Schools, Science, and Faith in the Future

Posted by: Michael Mandel on June 22

Here’s some thoughts by David Brin about why fewer American kids are going into the sciences these days—and why it’s not the fault of the schools.

Mind you, I DO have plenty of complaints against modern education, (complaints learned the hard way, with three kids in public school!) But given the “culture war” against the Enlightenment and all of its fruits, and the hatred of science expressed by radicals of both left and right, is it any wonder that young people are drifting away from such fields, even more quickly than servicemen and women are departing the armed forces?

And

Left and right are in this together. Extremists on both sides have made it clear that science is the real enemy, along with the concomitant general attitudes of even-tempered criticism and acceptance of contingent truth that underlay the entire Enlightenment.

I would add that the economics profession, by and large, would prefer to downplay technology as well as a source of growth, preferring to focus on budget deficits and savings instead.

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Reader Comments

Robert Cope

June 23, 2005 05:14 AM

lets see if I understand the above referenced far left does not see need for science, 1st lets just imagine what 45billion dollars wasted on failed drug war would do to the average mind in todays world, slow down ,oh no sports is a fast game, well anyway children seperated from parents, ugly concept,mistreated senior citizens,judgemental society,failed international relations , mounting did I yes mounting mounds of rubbish trash discarded refuse kind of like people,polluted , is materialism our saviour mac mansions I want I want , ok heres to science , wait we need a stars wars program ok.status quo ,what about population control not mind control, what good does it do to enslave children to public education if the powers that be are spinless cowards because they belive drugs are the great evil.unless you need to sell some weapons to sume insurgents somewhere or-destablize a country or two hundred now and then, for profit .

Jack Krupansky

June 23, 2005 12:29 PM

Why not look to free and open markets to address any shortage of young scientists?

Let the government agencies and businesses and ultra-wealthy inidividuals (Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Larry Ellison, Ted Turner, et al) that have a need for and interest in scientific talent offer larger scholarships, better summer internships, enticing work-study programs, etc.

And if none of these guys wish to "step up to the plate" and *fund* deeper incentives for scientific study, then let's recognize an economic signal for what it is: a signal that maybe there is *not* a shortage relative to true demand.

Maybe we simply need to step aside and let China and India take up the reins of scientific leadership.

I was certainly into science when I was growing up and focused on computer science in college, but if I knew then what a dead-end computer science would be for me, I would have given more thought to the dull stuff like law, accounting, and finance or even economics that are now a lot more interesting and promising as careers than science.

My view is that the fewer young Americans who go into science, the better. This will assure that they are on the "right" side of the supply/demand curve, and it will open up opportunities for another "brain drain" to bring yet another influx of talented foreigners into the U.S. Hint: this is another brick in the wall towards helping to solve the long-term Social Security fiscal problem.

In the final analysis, science should be a calling, not simply a job or career.

-- Jack Krupansky

Michael Mandel

June 24, 2005 05:02 PM

Jack

My underlying point is less about how many students go into math and science, and more about the overall societal attitude towards technological innovation. If we don't want progress, we won't get it.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.

 

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Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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