Science is an interest too
There seems to be a strange stigma surrounding science. For many, it seems “science” is a word synonymous with “school”. Yet they are practically unrelated concepts. Science is a field of interest. Some of us are interested in computers, some of us in books, or music, or fashion, or sport, I mean, hell, some of us are interested in sex. Likewise, some of us are interested in science.
Unfortunately, the science and mathematics education systems place too much emphasis on swallowing content and not enough on interaction, discovering and playing. The few who have the insight to see past the classroom whiteboard, into a world of discovery and excitement, are known not as people interested in science or mathematics, but as people with no life. If this is the attitude that society pays to its future, then it is in dire need of help.
An interest towards science or mathematics (or both) does not imply a lack of interest to the rest of life. Like most people, the interested in science have multiple interests and hobbies. Unfortunately, in a largely conformist world, we are too often too afraid to openly engage in a field of interest that is largely prejudiced. But the teaching of science at schools should not limit it therein. The fascinated who are willing to pursue their interests will not be let down; in fact, quite the contrary. Just as those who follow politics, professional sport teams and anything in general find a wealth of information online, science and mathematics provide the same.
It is, in essence, no different to any other interest. We read novels or engage in music or sport during the holidays; why is science different? If the argument is that it’s related to school, then I have to protest by pointing out that novels and films are related to school, and music and sport are for people that take those courses. If the argument is that it’s impossible to enjoy doing anything with science, then I have to question whether the open-mindedness and tolerance that’s meant to be prevalent in our society really exists at all. If the argument is that you don’t meet people by playing with science, then I again point out that you don’t meet people by reading novels or listening to music or playing a solo instrument either, and this seems a timely point to mention that from tomorrow, I will be attending a science and technology forum where I’ll get to meet 150 other high school-aged people.
I get mixed reactions when I mention to people that I’m going to a science forum (but not as mixed as those I got when I went to maths camp last year). But such reactions are not the case with sport development camps, phone support camps, sex support camps or scouting camps. All of these camps are equally demanding, equally specialised and equally interesting to their followers (though science camp will involve a volleyball tournament and general fun activities, and maths camp did involve ten-pin bowling and soccer). And nonetheless, science and maths seem to draw the more cynical responses.
Science and mathematics are essentially a fascination with the way things work. Like all fascinations, they should be free to be pursued by anyone in the spirit of interest. It is time to stop viewing science and mathematics as mere school subjects. It is time to place them on a par with everything else that holds intrigue for groups of people. Let us realise that, ultimately, science and mathematics are an interests too.