#1
So at schools and Universities throughout the UK, humanities courses like history, politics etc. are full up, healthy class sizes and hundreds of people in degree courses, meaning the UK will have loads of history graduates.

Meanwhile in A level science, classrooms are deserted. There's not many home students doing science and engineering degree courses as many people opt for the more "softer" humanities subjects.

If the UK is to have a thriving economy more like Germany's moving into a future of high tech industry and science, I think we have to invest in science more, but it's hard with most people going off to uni to do history degrees and stuff because it's often seen as a softer option, so many people like "oh I can't do Maths" "I hate science" "science is so hard/boring".

My friend, doing an international relations degree says "NO" to more subsidies, because it's "kind of absurd that you guys should pay less when your degree actually costs the university more money.."

How should governments get more people to do science and engineering? Make degree courses cheaper? Somehow make the subject easier? Get kids into science much earlier?

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#2
Quote by EndTheRapture51
How should governments get more people to do science and engineering?

Spend more money on public education. Get better math teachers to young kids.

Quote by EndTheRapture51
Make degree courses cheaper?

If there are so many people going into history, the subject is the problem, not the price. But yes, making the courses cheaper would help.

Quote by EndTheRapture51
Somehow make the subject easier?

Oh GOD no.

Quote by EndTheRapture51
Get kids into science much earlier?

Spend more money on public education. Get better science teachers to young kids.
#3
Quote by CoreysMonster


If there are so many people going into history, the subject is the problem, not the price. But yes, making the courses cheaper would help.


A lot of people don't like the idea of long hours in the lab, lots of lectures and exams when they could be at home drinking, reading a history book and typing out an essay with 1 hour of lectures a week.

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#4
Then those aren't the people who would belong in sciences anyways.

If there aren't enough older kids interested in science, it's probably because they weren't shown how it can be interesting at a young age. I'm not a psychologist or anything, but all the things I was interested in as a kid, I still am today. I've gained a couple of more along the way, but I think that if you implant that spark of interest into more younger kids, you'll get more older kids with that same interest.

That being said, I tried out engineering for a while, and the course wasn't for me, despite my interest in the subject. I'm a more practical person, I like to see the direct results of my labor. History couldn't be for me, either. What I do now isn't exactly hard science, but it's based in the interest of computers and art that I had as a kid, that stuck with me throughout my life.

/2cents
#6
No, to hell with subsidies. Bank loans and family favours are the best way to finance that neverending trip to university. It will be better for the economy.

Giant can of sarcasm
#7
I think it's bullshit that the humanities are easier than the sciences in University. I've done both, they are different, but not that different in difficulty. You have fewer lectures in History, but I know plenty of science students who would fail out of it fairly quickly if they had to do the amount of independent reading that History students do (or try to write a whole essay in English without graphs and equations ) It is also far harder to get an A in humanities.


A large part of the problem is that people are doing History and other humanities subjects because they are interesting. Humans respond to stories, we are good at reasoning on a social level because that's what our brains are built for. We see the uses of the Arts all around us in an obvious way, they are promoted in culture constantly. They are intrinsically interesting and appealing. They are identifiable.

I'm training to become a Science Educator, and a big part of my aim would be to couch science in a context that allows it to be relevant to students. We present science and engineering as collections of facts, handed down from on high to be accepted and learned by heart. We do not present to students the wonderful and fascinating process and story of discovery, the context of ideas and how they shaped the world. We do not give them direct contact with genius, we do not promote questioning or concede to uncertainty.

I don't really see why students, if their only exposure to science was from school, would give even the smallest of ****s about it. History has Julius Caesar and explosions, Science has a bunch of facts to learn and a small "bio" box about Darwin. Even experiments in science class are conducted with such stifling certainty that they can make cutting open an animal's heart or extracting DNA and twirling it round a stick seem like being forced to roll a bolder up a hill for no reason.


