WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

A call to arms for change in education

We live in a scientific and technological world…one affected daily by innovations in manufacturing, transportation, medicine, communications…every facet of our lives. In order to survive and thrive in today and tomorrow’s economy one must be scientifically and technologically literate. Scientific and technological literacy is about understanding how technology affects our society and our lives, and is about learning the skills to utilize technology effectively. It is about being better-informed consumers and producers; it is about finding one’s role in the infrastructure that makes our society run; it is about ensuring our economic future.

The consequences of a scientific and technological illiterate population are profound. Governments and corporations can “pull the wool over your eyes”, can obfuscate facts and get away with lies and misrepresentations. Look into any political campaign, and you will find loose facts and catering to the uninformed masses. The media can either be fooled, or can fool us, as to the workings of society, government and the planet. A looming environmental catastrophe can be glossed over a la whispering Jedi knight style: “There is nothing to be seen here, move on”. Statistics can be used and abused in endless ways; the daily news is full of so-called facts that the untrained eye or ear might not pick up. Look into the recent political campaigns in the US and Canada, once the ill managed banks and brokerages broke down everyone scrambled to play messiah…we will bring jobs! It is all about jobs! We will fix the [name your crises here]. Hard not to be cynical.

Without scientifically and technologically knowledgeable citizens, industry and businesses cannot find skilled employees. Without skilled and knowledgeable managers and administrators, companies lose direction or are misdirected. Money is wasted or lost, jobs are lost, and the economy suffers. Innovation goes elsewhere, and the best and the brightest goes where innovation lives. The right talent is not connected with the right career. Opportunities for the young in all destinations disappear; society lacks the means to maintain and grow.

Society has a role to play in preparing young people to be successful scientific and technologically literate citizens. (And yes, it is society, not just education that needs to play the role. If industry and business needs strong workers, then get involved and help teach, provide opportunities for experiential learning.

Through a strong and sustainable technological and scientific education, we can strengthen and build the human infrastructure of our society, and ensure a strong economic future. The old Industrial Age model of education, the well-oiled cookie-cutter stamping machine called public education has to finally go and be replaced by a future-thinking, adaptable, multi-pathway and experiential approach where learning the tools of inquiring science and technology is not optional.


Great grandmother and grandfather

My great grandfather, school headmaster Robert McAlister of Balleyclaire, Northern Ireland. Would he understand the needs of today's student?

We must take the necessary steps to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in a robust, consistent and sustainable technological and scientific education. A bright future for tomorrow’s leaders will be the result of concerted effort to provide a 21st century education that teaches today’s student to be adaptable, to be discerning, to be inquisitive. (Just ask the tigers and dragons of the east what that entails).

At least in America they have a “change they can believe in”, (we here in Canada have another 2-4 years of the same old story). Hopefully soon we will have a President Obama making the Dramatic Difference. Will it happen? Will the west return to historic engineering and heroic science? Will we go to the moon or remain stuck in the sands of the desert?

November 14, 2008 - Posted by | education, future | , , , , , ,

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