CBC News has posted an interesting article regarding Canadian math and science ability across our country. In short, we are VERY lacking in our science and mathematical ability as a general population. They claim that this is due to the fact many provinces only require mathematics until students are in grade 10. At this point, I was shocked (at least we require grade 11), and a little worried. Do students really understand all of the math they need to be productive citizens by grade 10?!
Then, I looked at the ages considered, 16 – 65. A very diverse group. I would have liked to see results broken down by age categories. For example, do the younger students have stronger skills? I ask this because I believe they would for two reasons, 1) students have more recently completed formal math work, and more importantly, 2) math is now given in real world contexts. Do these contexts affect retention?
My next questions are around the drop out rates of science and math. Why are these rates so high when science is SO interesting? I have always wondered why my physics class sizes are growing it is only by a few students per year. Physics is how we explain our world! My class is JAM PACKED with labs and investigations and I even avoid difficult math until the very end of concepts. Why aren’t students taking these courses? Is it because they want an easier class? Is it because they don’t like science? I am completely baffled, but definitely understand where this article is coming from.
Scientific literacy is fundamental in our society. New technologies emerge every day and our students need to have a basic understanding of these new technologies. So, let’s start the conversation. How can we improve our science classes to increase the number of students taking them?