Physics teaching is going to hell in a handbasket

June 9th, 2007 at 01:18am Os

When I was a lad in school, back in the days of yore (ie, the late 1980s) I wasn’t really enamoured with many of the subjects I was taking at ‘O’ level (the precursor of GCSEs) and then ‘A’ level.

However, I absolutely loved physics. I loved the precision, its predictive powers and how, well, sciencey it was. With the right equations you could work out everything from the path of a cannon ball to the energy produced when matter falls into a black hole.

In short, it rocked my physical world.

I didn’t realise this at the time, naturally, but although I wouldn’t go into a career that requires me to use physics every day, it did finely tune my bullshit meter and give me the apparatus to see through nonsense and woo quickly. For example, someone told me that using a mobile phone would literally cook their brain, as if it was in a microwave oven. My bullshit meter immediately went off and after a quick scribble on a piece of paper to work out the wavelengths involved, it was apparent that the human head is simply too small to even interact on any meaningful level with the radio signals involved.

So you can imagine how disheartened I was when a physics teacher called Wellington Grey announced that the new GCSE physics curriculum is basically dumbed down to the point of insanity.

Already universities here in the UK are having to give new students remedial maths lessons, now they’re going to have to teach remedial physics for those poor souls who want to take a hard science in further education.

This is why more people than ever are taking ridiculous ‘soft’ subjects like Media Studies instead of the old, tough subjects like Maths, Physics, Chemistry et al – why do all that hard work when you can sit around for four years watching TV and still get a degree at the end?

Now the UK government, through its education policies, is determined to produce several years worth of physics-ignorant kids who don’t know F=MA but do know that global warming is a really bad thing, m’kay.

But, what the hell, if you make the exams easier more pupils will get a higher grade and then the government can crow about its achievements in education!

I really wish I was just being cynical.

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Entry Filed under: Rants,Science

1 Comment

  • 1. grey  |  June 9th, 2007 at 7:03 am

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