Monday, 9 May 2011
'Scienceworks' on the rocks
I took my kids to 'Scienceworks' few weekends ago. It's the kind of thing a father would do with his children but to be honest I was looking forward to it myself. The name implied hands-on science stuff and even though my hairline is receding, I am still a kid at heart. The trip went off without a hitch and the kids had a good time but to be honest, I felt a little disappointed. Somehow the place didn't feel right. One exhibit in particular - about storm water and recycling, left an odd feeling of discomfort. It took a bit of thinking but I eventually worked out why. In the exhibit the smog and rubbish are 'bad' and recycling is 'good'. The 'bad guys' even have suitably scary make-up and voices. This is fine if you are presenting to four-year-olds about toilet etiquette or crossing the road. But these are pre-teens, capable of coming to their own conclusions. And this is science. Science is meant to be about education, not indoctrination. Science is mean to be about understanding the facts, not 'good' and 'bad'. Funny thing is, when I quizzed my seven-year-old son at the end of the day he recalled easily the train display, the historic sewerage pumps but didn't remember a thing about recycling. Herein, I suspect lies the great failure of the education system. Treat children like toddlers and they will forget. Treat them like adults and they will remember.