Wonder in Science (why do we hide it?)

Yes, yes, yes, yes!

Just read this online article from Simon Jenkins in the Guardian

I devour popular science, finding its history and its wonder a constant delight. . . . It is a mystery how so many science teachers can be so bad at their jobs that most children of my acquaintance cannot wait to get shot of the subject. I am tempted to conclude that maths and science teachers want only clones of themselves, like monks in a Roman Catholic seminary.

I couldn’t agree more. It is a sense of wonder in the world around me that has drawn me into science, and yet wonder is the one thing that is sorely lacking from all text-books and school syllabii. And we as teachers are doing absolutely nothing about it. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Listen to all the big-wigs tell us why we need more students doing science – it’s the economy, stupid. Yet ask any kid why they are fascinated with science and the economy is not likely to come top of their list of reasons. It’s that word again – wonder. So why are we afraid to tackle it at school level? And why does nobody talk about it?

Heaven preserve us from engineers, university professors and politicians getting their grubby mitts on another science syllabus. Not unless they can first demonstrate a proven track recond on rating wonder as highly as a kid does. Not that we teachers have much to boast about in that regard either. It’s as though we try to hide our sense of wonder because somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate. Is it because we teachers like to give the impression that we have all the answers and therefore there should be nothing to fill us with wonder. I honestly don’t know. And I’m not even sure what I can do about it.

But I guess a good aul’ rant wouldn’t be a bad place to start. 

Feynman, in this regard as in so many others, remains an inspiration.



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