It’s all too hard

There’s an article on the Telegraph website saying that 50% of kids find maths and science too hard or too boring – but lots of them still want science-based careers. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/primaryeducation/9146011/Half-of-children-find-science-and-maths-too-difficult-or-too-boring.html

The thrust of the article seems to be that you need specialist careers advisors to get kids to make the connection between the job they aspire to, and what you need to study to achieve it, as apparently they won’t realise this otherwise.

You will perhaps excuse me if I take this less seriously than I might. The listed “dream careers” include professional athlete, secret agent, astronaut, pilot and zoo keeper, as well as the odd more mundane one such as doctor and teacher(!).  I suspect that these are not really specific career plans, somehow;  I fancied being an astronaut when I was a kid, too – the other alternatives I considered were being a Time Lord, being a witch (the glamorous kind, not one with warts) or having my own sweet shop.

Quite a few of the comments below the article say – surprise surprise – it’s all teachers’ and schools’ fault for kids reacting like that to maths and science. If we did it right, obviously, then all maths and science would be easy, wouldn’t it? Er… no! Yes, some of it is hard.  Yes, you have to work at it, you have to know stuff – even if that’s “boring”. They aren’t “fluffy” subjects where it’s all about one’s personal interpretation of things – you need to argue rigorously and be precise – that’s the way it is, sorry.

I was also interested to see that apparently 15% of the kids surveyed thought that STEM subjects were only relevant to careers in medicine. This actually worries me rather more, as I’m continually fighting against this myself – it seems a default for a lot of people, that if you are good at sciences you will want to become a doctor – and look how many of the university applications are for medicine! Our careers department organised a whole Science Careers event to try to disabuse people of the notion, but it is very entrenched.  Don’t get the fascination, myself.

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