Teaching Science

"You are doing it WRONG" is my conclusion when I look at Singapore's science education.

The science curriculum is evidently designed for application purposes only. Facts after facts, equations after equations is what science is depicted as to the children.

That's is why I have issues with it. Science is NOT JUST ANY body of knowledge. Science is the body of knowledge acquired by the scientific method. Yet the method itself never gets a mention when it deserves more.

Here's my thing: Teaching the future pillars of our nation that haemoglobin is a protein whose amino acid sequence is encoded in DNA which itself is a molecule housed in the nucleus of almost all of your body's cells is NOT as important as teaching them the Scientific Method, the method that scientists used to discover the fore mentioned fact.

Proper understanding of the scientific method is crucial for responsible citizenry in the age of science and technology. As far as I can tell, it is the ignorance and fear of science that causes the visceral hostile reactions to science and new technology where the general public is concerned.

Aside from a more complete understanding of the scientific method, perhaps the stories behind the central theories of the major branches of science could be presented as well. The basic idea is to expose students to the evidence that convinced the scientific community that those theories are valid.

I think such a class should be made to complement the current curriculum for all students.

For a better future.

Teaching Philosophy

Sometimes I wonder why we don't have philosophy taught earlier in schools. In Singapore, presumably because it would be seen as being practically useless. The kind of uselessness only matched by our Civics & Morals Education classes.

Now that I mentioned CME classes, I think it should be integrated with the philosophy class I wish to advocate. After all, ethics is discussed under philosophy.

Let's talk about the ethics aspect first since we're at it. CME classes comes across as a complete waste of time by being the superficial drivel that it is. Such classes usually briefly discusses morals without ever talking about the reasons for morality in the first place. Calling it superficial is already too nice.

For too long, students are taught to be good without ever being taught why we should be good. Morality comes across as an absolute concept not far removed from the religious concept of morality (ie, obedience). The class could introduce secular humanism and possibly other ethical philosophies for comparison with religious morality. Stuff like the Golden Rule and the Euthyphro's dilemma would be part of the discussion in such a class.

Moving away from ethics, I think philosophy should be taught because it is important in life. Students should be exposed to the stuff of philosophy like metaphysics & epistemology and the different philosophies floating around. And in the process, also learn about logical arguments.

What is objective and subjective? What is naturalism? What is the different between metaphysical and methodological? What are the logical fallacies? What are the problems of so-and-so philosophy?

Students should be taught why such things are relevant to their lives. And since this is my blog, I'm going to be unapologetic about this - people need to know why even metaphysical naturalism is more tenable than any religious crap.

Yes, one of my motives for advocating teaching philosophy is that it can be corrosive to religions. I believe that the reason why so many people still believe in bullshit is because they never thought about their own personal philosophy (or religion for the matter) at a deeper level. If nothing else, it is a logic 101 class that any human being desperately needs.

Wait, no, being corrosive to religion is not my sole motive. I think that what is more important is that the class would have the effect of purging non-evidence-based beliefs. Religion just happens to be included.

Perhaps, I have made the class sound biased. That is not what the class would be but what I hope it would achieve if we managed to engage the students.