Science Education in the EU

October 12, 2007

Everyone talks about there being fewer ‘young people’ interested in Science and Engineering in ‘the West’. The EU is outlining some efforts to do something about it.


which side of the fence are you on?

October 11, 2007

Well, here goes my first I-Science Blog post. I hope it is ‘on target’!

I am an “Educational Researcher” in the Physics Department. This is an oxymoron – perhaps. Usually (please do correct me if I am wrong, I am very likely to be!) Physics or positivist science tends to view the Universe as a kind of gigantic clock, admittedly with lots of cogs and gears and all sorts of other elaborate mechanisms, but ostensibly, you wind it up and it ticks away. The problem then becomes what do the cogs and gears and other fantastically inspirational bits of machinery actually look like? Its a very valuable quest and has led to numerous concomitantly fantastic insights and associated developments but has its time come and gone?

Take human beings, for instance (the subject of my current research, i.e. you!), one soon notices that they don’t quite respond in a timely and predictable fashion! OK, we may like them to at times but, I’m afraid, Nature just isn’t like that! So, we move to a paradigm known as post-positivism where we accept the centrality of the Universe not behaving predictably or deterministically and, instead, welcome the complexity!

Further, since we accept that our reality is complex (and us too!) we need to accept that no one will ever establish A Theory of Everything. What we can say, however, is that this is me, this is my interpretation of the way things may be but its up to you to make your own mind up! This is, kind of, known as relativism, as opposed to absolutism.

Finally, relativistically, every version of the truth may be just as valid so, whilst I tend towards relativism, I don’t necessarily think absolutism – or positivism – is ‘wrong’. Its just that there are alternatives and the more we progress with the positivist paradigms the more we start to realise their limitations. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with this. That’s the way of paradigms (Kuhn put it much more eloquently than me!) The only solution is to keep talking, work out our differences and reach conclusions we are all happy with, for the time being at least!

So, I guess this was an introduction to me. As I’ve said, its useful to tell you who I am before I start to state my own views on things. Who are you? 🙂