Understanding our world

Parents have ambitious goals for schools. They hope their children will learn the skills needed to work and live in a fast changing world, but worry about whether there is time for them to learn all they need to know. A report in today’s S.F. Chronicle gives a discouraging picture of how little little they are learning about the basic principles of how the world works. Science education has almost disappeared from the lower grades of elementary schools as the mandatory tests in reading and math take up more and more time in classrooms. Eighty percent of teachers report they spend less than an hour a week teaching science, yet it is studying science that develops a child’s curiosity and sense of wonder about the world. Most scientists working today report that they learned to love science as children. Our need for well-trained scientists is growing, but will our children be able to fill that need if they never hear about science while they are young? Parents and other adults need to keep their eyes on the schools and encourage them to teach the skills and knowledge children will need for the difficult future they face.

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