Sagan, as usual, said it best (actually, I think he might be quoting someone else here but no matter):

"as a matter of learning principles and applying them by routine procedures. It is learned from textbooks, not by reading the works of great scientists or even the day-to-day contributions to the scientific literature … The beginning scientist, unlike the beginning humanist, does not have an immediate contact with genius. Indeed … school courses can attract quite the wrong sort of person into science — unimaginative boys and girls who like routine."
Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World
"Why should we subsidise intellectual curiosity?"
-Ronald Reagan

"Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
-George Washington
#10
Yes, i think science and engineering courses should be subsidised and every oppurtunity should be taken to get people to study those things. I have felt guilty and regretful (though not for too long) for taking a humanities subject rather than an "industrial" one, but I really don't have the abilities in science subjects despite a certain level of interest in them.

I don't know if your description of class sizes is the same as my experience. In my 6th form there were two or three classes of 30 students doing sciences/maths and less than ten students in the humanities classes with the exception of English Language.
CuSO4

"I don't have an instrument, I don't have a great voice, I just have some nice clothes maybe." paul rutherford
Last edited by Hereiwas at Aug 15, 2013,
#11
My friend just called me right wing for thinking that Science should be subsidised

Quote by Ur all $h1t
I think it's bullshit that the humanities are easier than the sciences in University. I've done both, they are different, but not that different in difficulty. You have fewer lectures in History, but I know plenty of science students who would fail out of it fairly quickly if they had to do the amount of independent reading that History students do (or try to write a whole essay in English without graphs and equations ) It is also far harder to get an A in humanities.


Humanities aren't easier. I did better in my science A levels than my history one, but I think that's also wrong, science dissertations are really long reports requiring similiar skills as humanity - ie. inferring causation and a hypothesis from a set of results. It's just it's a lot more rigid. In my last year of chemistry degree I've had to write a 2000 word essay on group dynamics and a 4000 word literature review about the hydrogen economy, so it's not like we don't write essays.


A large part of the problem is that people are doing History and other humanities subjects because they are interesting. Humans respond to stories, we are good at reasoning on a social level because that's what our brains are built for. We see the uses of the Arts all around us in an obvious way, they are promoted in culture constantly. They are intrinsically interesting and appealing. They are identifiable

I'm training to become a Science Educator, and a big part of my aim would be to couch science in a context that allows it to be relevant to students. We present science and engineering as collections of facts, handed down from on high to be accepted and learned by heart. We do not present to students the wonderful and fascinating process and story of discovery, the context of ideas and how they shaped the world. We do not give them direct contact with genius, we do not promote questioning or concede to uncertainty.

I don't really see why students, if their only exposure to science was from school, would give even the smallest of ****s about it. History has Julius Caesar and explosions, Science has a bunch of facts to learn and a small "bio" box about Darwin. Even experiments in science class are conducted with such stifling certainty that they can make cutting open an animal's heart or extracting DNA and twirling it round a stick seem like being forced to roll a bolder up a hill for no reason.


Agreed with this. Could the solution be to focus on the characters behind the science as much as the theories themselves?

However you do need a lot of facts and knowledge to even understand the science and science courses are crowded enough with theories and problems and equations as it is already without time to focus on the life of Boltzmann or Helmholtz' love life.

It does generally seem the majority of science students I know are really passionate about the subject, but a lot of history students are just doing their degree because they "like" history and needed to do a degree.

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#12
Yeah, I think that is what I worry about in terms of doing English and Film. Like, what are my motivations? But i don't think the subject is pointless and I don't think that talking down on the humanities/arts is neccessary, or that there needs to be a rift between science and humanities.

I've always thought that the UK's education system would benefit from having less segregation and distinction between each subject. I always thought it was weird, for example, when people would talk about PE with a certain amount of suspicion saying it was "basically biology" as if the two couldn't really be compatible.
Quote by EndTheRapture51
My friend just called me right wing for thinking that Science should be subsidised

the one studying international relations? :/
CuSO4

"I don't have an instrument, I don't have a great voice, I just have some nice clothes maybe." paul rutherford
Last edited by Hereiwas at Aug 15, 2013,
#13
Interesting problem you have over there. How are the jobs for people with science degrees? Is history an in demand thing?

The US may have too many scientists. I just completed a science degree (biology) in college. It's not helping me find a job. Apparently, in biology (I only know this from a molecular or microbiology viewpoint) they have this thing where you need to be experienced in the job market to get the entry level positions. So, in order to be a beginner near where I live, you need to be above the status of beginner. Fun stuff.

