15 July 2009

Interest and inferiority

A short but insightful point about science education from the I Was Lost But Now I Live Here blog:
(T)he reasons people claim to be uninterested in science fall into two categories: problems of interest (”it’s boring”, “it’s irrelevant”, “it’s hard”, etc), and problems of inferiority (“I’m not smart enough”, “it’s not for someone like me”, “it doesn’t match what I believe”, etc). If you can frame the problem correctly, you can form a better solution. For example, if the problem is that it requires too much sustained concentration (i.e. “it’s hard”), then present the science in shorter snippets. If the problem is that the audience feels intellectually inferior, then reassure them that the material isn’t supposed to easy. I think the most important ideas we can convey to non-scientists are that science is about solving mysteries, failure is part of the process, and science is intrinsically a human endeavor. In fact, I started thinking that instead of tricking people into liking science, we should get more people to like the scientists themselves.

1 comment:

Joe Barfield said...

I am a firm believer in bumper sticker behavior modification. Imagine the waves of love if we could get "Have you hugged a scientist today?" bumperstickers on the back of 10,000 cars. Results!