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Why is science a core subject?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by bigpedro, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    I wouldn't have managed in life very easily without Maths and especially English I've needed them daily all my life. I'm also in no way against science (I actually have a Physics A level) but I'm sure that I could have got by with a rudementary knowledge of the sciences and not been too badly off. In the same way that I get by with a potted history of the world and a spattering of RE.
    Do we take it for granted that Science is a core subject and never question the validity of it's inclusion?
    What is the justification for it's inclusion (other than tradition)?
    Who made the original decision that Science should be a core subject?
    I know this is going to rub some people up the wrong way and that really isn't the intention. I've just been wondering, thats all.
  2. Interesting point.

    Any non-core subjects that should be core? Perhaps MFL? Home-ec (a return to, rather than catering/food tech)? ICT?
  3. cdmoore28

    cdmoore28 New commenter

    Well I am a Science teacher,so you could say I am biased. I think Science as a core subject holds its strongest argument within Biology. We all have a body and we interact with living things everyday. We get ill, we reproduce, we need to go on diets etc etc and to understand all these things we need some basic Biology education. For one, I think we need more microbiology taught at GCSE so that people can understand more, all the medications that they take and hopefully reduce antibiotic abuse.
  4. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    A good point about Biology. I think its worth knowing about germs, the body, medication e.t.c. and this kind of knowledge should be taught. However, does it need to be taught as "core" or could it be a "compulsary" subject up to y10 for example.
    We all live in a multicultural society, our school for example is 15% Muslim so a grounding in other faiths is also pretty important, yet RE isn't a core subject.
  5. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    Science is necessary. For a start, it puts maths in practice and then it underpins a whole wealth of subjects, not least ICT (well, more the computing side). Without science we don't have the basics for medicine, engineering and to some extent geography (more under different guises).
    Without it, we don't understand how the world around us works, and living in ignorance shouldn't be an option (even if science isn't something we necessarily use).
  6. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Probably because if you don't do Sciences at GCSE you close the doors to quite a number of careers and academic subjects. Fewer options are closed off to you if, for example, you drop History or Geography after Year 9.
  7. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Good point, though the same could be argued for D&T in a much more real life context.
    Agreed! Ignorance shouldn't be an option, yet there are ignorant people in the world who will never care why fossil fuels will run out, why they get pregnant, why they're ill or how crude oil is refined. Should these people be forced to take the subject or should it be optional for those who actually care?
  8. MarkS

    MarkS New commenter

    It's funny you should mention D&T - Design & Technology...in the modern world, is the subject really worthy of the name 'Technology'?
  9. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Valid to a point, but students who enjoy science or want to do it for a future career will still always opt for it. Think about your bottom set year 10 Science class (assuming you're a Science teacher) are any of them likely to enter a career where a GCSE in science will be essential? If not, why make them do it?
  10. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    No it isn't, you're quite correct. (and that from a DT teacher) Theres a debate going on at present as to whether DT should change it's name to "Design and Engineering" or simply "Design" I personally think the "Technology" part of the name should go.
    If I may quote myself from a thread on the Design and Technology forum....
    full thread here... https://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/530773.aspx
    "Technology" is a misleading term for what we do, especially when we're still working with materials that are decades old and even our most advanced machines. the lazer cutters, CAD software, 3D printers, sublimation printing e.t.c. have been in industry for at least the last 10 years.
  11. Why is Science a core subject? - at the risk of stirring up trouble, here are some ideas:
    * commerce, industrial development the nation's wealth are closely linked to scientific and technical superiority. We need a population that is comfortable with science and 'not afraid' to push its boundaries in order for the nation to create wealth and feed manufacturing & industry with new ideas/ widgets.
    * the 3 sciences are unlikely subjects to study 'in your own private
    time' once you left school, out of choice. For example, you may learn a
    foreign language, get really interested in History or start studying
    economics out of pure interest as an adult but no-one ever makes any
    headway in science, by themselves, after school so it is important to
    make sure the population is as well aducated as it can be in this field.
    * a half decent confidence in any science discipline means you are in a position to challenge and less likely to be taken in by snake-oil merchants selling you miracle solutions to any of life's problems. So an education in science also serves as an insurance policy against wasting money on, copper bangles, weird diets, homeopathy (unless you are a placebo seeker) etc etc.
    I also happen to think that everyone should speak another language fluently AND have a sense of history... but that's another thread...and we can all get there by ourselves, without a teacher and a lab.