I also know nothing about your post grad degrees. How many people end up with a Master's or Ph.D (or equivalent) overall? Maybe a lot of people don't feel the need to sit through the labs and classes to end up with a degree that won't help them in their job hunt (like I said earlier, I don't know how science positions are in the UK, so I apologize if this has an obvious answer). Or, the fact that they will most likely go back for the Master's/Ph.D in order to make more money/end up in a position they want might be persuading them to choose a different major.
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#14
Quote by Ticket48
Interesting problem you have over there. How are the jobs for people with science degrees? Is history an in demand thing?

The US may have too many scientists. I just completed a science degree (biology) in college. It's not helping me find a job. Apparently, in biology (I only know this from a molecular or microbiology viewpoint) they have this thing where you need to be experienced in the job market to get the entry level positions. So, in order to be a beginner near where I live, you need to be above the status of beginner. Fun stuff.

I also know nothing about your post grad degrees. How many people end up with a Master's or Ph.D (or equivalent) overall? Maybe a lot of people don't feel the need to sit through the labs and classes to end up with a degree that won't help them in their job hunt (like I said earlier, I don't know how science positions are in the UK, so I apologize if this has an obvious answer). Or, the fact that they will most likely go back for the Master's/Ph.D in order to make more money/end up in a position they want might be persuading them to choose a different major.

In the Netherlands it is normal that you do a Master no matter what your subject. Almost no one does a Ph.D though.

Science degrees do well here, psychology shit, history students end up working for vodafone etc.
Quote by Carmel
I can't believe you are whoring yourself out like that.

ಠ_ಠ
#15
Quote by Hereiwas

the one studying international relations? :/


No this one studies straight History.

He was saying his degree did definitely not cost £9,000 to run, and it's unfair that science students get more contact hours, use of lab equipment, free textbooks etc. for the same price as his so there shouldn't be any more subsidies for sciences because they're already getting too much for the price, then he called me right wing because humanities are getting victimised because "treating people differently because of their preference is right wing."

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#16
Oh well he is silly.
I think there should be more subsidies across the board, of course, and I don't think the £9,000 fees are reasonable if the objective is to get more people to study any subject. But getting people to study science and engineering subjects, especially if they're linked to progressive technologies like renewable energies and other utopian stuff which improves lives in a concrete way is obviously important. Probably more important than making sure the UK can lead a new dramatic movement or something.
CuSO4

"I don't have an instrument, I don't have a great voice, I just have some nice clothes maybe." paul rutherford
Last edited by Hereiwas at Aug 15, 2013,
#17
Quote by EndTheRapture51
My friend just called me right wing for thinking that Science should be subsidised


Humanities aren't easier. I did better in my science A levels than my history one, but I think that's also wrong, science dissertations are really long reports requiring similiar skills as humanity - ie. inferring causation and a hypothesis from a set of results. It's just it's a lot more rigid. In my last year of chemistry degree I've had to write a 2000 word essay on group dynamics and a 4000 word literature review about the hydrogen economy, so it's not like we don't write essays.
.


In a typical humanities course after first year most essays will be at least 2,500 words, and most courses will have at least one as part of assessment. Assessments themselves, if they are exams, will involve writing pages upon pages of stuff on the fly. I know science students write essays, just not as much.

I reckon if humanities is softer, it's in that it's harder to fail, but it's also harder to excel. Because Science exams are much more black and white they tend to have higher failure but it's also far more possible to score highly.


Agreed with this. Could the solution be to focus on the characters behind the science as much as the theories themselves?

However you do need a lot of facts and knowledge to even understand the science and science courses are crowded enough with theories and problems and equations as it is already without time to focus on the life of Boltzmann or Helmholtz' love life.


Not just the characters, although adding some human element can kindle a fire of interest or just hold attention. Just the process of discovery, you can talk about DNA without ever discussing Watson, Crick, Franklin or Pauling; however if you present the information while discussing how it was discovered, including the missteps made by a brilliant a man as Pauling, you not only offer a more interesting narrative, you also demystifiy DNA as this "thing that just exists and that's that". More importantly though, you give students an insight into how new phenomena are discovered, how evidence and theory interact, and how the work of science is conducted. Science is a subject where it's very important to hold back the curtain and reveal how the sausage is made.

