Monday, 20 October 2014

Scientific madness

Looking around schools to choose the perfect school for one's child leads one to conjure tricky questions for the poor teachers having to be salespeople for the day/evening.

I don't think it's a stretch to ask teachers to sell.  I think that's effectively their job; they need to sell children an education and more than a passing interest in the subject they are being taught. 

But on open days I've taken to asking questions about science, and what I've learned is frankly shocking. Excuse me while I launch into "In my day...", but, when I was a lass if you had an aptitude for science then you chose which of the science subjects that appealed and those were the exams you took. 

I was a geek and choose Physics, Chemistry and Biology.  If I had been interested in just Biology then I could take just Biology. If I was more of a humanities or languages specialist then I could choose to study General Science which was one subject studied at a low level but providing a taste of Science. 

By the time children are choosing their subjects they will have tasted the sciences as separate subjects and they will know what they like and what they're good at. Most schools today offer compulsory Double Science. This is rather like the old-fashioned General Science subject but to a higher level and is counted as two GCSEs. Some schools may make an option for a less involved exam that is slightly less involved, just core Science, and counts as one exam. If a child shows an aptitude for science then most schools will force then into choosing Triple Science comprising Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Whist this is studied as one exam choice it actually provides three grades in the individual sciences. The bizarre thing is though that it seems that the sub-subjects are joined and cannot be split. 

Triple Science is the subjects bundled together. At many schools it seems impossible to choose just Physics or just Biology and Chemistry. This seems to me to be madness. 

I have a daughter who loves Physics, likes Chemistry but hates Biology. Most schools would force her to take Triple Science but she would want to study Physics and Chemistry.

Why are we forcing our more able students to be generalists? Why are we forcing children to take subjects they don't want to study? If someone has an aptitude for Geography and History we don't force them to study Religious Studies. It's madness.

No comments: