to the STEM engagement field. It’s rather brazenly a plug/love-in between the author and the Science Museum, the branding of which is plastered all over the author’s books, but so it goes.
Speaking of the Science Museum… actually, that’s another post.