You can discuss elements and the periodic table by just explaining from the textbook what Atomic Number means. You can even do the current thing of mentioning Mendeleev's awesome biography and then talk about the periodic table. Or, you can talk about both, stringing the narrative through the context of the time, the ideas that were hanging in the air, the disputes between different versions of the table, the reasons that the current one prevailed and how (and most importantly why) we have improved it since.

Science as a process, rather than a subject, is profoundly interesting and important. If we ignore the equations we do a profound disservice to students, but it's not either or, we should be teaching them how to do science but also why. The great thing is that those two questions are interlocking, and it's only this false idea of "the two cultures" that makes us separate them.

It does generally seem the majority of science students I know are really passionate about the subject, but a lot of history students are just doing their degree because they "like" history and needed to do a degree

I've seen both to be honest. Perhaps it's because over here it's harder to get into History than science.
"Why should we subsidise intellectual curiosity?"
-Ronald Reagan

"Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
-George Washington
#18
Quote by Hereiwas
Oh well he is silly.
I think there should be more subsidies across the board, of course, and I don't think the £9,000 fees are reasonable if the objective is to get more people to study any subject. But getting people to study science and engineering subjects, especially if they're linked to progressive technologies like renewable energies and other utopian stuff which improves lives in a concrete way is obviously important. Probably more important than making sure the UK can lead a new dramatic movement or something.


Yeah I always try to remind my friends of this. The laptop they use, the phones they use, cars, drugs, vaccinations, etc. are all derived from science and engineering and they still don't think that more people should be encouraged to study science.

And I don't get them, they're all progressive liberal types but it's like they don't want humanity to progress or just don't realise that groundbreaking, life changing discoveries come from academic and private science institutions, and just think that I, as a science student, am being selfish and anti-humanities.

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#19
That does seem weird. I hope I don't find that to be the case when I get to university.

It seems to me that people who are planning to go to univeristy and have taken science subjects at A Level will then take them at university. It's more the case that people who don't plan to go to university are completely shut off from the option by not taking A Levels and there are probably lots of science applicants lost because of that. Subsidising education in general for people who don't think they'll be able to get in otherwise seems like the only option.

editi swear i've forgotten how to write this summer.)
CuSO4

"I don't have an instrument, I don't have a great voice, I just have some nice clothes maybe." paul rutherford
Last edited by Hereiwas at Aug 15, 2013,
#21
Quote by Ur all $h1t
In a typical humanities course after first year most essays will be at least 2,500 words, and most courses will have at least one as part of assessment. Assessments themselves, if they are exams, will involve writing pages upon pages of stuff on the fly. I know science students write essays, just not as much.


In my first year of Uni I was churning out 2 lab reports a week like clockwork, all formatted, with sections of prose and analysis as well as results tables etc. so it's definitely not skimped out. In the third year I'm producing every other week 16 page reports.

I reckon if humanities is softer, it's in that it's harder to fail, but it's also harder to excel. Because Science exams are much more black and white they tend to have higher failure but it's also far more possible to score highly.


Agreed


Not just the characters, although adding some human element can kindle a fire of interest or just hold attention. Just the process of discovery, you can talk about DNA without ever discussing Watson, Crick, Franklin or Pauling; however if you present the information while discussing how it was discovered, including the missteps made by a brilliant a man as Pauling, you not only offer a more interesting narrative, you also demystifiy DNA as this "thing that just exists and that's that". More importantly though, you give students an insight into how new phenomena are discovered, how evidence and theory interact, and how the work of science is conducted. Science is a subject where it's very important to hold back the curtain and reveal how the sausage is made.

You can discuss elements and the periodic table by just explaining from the textbook what Atomic Number means. You can even do the current thing of mentioning Mendeleev's awesome biography and then talk about the periodic table. Or, you can talk about both, stringing the narrative through the context of the time, the ideas that were hanging in the air, the disputes between different versions of the table, the reasons that the current one prevailed and how (and most importantly why) we have improved it since.

Science as a process, rather than a subject, is profoundly interesting and important. If we ignore the equations we do a profound disservice to students, but it's not either or, we should be teaching them how to do science but also why. The great thing is that those two questions are interlocking, and it's only this false idea of "the two cultures" that makes us separate them.


