I got to thinking about this when I was over at A Natural Scientist and found this wonderful article Curiosity, Wires, Destruction
My other theory is that everyone would love science if they were only shown it the right way. I've sat through a lot of lectures where the teacher clearly didn't know the answer to "Why should my students care?" And you know what? Those lectures were boring. But there should always be a convincing answer. Sometimes the answer is, so you can understand something else. Sometimes it's, because it's cool. Occasionally, it's directly relevant to everyday life:I have taught people science all of my life, just about. I was a camp counselor the summer after my freshman year of college, and we studied the outdoors. The kids were out in it and they loved it. When I taught Montessori, we had a wonderful science section, where very sophisticated concepts were presented at the level a three or four year old could understand. It was a very popular section of the classroom.
***We had a microscope growing up. Pond scum, dog hairs, onion skins, dirt, leaves: you name it, we looked at it. ***We took apart a washers, computers, blenders, and cars. "Why?" was always answered by "What do you think?"
All three of us are scientists.
I gave my own children a telescope, a microscope, a stethoscope, prisms, magnets, and gyroscopes and they played with them and learned.
Because I love science, I am always reading about it and adding new knowledge to my life. When I was teaching parenting classes, I added research about various things to help my students see the what and why of their children. I used research about wild ravens learning faster than tame ones to throw light on how their children needed to play outdoors and run and climb to learn easily. I brought in history to help them see that mistakes are to learn from rather than to be punished.
And the thing is, the thing that agrees with A Natural Scientist -- many of the parents in my class had dropped out of school. Some were illiterate. And yet, like all of the children that I taught, they loved the science that I taught them. Because I love it. Because I knew how it related to what they needed. And, because I taught it with respect for both my subject and my class. There is something that is amazing when you first see someone who the schools have always treated as stupid grasping science. Understanding that what she is learning is science. Knowing that she can understand it and that you know she can understand it.
Children are naturally curious about the world. They have to be slapped down, told that they are wrong for wanting to know the answers, to give up that curiosity. Children want to learn the way colts want to run and kittens want to pounce. What would you have to do to a colt to make it hate running? What would you have to do to a kitten to make it fear pouncing? We have to stop doing that to our children, whether it is happening at home or in school. Because it is their birthright to love learning, to love science, to be excited about new things. And too many of them are being robbed. Every adult you encounter who doesn't like science and learning has been robbed. It is unconscionable.