Promoting sciences

The Government has promised £75 million to universities to prevent further closure of chemistry and physics departments. The subjects are vital to the economy but it cannot be economically viable to sustain (such expensive) courses that do not attract enough students. The Government should address the problem at schools to ensure enough students will take up these important subjects.



It's pet theory time:

The subjects that have shown declining numbers at schools - maths, sciences and languages - are subjects for which there are right and wrong answers. The subjects that have grown in popularity - arts, humanities, and social sciences are subjects in which people perceive that it is just a matter of opinion, all opinions are equally valid, and the merits of opinion are to be weighed according to how they are expressed, not according to whether they are right. But do either schools or students want to go back to the days when you were seriously tested on your knowledge and understanding, not just your opinion? How would those mythical educational improvements look?

The slide in these subjects is symptomatic of the intellectual corruption of our age. Putting it right has to start at home, where parents will have to place far greater emphasis on right and wrong, and the achievement of standards. It will have to be reinforce at schools from the earliest age, where teachers may have to apply more rigorous judgment and harsher assessment of the merits of students' arguments in the softer subjects. And the value of the hard subjects should be demonstrated clearly in schools and universities by pay packets for teachers of the subjects that reflect the greater scarcity (and perhaps greater rigor of their training) of people with these qualifications. That will go against all that the educational establishment stands for, and won't make parents of lower-ability children very happy either, but it needs to be done if we are to reverse the decline in our capabilities as a nation.

It's not just or even mainly a question of funding, it's a question of attitude. Are we going to accept good and bad, better and worse, or are we going to carry on trying to pretend that everyone can be equally right?