The creativity in science
Recently I attended a creativity in education workshop. One of the activities involved an instinctive-immediate reaction to some photos. One was a trio of young primary school girls, test-tubes at the ready, engaged in a science experiment. Among my reactions –
- They look like they are really engaged in this science task
- They seemed totally relaxed around each other
- There was no teacher hovering
- The sketches and visuals on the wall in the background
- That they were girls doing science and not boys
All of the above were on my list of my reactions. But my initial reaction was wondering where all that disappeared to. This apparently joyful collaborative experimenting with learning tools that is prominent in primary school has disappeared by the time students get to third level. Where has it disappeared to?
We read every day about falling interest in science among secondary school pupils. Despite much effort by various interest groups to stimulate interest in the sciences, students are turning away from it in droves. There is a perception of science being boring and complex. Where has that come from?
The finger of blame can lie in a number of places. The perception of “nerds” is one. Poor career guidance in schools is another. Parents passing the message that it’s almost a badge of honour to know nothing about science doesn’t help. Perception of poorly-paid jobs following graduation helps even less.
All of the above seem valid. However, a significant element in my opinion concerns education as a whole at second level. The emphasis on grades and leaving cert “points” is enough to kill off any enthusiasm youngsters might with them bring from primary school. How can the love for sheer playful experimentation survive this culture of grades grades grades?
The problem is how on earth can we reverse this grades grades grades emphasis and re-embrace love of experimental learning before it’s too late?