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← We can't hide in our labs and leave the talking to Dawkins

Chris Davis's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Chris Davis

All the enthusiasm in these comments for whizz-bang science teaching sits uneasily with a lecture some years back by Prof D. in which he deplored the (still) current trend for trying to make science sexy and exciting - risking disappointment when the acolyte discovers how bloody HARD it actually is.

I especially remember RD reading, in withering tones, a specific quote from an official guideline on science teaching, in which the educator was encourage to make the experimental material suitable to be eaten after the experiment/demo.

At first, my reaction was 'ah, c'mon, you don't want to scare 'em away!'. But then I thought about it, and once again I think the Doc's right: for actual nascent scientists, science is already exciting. A tool that homes in on Truth is intrinsically exciting to some people, and good Fact needs no whizz-bangs.

Jazzing up Science Ed in the hope of seducing students whose natural bent is showbiz or warfare is really just wasting their time. They're not going to like the massive tedium involved in finding that elusive Fact, no matter how startling.

But this is not to say that science itself shouldn't continue to be pushed to the public for the breakthroughs and wonders it produces. It deserves more respect and awe than it has in some circles. Just don't give people the false impression that lab or field work is like The Sorcerer's Apprentice. It's about hard, diligent, boring graft a lot of the time.

Tue, 25 Nov 2008 02:16:00 UTC | #276467