So do you think maybe we should set projects in school to maybe mimic big scientific discoveries as work? Give students experiments to do etc. whilst mirroring it with teaching of the actual pioneers of the subject and what they did? Taking DNA discovery as an example and maybe doing stuff like isolating elements?

I've seen both to be honest. Perhaps it's because over here it's harder to get into History than science.


Its easier to get into science over here if you miss your grades because of the sheer lack of people doing courses.

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#22
Quote by EndTheRapture51
So do you think maybe we should set projects in school to maybe mimic big scientific discoveries as work? Give students experiments to do etc. whilst mirroring it with teaching of the actual pioneers of the subject and what they did? Taking DNA discovery as an example and maybe doing stuff like isolating elements?
Not mimicry, that's often impossible and somewhat pointless. However, discovering stuff anew for themselves can be hugely influential in curating interest and deep understanding.

It's super hard to do though and takes skilled teachers.

One example I like that illuminates the concept well is teaching about Pi. Instead of saying "Pi is 3.14, this is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, learn it off" you can get students to go around and measure the circumference and diameter of circles of various sizes. Then you collate the data as a group and let the students break into groups to find the pattern. Let them use their own methods, if they want to add them and see what they get or multiply. Eventually they'll hit on (or you guide them to) the idea of dividing the diameter into the circumference, they'll notice that the result is always around 3.14. Now they've discovered Pi for themselves. Kids will not only never forget the lesson, they now also know what Pi actually is in a deep sense rather than just "it's a ratio".
"Why should we subsidise intellectual curiosity?"
-Ronald Reagan

"Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
-George Washington
#23
That's how pi was introduced to me over ten years ago. I mean, science and math classes aren't always the dull, driving facts into your brain courses you are portraying them as. Humanities came off as less interactive and drier to me.
Last edited by MakinLattes at Aug 15, 2013,
#24
I find humanities popularity even more bizarre in that case.

In science you're doing experiments, keeping active and moving around the class doing experiments. That should engage active kids and teenagers because it's practical...you just have to integrate learning into the experiment which I think is one of the best ways to learn a subject - often at Uni stuff hasn't truly "clicked" until I've done a lab about it.

Meanwhile in history you sit in a room and study books, and it's often still about the facts, just you have an element of freedom to debate stuff. I mean history is interesting but it's not active and practical.

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#25
Quote by EndTheRapture51
I find humanities popularity even more bizarre in that case.

In science you're doing experiments, keeping active and moving around the class doing experiments. That should engage active kids and teenagers because it's practical...you just have to integrate learning into the experiment which I think is one of the best ways to learn a subject - often at Uni stuff hasn't truly "clicked" until I've done a lab about it.

Meanwhile in history you sit in a room and study books, and it's often still about the facts, just you have an element of freedom to debate stuff. I mean history is interesting but it's not active and practical.

I'm not just talking about stuff being practical, if that's all we can do then, to be honest, we're ****ed. Not all concepts can be explained that way.

What I'm talking about more in portraying science in context. This is primarily because otherwise we're kind of lying to our kids about what science is. However, it's also the case that the human mind responds really well to social thinking. We are not built for the kind of abstract reasoning that Maths and Science requires, it is primarily a co-opting of our reasoning skills developed for complex social interactions to other uses. You can give people the same logical problem presented in abstract numbers, in common objects, or in a social setting and the difference in ability to solve correctly the problem jumps massively when the problem is presented as a social one.
History is to a large degree the study of social interactions, be they "great men of history" interactions between kings and nations or "trends and forces" social interactions between groups of people. We're sort of built to get that, our brains are wired to be interested in it.

History in interesting because your brain evolved to be interested in it, it was important to understand social structure. People find science less interesting because that's the kind of shit your brain doesn't care about, unless you can find a way to make it care.
"Why should we subsidise intellectual curiosity?"
-Ronald Reagan

"Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
-George Washington
#26
Quote by Ur all $h1t
I'm not just talking about stuff being practical, if that's all we can do then, to be honest, we're ****ed. Not all concepts can be explained that way.

