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author Dylan Holmes <>
date Thu, 27 Oct 2011 22:38:23 -0500
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1 #+title: Science Minus Science
2 #+author: Dylan Holmes
3 #+email:
4 #+description: What's wrong with our current Science Education?
5 #+SETUPFILE: ../../aurellem/org/
6 #+INCLUDE: ../../aurellem/org/
9 Today's science classrooms are remarkably
10 unscientific. According to prevailing wisdom, it is less important to teach
11 the empirical mindset than to impart our accumulated scientific
12 knowledge. Thus, because the field is so vast nowadays, teachers are
13 obliged to be frugal with the facts: they must prune tangential
14 subjects and pare whatever's left, watering down complicated results
15 into simplified half-truths. Needs must when the devil drives, of
16 course--but what is the end result?
18 In modern science classrooms, students must swallow a
19 deluge of unfamiliar scientific dogma in time to
20 regurgitate it onto an exam. To accomplish this daunting task, they
21 cannot possibly stop to consider various alternatives which scientists
22 have methodically eliminated over the course of centuries; instead,
23 they must simply trust that science has done what it purports to have
24 done--or, faster, simply stamp out their own conjectural, critical
25 instincts.
27 By the end of such a course, students might be able to recite the
28 tenets of our current scientific creed and might employ those tenets
29 when answering carefully formulated questions. But even if, by chance,
30 our students get their facts straight, they will have acquired at most
31 only our pre-processed truths, and nothing of the empirical machinery
32 that produced them.
34 In my opinion, such a lackluster result demands
35 that we re-evaluate our priorities. Surely the essential mark of the
36 scientist is not her ability to recount the latest model of reality,
37 but rather her pervasive inquiry and her methodical, empirical
38 approach to obtaining answers? Instead of canonizing the latest
39 theories, shouldn't we be stimulating a zeal for scrutinizing the
40 them?
42 #Surely the shibboleth of the
43 #scientist is not his ability to recount the bleeding-edge depiction of
44 #reality--after all, theories are transient and revolutions expected--but
45 #rather his pervasive inquiries about the world and his methodical,
46 #empirical approach to answering them? Indeed, don't we recognize the
47 #scientist by his lack of allegiance to the status quo, by the way he
48 #scrutinizes even his own theories with utmost irreverence?
50 In valuing data absorption over methodical reason, we give our
51 students a fragmentary and moreover inexplicable impression of
52 reality. We must ask ourselves: how much of science is left in that?