... and we teach it wrong. That's the conclusion of a NYT op ed, titled 'why science majors change their minds (it's just so darn hard)'. Aimee Stem (here at Science2.0) argues that it's in part a diversity issue, that we're focusing our effort on the wrong age group. I'd argue that the core is how we teach.
Make no mistake, science is hard. So is finance, and come to think of it, history wasn't a cake-walk either. English majors have to read and write copious amounts of text. Law school difficulty was made famous in 'the Paper Chase'. Put simply, any well-executed major is and should be hard.
I agree with the article that discusses the perils of 400-student lectures, the grind of Junior/Sophomore year physics theory, and the difficulty in connecting academic learning to real-world problems. We need more simulation, problem solving, and experimentation over rote lecture-and-scribe techniques.
However, I find the article rather... stale. Issues with college as it stands today seem to be mired in the way the current crop of op Ed writers learned. College today is different. A huge number of students are taking different approaches.
Students are doing college part-time while working. They're taking community college courses before finishing up at a traditional college. They're doing the 5-year plan as they balance out life and school. And, in some cases, they're being smart consumers and intentionally going for the majors where they don't have to sit in 400+ lecture halls.
How do you fix science education at the college and university level? Apparently, economic forces and student/customer choices are providing some of the fixes the institutions fail to recognize. People don't finish a major because it's hard, only because it might be poorly taught, and the system corrects itself, slowly.
The real lesson these days is to not accept a college at face value, but look at what you can get out of it.
teaching physics these days, and still writing at Science2.0
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- How Did Mexico Eliminate Breast Cancer Deaths?
- New Results From The LHC At 13 TeV!
- Half Of Biomedical Studies Aren't Reproducible – And What We Need To Do About That
- No other way
- The Science Behind Distillation
- We Could Find Aliens Any Day Now, SETI Scientists Say
- High Z: Metal Foams Shield X-rays, Gamma Rays And Neutron Radiation
- "This cat (top picture) used to roam our neighbourhood, visiting our garden regularly over about..."
- "Nice! But please don't call Lise Meitner the mother of the atom bomb - she always hated that phrase..."
- "Question: Are there 2 data points missing in the mT plot? and surely the high mT 'excess' has got..."
- "I think Omoo is a fine word. But Pluto may not like it regardless, because 2% of astronomers may..."
- "Not cool Tommaso. :) I take that means the excess disappeared at 13 tev. ..."
Books By Writers Here