What I'm talking about more in portraying science in context. This is primarily because otherwise we're kind of lying to our kids about what science is. However, it's also the case that the human mind responds really well to social thinking. We are not built for the kind of abstract reasoning that Maths and Science requires, it is primarily a co-opting of our reasoning skills developed for complex social interactions to other uses. You can give people the same logical problem presented in abstract numbers, in common objects, or in a social setting and the difference in ability to solve correctly the problem jumps massively when the problem is presented as a social one.
History is to a large degree the study of social interactions, be they "great men of history" interactions between kings and nations or "trends and forces" social interactions between groups of people. We're sort of built to get that, our brains are wired to be interested in it.

History in interesting because your brain evolved to be interested in it, it was important to understand social structure. People find science less interesting because that's the kind of shit your brain doesn't care about, unless you can find a way to make it care.


Yeah but science also appeals to our natural inquisitiveness. When we're kids a lot of us are always asking "how does that lightbulb work" "why is grass green?" "why is the sky blue" "what is the moon?" stuff like that...elemental stuff. We don't ask stuff as kids like "why did Hitler go to war?". Lego is a really popular childhood toy and it's based on building bricks to make a structure...sort of similar to engineering.

But it seems as we grow up a lot of people begin to care less and take things for granted, grass, the leaves, our phones...but some of us still have that childlike desire for knowledge about everything around us in the case of science...or maybe a desire to build things in the case of engineering, so it's not like we don't have a desire to learn, it's just most people don't care how things really work on a fundamental level.

It's just mainly about keeping that inquisitiveness maybe, better teaching and more experiments at primary level?

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#27
As Coreys correctly pointed out, good education is the key.
You who build these altars now

To sacrifice these children
You must not do it anymore
#28
When are we not in the context of math or science? If you're talking about presenting things in chronological order and motivating them, there is plenty of that. Maybe teachers don't do enough of that? My friend just started calculus and got a thick pamphlet on the history and development of it. If certain things aren't interesting to people in their own right, read the first chapter of any science or math textbook; almost always they include the history of the topic.

And speaking specifically about history, it's not some subject completely divorced from science. Surely the progress of technology over the past 200000 or so years of human society is included somewhere? Or psychology: in conducting studies plenty of statistical analysis is done, and of course there is the neurological aspect, pharmacology, and so on.

Yes, all of the low-hanging fruits of math and physics have been long picked over. It takes years to get deep into either field with any competence, and in the mean time you're seeing the "best of" compilation of some guys who died 200, 300, 5000 years ago. But it's not like people are actively aware of this while sitting in a differential equations or organic chemistry class.

As far as the humanities not being easier than math or science, I disagree. Any of us could go to an APA or AAA conference and understand almost all of the speakers even if not being knowledgeable about the previous literature and research. The massive amount of reading isn't that much of a deterrent, just tedious and sometimes (most of the time) boring.
Last edited by MakinLattes at Aug 15, 2013,
#29
Quote by MakinLattes
When are we not in the context of math or science? If you're talking about presenting things in chronological order and motivating them, there is plenty of that. Maybe teachers don't do enough of that? My friend just started calculus and got a thick pamphlet on the history and development of it. If certain things aren't interesting to people in their own right, read the first chapter of any science or math textbook; almost always they include the history of the topic.

And speaking specifically about history, it's not some subject completely divorced from science. Surely the progress of technology over the past 200000 or so years of human society is included somewhere? Or psychology: in conducting studies plenty of statistical analysis is done, and of course there is the neurological aspect, pharmacology, and so on.

It's not about presenting stuff in chronological order, or about presenting little biographical introductions or one or two token chapters about method. It's about embedding science education generally into the context of discovery. None of this involves compromise on rigour, if anything it requires more, but it has the added advantage of sending people to university at least aware of what science actually is, even if they never study it again.


Yes, all of the low-hanging fruits of math and physics have been long picked over. It takes years to get deep into either field with any competence, and in the mean time you're seeing the "best of" compilation of some guys who died 200, 300, 5000 years ago. But it's not like people are actively aware of this while sitting in a differential equations or organic chemistry class.

Calculus was taught to me in a horrendous way in school. Essentially I just memorised a load of rules and practiced equations till I could do them well, but if you'd asked me what I was doing I'd have had no actual idea. That's bad teaching, and unfortunately it's everywhere.


