Sunday, March 27, 2011

Science Education! Good God Y'all! What Is It Good For!?

Since this month marks the one year anniversary of the Mycelial Network's origins I've been thinking a bit about what this blog's purpose is and actually the purpose of science education in general.

The science blogs that I read tend to fall into two camps, maybe three. There are science blogs that report on and/or describe science findings. There are those that do that but in addition are very political, dealing heavily with topics such as vaccinations, the teaching of evolution, climate change, etc. Then there are blogs that are mainly just about interesting science but don't necessarily shy away from the more political implications of the science.

I've tended to fall mainly in the first category. I don't think science writers shouldn't weigh in on political issues. It's actually more that it frustrates me that these things are political. From my perspective evolution is a real, objectively observed phenomenon, vaccines contain and often completely eliminate disease and climate change is happening and people are directly responsible. I don't really want to get into a "debate" about climate science because in my "opinion" the facts are in and they are very, very clear. I simply don't believe there is a debate worth having.

So I tend to focus my time on trying to show my readers how beautiful, strange, creepy, bizarre, and wonderful the natural world is. This has become a more meaningful and straightforward goal.

But I wonder: what do my readers think? What is the purpose of science education? Is it productivity and progress? Do we need better science education to compete with China?

Is it political? Do we need science education because science is involved in some of the most important political "debates" of the last few decades?

Is it just interesting? Do we need science education because science is wonderful? Does this trivialize it?

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think either as an educator or as someone who enjoys being educated her/himself.

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