  12. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Agreed, my subject would be nowhere without science. As for the "not afraid to push boundaries" part. That kind of cutting edge stuff will never be done in schools and <u>a little</u> knowledge is a dangerous thing. Whilst I agree with the sentiment, surely educating the masses a little only gives them ammunition to attempt to shoot down scientific ideas thus retarding progress? classic examples..... "oh no, the millenium bug, we're all going to die" and "don't switch on the collider it'll create a black hole and we'll all die"
    However, if anyone wanted to research a particular scientific subject then they could. The fact that by your own admission they don't merely shows that either.... schools did such a good job of teaching them that this is unecessary or that they really don't care.
    Yep, that kind of **** winds me up too, but there will always be a market for it and the snake oil merchants pay the same rate of VAT as the pharmecutical companies.
    Again, I agree whole heartedly (Dispite my hatred of Welsh)
  13. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    You could make that arguement for any bottom set in any subject. They are not going to get any grade that will benefit them in the futue so why make them study it?
  14. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    You could indeed, but in other subjects there are alternatives, vocational courses, apprenticeships, work experience, or simply dropping out (eventually) are all options depending on your school's particular leanings. However, not generally in Science because its a core and must be done.
  15. Unfortunately in my school, science is a core subject in name only :( it's not timetabled, just falls under the wishy washy area of 'theme'. I'm an NQT but in all of my training, and since starting work, I've taught two science lessons, which is a real shame because personally, I think its important. It helps children to develop an inquiring mind, and teaches them to question their surroundings, and test them.
  16. Lilac18

    Lilac18 New commenter

    Science has to be a core subject because it affects us every second of every day. Whether as was mentioned biology, eating, exercising etc or physics everytime we switch on a light or get in a car or use a TV, or chemistry when we take medicine etc etc
    In an age which technology dominates every part of our existence, to not give children the basics to 16 shuts many doors and leaves the world around them as one big black box. You can't say the same about the non-core subjects like unlike Geography, History, RE etc In fact to compare science with DT is just bizarre. I went to a girls school and never had DT. I have never missed not being able to wield a saw or a solder, and could undoubtedly teach myself with practise. Science requires much more thought and analysis!
    Even if you don't want to use science in the future it teaches children to analyse and ask why, critical thinking skills based on evidence - if the increase in conspiracy theories are anything to go by, we need more good science teaching not less!
  17. I am an NQT teaching science. I honestly believe that the practical implications of much of the science we teach is stuff that could be picked up later as required.Someone who wants to take up gardening will rapidly be able to inform themselves about nutrient (and other) requirements of plants to a much more useful level than is taught. A fireman will soon know much more about the practicalities of combustion than many secondary teachers once they begin training. A plumber will have to gain a secure grasp of pressure or find themself out of work pretty smartish. Don't get me started on the water quality testing that has somehow got into some courses.
    Those people who aren't that interested in science are very unlikely to study science or a subject requiring science at university (I would guess) and those topics which DO affect us directly (health + reproduction, lifestyle etc) could easily be taught under a separate subject heading. Not one of those ones with no exam squashed awkwardly into tutor time. A solid option that occupies lesson time and has homework.
    Science is a hugely important subject for the economy because unless you know how stuff works it's hard to make it work better or differently. But I imagine that the people who end up doing this are the ones excelling in science anyway. I'd be very interested to hear of stories of individuals making big turnarounds between KS3 and A Level. If this is commonplace, then experience will correct my misconceptions over time. Otherwise I think there's a fairly strong case for science not being a core subject.
    I would hate for science to be broken into bio/chem/phys options early on (and would argue that the current divide is damaging as it is). I also think that the amount of time given to science at the moment is important for those wishing to pursue it, and should be protected. I don't think there's a strong argument for science over history, geography or modern foreign languages though. I think the practical experience of DT could be hugely useful to someone entering a number of creative/artistic professions, or for example construction. I just don't think that enough people become scientists to warrant the hours that students spend.
    Keen to hear more opinions on this,
  18. If you do indeed use English, then you obviously did not learn how to spell rudimentary, nor did you learn the correct way to use an apostrophe. I also suspect you mean a smattering of RErather than a spattering.
    To amswer your queston, we live in a society that has changed out of all recognition in the last 100 years, mainly due to scientific advances. If we are intending to educate children in a way that enables them to take informed decisions about their world, then we cannot leave science out of their education.
    Perhaps we should improve English education though!
  19. Lilac18

    Lilac18 New commenter

    "I am an NQT teaching science. I honestly believe that the practical implications of much of the science we teach is stuff that could be picked up later as required."-jonnym
    You could argue that everything we teach at school could be picked up later as required - surely? How does that statement help assess which subjects are core? which ones would you pick?
    " I just don't think that enough people become scientists to warrant the hours that students spend." - Jonnym
    But as others have pointed out you don't just teach a subject beacuse you want them to do it at A level or as a career - you do it because it teaches important life skills. Science teaches analysis of evidence and encourages children to question how things work, it is a starter for those apprentership jobs such as electricians etc as they also require basic science.

  20. Lilac18

    Lilac18 New commenter

    Jonnym I have just noticed you are a science NQT. It is a little concerning as the kids will pick up on your lack of passion for the subject, and your ignorance of their ultimate learning objectives. Why did you want to become a science teacher?

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