Is science overrated? Watch

Arran90
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Some time ago I was involved in a discussion and debate with the home education community about secondary school level science and the difficulties in studying it and taking the GCSE in a home education setting. A question was raised as to whether biology, chemistry, and physics are overrated subjects by society. Apart from medicine, and a few other careers that require them, then is it really necessary to study them beyond primary school level complete with practical work and obtain a GCSE in them? The discussion then moved onto alternative science subjects such as computer science, electronics, or astronomy which are available for GCSE and are easier to teach at home than science is, and whether these GCSEs should be accepted by employers and higher education as a science subject instead of science or biology, chemistry, and physics. Other issues debated included things like whether it's really important to do practical work unless you want to or whether watching videos is an acceptable alternative, and that the human body and medical matters is the favoured part of biology with plants not being popular unless kids are interested in them.

Has anybody here managed to succeed in higher education or employment without a science GCSE?
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Moonstruck16
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(Original post by Arran90)
Some time ago I was involved in a discussion and debate with the home education community about secondary school level science and the difficulties in studying it and taking the GCSE in a home education setting. A question was raised as to whether biology, chemistry, and physics are overrated subjects by society. Apart from medicine, and a few other careers that require them, then is it really necessary to study them beyond primary school level complete with practical work and obtain a GCSE in them? The discussion then moved onto alternative science subjects such as computer science, electronics, or astronomy which are available for GCSE and are easier to teach at home than science is, and whether these GCSEs should be accepted by employers and higher education as a science subject instead of science or biology, chemistry, and physics. Other issues debated included things like whether it's really important to do practical work unless you want to or whether watching videos is an acceptable alternative, and that the human body and medical matters is the favoured part of biology with plants not being popular unless kids are interested in them.

Has anybody here managed to succeed in higher education or employment without a science GCSE?
Easier to teach at home? Assuming the student is to sit exams, all you need to do at GCSE is memorise the mark scheme and do past papers. **** understanding what you're learning, GCSEs are all about passing the exam and then ending up on the front of the local newspaper with a buck-toothed grin celebrating your 'intelligence'.

As for practical work, you have no idea how many international students show up at British universities and have no lab etiquette because their education has all been book based. Absolute nightmare to get paired up with.

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nexttime
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Not sure whether the question is 'is science important' or 'should science be important', but the answer is yes to both.

And is lab work important? Yes absolutely. Assessment methods might be a little questionable but the raw skills are absolutely needed for anyone wanting to take their science education to the next level. Experimentation is what science fundamentally is, not the book work.
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PTMalewski
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(Original post by nexttime)
Experimentation is what science fundamentally is, not the book work.
Tell that to theoretical mathematicians.
Experimentation is just a tool to get data for new theoretical ideas and to examine them. You know very well that many correct conclusions were and are done with the book work, before proper experimental techniques become avaible. Gravitational waves for example, were confirmed decades after Einstein had concluded their existence.

(Original post by nexttime)
not the book work.
Books contain data previously collected through experimentation and observation, at current stage of advancement, everything is book based as it would be an absurd to discover everything you need again.
Both theoretical and experimental sciencie have their place and it would be an oversimplification to say that either of them is all or most about science.
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Good bloke
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(Original post by Arran90)
in a home education setting.
This is the key phrase of the OP.

The poster seeks to dilute science education further in order to justify and facilitate home education.

How would computer science prepare anyone for a physics degree? How would astronomy be useful to a potential engineering student?

For that matter, how does home education prepare young people for the worlds of further education, work and social interaction compared to a normal school education?
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nexttime
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(Original post by PTMalewski)
Tell that to theoretical mathematicians.
Experimentation is just a tool to get data for new theoretical ideas and to examine them. You know very well that many correct conclusions were and are done with the book work, before proper experimental techniques become avaible. Gravitational waves for example, were confirmed decades after Einstein had concluded their existence.
Nonsense. Most of the key discoveries that have advanced humanity have been made with very little if any understanding of the theory underlying them. The opposite of what you state is true - theory is useful insofar as it directs experimentation. Experiments then deliver usable results.

