Journal: News & Comment

Monday, August 27, 2001
# 1:31:00 PM:

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Elites and illiterates

A friend pointed me to an article in MIT Technology Review that wonders how so many people in the U.S.A. (and elsewhere) can be scientifically illiterate -- when they come from the same educational system that produces the world's most accomplished scientists.

The answer in the U.S., and in many other countries such as Canada, is that our educational systems are designed not to educate everyone about science, but to find talented kids and turn them into scientists, while discarding everyone else. Even more unfortunately, teachers in the earliest grades don't need to know any science, and many actively dislike it.

As I sit here typing at a computer keyboard in a newly-built high-tech structure run by a company that makes even higher-tech wireless modems, it's sad to think that most people have only the vaguest understanding of what it takes to make a computer, or build a building, or communicate wirelessly -- or what it takes for my body and brain to sit here typing. That ignorance isn't because people are dumb, but because these topics never seemed interesting to them. And that's a shame.


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