As far as the humanities not being easier than math or science, I disagree. Any of us could go to an APA or AAA conference and understand almost all of the speakers even if not being knowledgeable about the previous literature and research. The massive amount of reading isn't that much of a deterrent, just tedious and sometimes (most of the time) boring.


I can't speak for the AAA, but you couldn't go to a psychology conference and understand everyone, not really. You will probably understand the woolier stuff, the Social Psychologists and the Counseling or Organisational Psychologists. However once the Psycholinguists, the Biopsychologists, the Abnormal Psychologists, the Perceptual or Cognitive Psychologists, even the Developmental Psychologists or Health Psychologists started talking about their research you're going to get lost very quickly if you don't have a background.
Hell, the perennial "joke" humanity of Philosophy would be extremely difficult to follow, especially in certain areas, without an actual background in the subject.
"Why should we subsidise intellectual curiosity?"
-Ronald Reagan

"Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
-George Washington
#30
I don't know, but that's a good question. I'd like to put a lot of thought into it
My God, it's full of stars!
#31
Quote by EndTheRapture51
Yeah but science also appeals to our natural inquisitiveness. When we're kids a lot of us are always asking "how does that lightbulb work" "why is grass green?" "why is the sky blue" "what is the moon?" stuff like that...elemental stuff. We don't ask stuff as kids like "why did Hitler go to war?". Lego is a really popular childhood toy and it's based on building bricks to make a structure...sort of similar to engineering.

But it seems as we grow up a lot of people begin to care less and take things for granted, grass, the leaves, our phones...but some of us still have that childlike desire for knowledge about everything around us in the case of science...or maybe a desire to build things in the case of engineering, so it's not like we don't have a desire to learn, it's just most people don't care how things really work on a fundamental level.

It's just mainly about keeping that inquisitiveness maybe, better teaching and more experiments at primary level?

I was super interested in the Irish famine when I was a kid, it depends on what you're exposed to.

Kids often ask those kinds of questions though for sure, and so do older teens; the problem is that if your answer is going to be longer than a sentence or two, it better be interesting.
"Why should we subsidise intellectual curiosity?"
-Ronald Reagan

"Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
-George Washington
#32
Just to touch on the popularity of the subjects against each other, from the perspective of someone who greatly enjoys both, but went on to do a History degree:

I think the problem with the sciences is that it doesn't engage students during their formative years, secondary education, as well as history can. In secondary school, you have one or two hours of science a day, from what I remember - yet how much of that is dedicated to actually actively 'doing' science?

Practical lessons in science classes, even the ones where we just watched the teacher do something cool with a bunsen burner and a strip of magnesium, were by far the highlights of mine and my friend's science classes.

Yet, there is so little of this actually done, and the material itself unless delivered brilliantly, so easily puts people off, that far fewer people even consider taking a science any further than GCSE as an option.

Come A-Level Biology, I was stunned at the amount of actual lab work that we did, and how enjoyable that made the lessons and subsequent lectures, that I picked up chemistry the following year.

Obviously, I'm aware that this may just be a personal preference thing, but I stand by it as something I believe to be a general truth.
#33
Quote by EndTheRapture51
We don't ask stuff as kids like "why did Hitler go to war?"


True, but even as children, people are interested/excited by the idea of weapons, and war. And that interest and fascination, tends to make it easier to be drawn into the subject as a whole at a later time.
#34
Quote by EndTheRapture51

If the UK is to have a thriving economy more like Germany's moving into a future of high tech industry and science,




Not quite. If you want to follow the Germanic model, guess what, it's not all about the tech industry and science.

In fact, Germany has a shortage of IT professional and engineers.

Therefore, if Britain is to follow in Germany's footsteps, do this: INVEST IN INTERNSHIPS, FORGET UNIVERSITIES.

In Germany half of "high school" leavers, if not more, go off to do an "Ausbildung". It takes three years, they get paid a bit, then they "graduate" and move on with life. Germany actually struggles to get their workforce to go to university.

Britain has a problem which is similar to Portugal's. Everyone thinks that, unless you went to university, you're probably an idiot or a lesser individual. And what happens? You end up with loads of social science graduates in call centers while the plumbers are overwhelmed with work and jobs they can't get around to finish.

