Monday, October 31, 2011

The Importance of Science Education in the U.S.

Few of us would question that science helps us understand the world around us. But in a recent blog for National Public Radio ("Why the U.S. Needs To Learn More Science," October, 19, 2011), Marcelo Gleiser argues that the importance of learning science goes far beyond that: it helps shape our culture and our philosophy. Gleiser cites the shift away from superstition and toward reason, and the changes in the way we view our world and communicate with each other, all thanks to science.

“Science is more than a collection of explanations about the natural world: science is a means to freedom, offering people a way to control their destiny, to choose wisely in what to believe.” Gleiser quotes Gallileo, who insisted, “Think for yourself! Don’t take what people tell you at face value. Do not bow blindly to dogma!”

Gleiser looks to the future as well as nodding to the past, raising issues like genetics in medicine and global warming. “Only a well-informed population is able to make well-informed choices about science and the environment that will shape our future,” he points out. Gleiser recommends a list of scientists who, like himself, view science writing for the purpose of educating the public as part of their mission.  The U.S., he concludes, needs to learn more science.

Photo used under Creative Commons by Liz

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