Theory for the sake of theory is philosophy, not science.

The books contain data previously collected through experimentation and observation, at current stage of advancement, everything is book based as it would be an absurd to discover everything you need again.
Both theoretical and experimental sciencie have their place and it would be an oversimplification to say that either of them is all or most about science.
Of course education should incorporate both. That is what i was saying - that a pure theory science education would be ridiculous as it misses out the (or, if you want, one of the) most important components.
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_NMcC_
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At GCSE level, yes. The only subject at GCSE that isn't teaching you watered-down material or rote facts is Maths, even then, I was taught parts of it as memorisation rather than understanding. It's because the reasons behind a lot of the scientific facts you learn at GCSE are too complicated and deep for most people at that level. Even at A level, subjects like Chemistry are still heavily simplified.

However, I can't see a better way of doing it myself to be honest. The emphasis on experimentation is probably the best part of secondary level science IMO because the core scientific methodology remains exactly the same no matter how high you go or what field you choose to go into.

Theoretical Physics is a well respected field however most of science (including Physics) relies far more on experimentation and always has done. Experiment, Observation, Explanation is the order in which the vast majority of the world's scientists do it.

Even with today's supercomputers, theoretical/computational chemistry can barely predict the conditions and reagents required for the most simple of organic syntheses. So in Chemistry anyway, I don't think lab work will ever be made obselete.
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PTMalewski
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(Original post by nexttime)
Nonsense. Most of the key discoveries that have advanced humanity have been made with very little if any understanding of the theory underlying them. The opposite of what you state is true - theory is useful insofar as it directs experimentation. Experiments then deliver usable results.
Einstein said once that the science would be in stagnation if was only for usable results.
As science advances, we may expect that more and more discoveries will be made by experiments pre-directed by theory. Most of them are done this way already, most of any modern scientist's knowledge comes from the book work. Nobody has time or brains to re-discover principles of mathematics or physics and go through all the experiments and observations that were done by generations.

(Original post by nexttime)
Theory for the sake of theory is philosophy, not science.
Right, I only meant that theoretical research often leads the way.
Pluto's orbit or existence of gravitational waves were theoretically concluded a very long time before they were observed.


(Original post by Good bloke)
social interaction compared to a normal school education?
Self confidence of the weakest one's is usually knocked out anyway by school violence, so that one doesn't matter much.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Good bloke)
This is the key phrase of the OP.

The poster seeks to dilute science education further in order to justify and facilitate home education.
You are totally wrong. The issues are:

1. Is it really necessary to have to have a GCSE in science (or biology, chemistry, or physics) if you have no intention of studying a science subject in higher education or going into a career that requires knowledge of these sciences?

2. Do employers and higher education accept GCSEs in computer science, electronics, or astronomy as alternatives to science (or biology, chemistry, or physics) if you have no intention of studying a science subject or going into a career that requires knowledge of these sciences?

How would computer science prepare anyone for a physics degree? How would astronomy be useful to a potential engineering student?
Not everybody wants to study these subjects in higher education.

For that matter, how does home education prepare young people for the worlds of further education, work and social interaction compared to a normal school education?
Most of what secondary school teaches has no direct relevance to life in the real world or the majority of employment. It's an abstract academic education.
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Good bloke
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(Original post by Arran90)
Most of what secondary school teaches has no direct relevance to life in the real world or the majority of employment. It's an abstract academic education.
On the contrary, most of what it teaches is outside the classroom, developing skills of interaction with the world around you, and that is enormously relevant to the real world, unless you aspire to be a hermit.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Good bloke)
On the contrary, most of what it teaches is outside the classroom, developing skills of interaction with the world around you, and that is enormously relevant to the real world, unless you aspire to be a hermit.
IMO secondary school creates a youth subculture. I usually found adults to be more interesting than kids of my own age during my secondary school years because they have useful knowledge and experience of life in the real world.

If the real purpose of secondary school is social rather than academic then it means that successive governments have got it all wrong by focusing their attention on the academics, educational standards, and league tables.
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