So I'll put it into steps.

1. Discourage people from going to university, not just in a financial level.

2. Create a solid internship system.

3. Encourage internships.

I reckon people will naturally flock to hard sciences, but there's no point forcing someone who is not a natural in math to go into engineering, for example.


Quote by CoreysMonster
Then those aren't the people who would belong in sciences anyways.

If there aren't enough older kids interested in science, it's probably because they weren't shown how it can be interesting at a young age. I'm not a psychologist or anything, but all the things I was interested in as a kid, I still am today. I've gained a couple of more along the way, but I think that if you implant that spark of interest into more younger kids, you'll get more older kids with that same interest.


/2cents


Corey dropped the truth bomb. Do science fairs every year for kids. Teach kids how to do basic chemistry (Explosions, gases, meth).
Last edited by Philip_pepper at Aug 15, 2013,
#35
Quote by MakinLattes
When are we not in the context of math or science? If you're talking about presenting things in chronological order and motivating them, there is plenty of that. Maybe teachers don't do enough of that? My friend just started calculus and got a thick pamphlet on the history and development of it. If certain things aren't interesting to people in their own right, read the first chapter of any science or math textbook; almost always they include the history of the topic.

And speaking specifically about history, it's not some subject completely divorced from science. Surely the progress of technology over the past 200000 or so years of human society is included somewhere? Or psychology: in conducting studies plenty of statistical analysis is done, and of course there is the neurological aspect, pharmacology, and so on.

Yes, all of the low-hanging fruits of math and physics have been long picked over. It takes years to get deep into either field with any competence, and in the mean time you're seeing the "best of" compilation of some guys who died 200, 300, 5000 years ago. But it's not like people are actively aware of this while sitting in a differential equations or organic chemistry class.

As far as the humanities not being easier than math or science, I disagree. Any of us could go to an APA or AAA conference and understand almost all of the speakers even if not being knowledgeable about the previous literature and research. The massive amount of reading isn't that much of a deterrent, just tedious and sometimes (most of the time) boring.

I could also go to a science conference and understand most of it.

But technically I did a scientific bachelor so I don't know what you can do with that information.
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#36
Quote by Philip_pepper

I reckon people will naturally flock to hard sciences, but there's no point forcing someone who is not a natural in math to go into engineering, for example.



Not nessecarily...someone I know currently studying history who got A* in GCSE maths effortlessley...a maths natural, completely blank the subject for A level and go on to do humanities.

Likewise, another guy I know was aiming to be a medical professional, did all 3 sciences and German at A level but ended up doing a German language degree.

Obviously people naturally skilled at these things are slipping through the net.

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#37
People need to be educated more on what it's actually like to work in a specific field of science before they start to pursue a degree. Unfortunately teachers don't know what its like because they are teachers not researchers.
Also people need to stop getting degrees for the sake of having a degree.
#38
Quote by Philip_pepper


Corey dropped the truth bomb. Do science fairs every year for kids. Teach kids how to do basic chemistry (Explosions, gases, meth).


I hated all of that when I was a kid haha, except for hands on chemicals when I was like... 10?

Probably not very unremarkably, it was my interest in literature and the humanities (specifically science fiction and related things) which illuminated what I now understand to actually be my huge interest in space sciences.
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#39
depends on if they can spare money in their budget, which I don't know about and neither do most of you

#40
Quote by EndTheRapture51
Not nessecarily...someone I know currently studying history who got A* in GCSE maths effortlessley...a maths natural, completely blank the subject for A level and go on to do humanities.

Likewise, another guy I know was aiming to be a medical professional, did all 3 sciences and German at A level but ended up doing a German language degree.

Obviously people naturally skilled at these things are slipping through the net.


Ah yeah, that reminds me of this one guy I know.

He was brilliant. He got over 90% in all the science subjects, even the hardest ones, and he didn't even have to study much.

This is a guy, whom you can imagine working in a nuclear power plant, or working on cutting edge science, maybe even a hot shot surgeon, or a mega engineer. I asked him what he wants to do with his life.

"I'd love to be a History professor."

I never heard him talk about History before.