Monday, September 29, 2014

Academization of Science...

academize [uh-kad-uh-mahyz]
Word Origin verb (used with object), academized, academizing.
1. to reduce (a subject) to a rigid set of rules, principles, precepts, etc.
as in: "futile attempts to academize the visual arts."
Also, especially British, academise.

NPR ran a series of reports on the fact that major Universities have large research laboratories that are underutilized or idle. There has been a serious shortfall in funding for research. big universities built big labs, hoping for big money, but big results often come from those who are under less ideological and economic constraint.

I am also concerned that  the academization of science is leading students away from the field, when the need for student interest in science is greatest and the problems the world faces due to global warming, the growth of populations and lack of adequate food and clean water threaten our civilization.

Can you imagine students sitting in classes to study physics and chemistry when their hands should be busy making the connections between mind and physical reality that will engage them in a lifetime of investigation? Look no further than the American classroom, whether in pre-school or college to see that scenario come true. While laboratories are underutilized, students are getting more theory and less practice.

This summer in a Paris museum I visited a display from Lavoisier's original chemistry laboratory. It was a good reminder that work can be done in small spaces by single individuals that can change the world.

We have a desperate need to get students entangled in science. And so, how are we to do that?
"Theory," says Vives,"is easy and short, but has no result other than the gratification that it affords. Practice on the other hand, is difficult and prolix, but is of immense utility."
So why is practice of "immense utility?" Practice is the engagement in process that leads to educational entanglement. When kids these days learn about science in schooling, they are kept at arms length. In contrast,when they do science, hands-on, they become entangled in it and seek the opportunity to do more. It is the same with art, with music, and with the industrial arts. It's why all children need hands-on learning.

Academicians take an academic view of education. That's why those who choose to become teachers are forced to spend three years in the study of theory before they stand before a real class of live students and test themselves in their chosen field for the first time. Those with greater experience would have the students practice as they learn theory in almost the same breath.  And those who would like to empower science would put tools and instruments in the hands of kids and set them to work and investigation.

Make, fix and create...

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