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Parenting and STEM education 

said everything better so just read his fifty-five year old speech to science teachers feynman.com/science/what-is-sc

I lament that because the way it’s taught, the majority of the adult population sees science and mathematics as finding the correct answers to pat questions. This has misserved us during pandemic and will continue to. We now know that confusing “SCIENCE” with “the right answer”—rather than *the process*—caused tremendous damage.

Parenting and STEM education 

A lot of parents feel STEM is important and therefore there’s a lot of programs and schools marketed at them, but almost by definition these attempt to stuff students with the findings uncovered by the scientific method, or the vocabulary or computational gymnastics associated with it. Kids who take to this mistakenly think they’re “good” as STEM. Kids who hate it think they’re “bad” at it.

This makes me terribly sad.

I don’t have a neat pre-packaged solution 😕 but…

Parenting and STEM education 

My spouse and I consciously opted out of much of the various STEM offerings for something that Feynman invoked in his speech as well: spend a lot of unstructured time outdoors looking at whatever you want.

You see how we can’t possibly package this and sell it to busy parents who want to enrich their kids’ schooling with STEM.

And we can’t be sure it’s actually doing anything.

But it’s glorious, spending hours a day on the mountain, at the beach, in the forest.

Parenting and STEM education 

We do subscribe to specific courses—happy to describe in DM—but these are almost more for state requirements for homeschoolers. We can see how these tend to encourage overconfidence—“I now ‘know’ ecology, friction, Snell’s law, …” so we try to compensate by watching more advanced documentaries or videos to emphasize that any and every STEM topic is incredibly deep, and unfinished, and that you won’t remotely understand it until you do graduate research in it.

Parenting and STEM education 

@22 This reminds me of when my parents ran school science fairs when I was in elementary and middle school - the aim was to introduce kids to the scientific method, and while this was made extremely clear, parents would buy their kids volcano kits every year and get them disqualified. I remember classmates being annoyed about this because they didn't get the point...

Parenting and STEM education 

@mplouffe how do you think we can teach the scientific method to school children? To me it seems hard until you participate in open research—that’s the first time I encountered real science and was floored by how unprepared I was for the discipline and honesty it required.

I don’t think we’re teaching our kids the scientific method—just to be aware of the debates and argumentation and Kuhnian and Popperian angles of the scientific process as a human process?

Parenting and STEM education 

@22 Yeah, I'm not sure about how it could be done. There needs to be a fair amount of repetition, but schools also have to teach basic facts to a bunch of students who aren't necessarily all that interested in any of this.

Parenting and STEM education 

@22 knowing some of the rules helps with exploring and thinking about higher things. It's that doing those to the exclusion of exploring that issues occur

Parenting and STEM education 

@22 yeah, we did a lot of bush walks as kids. And Dad always had a useful kernel of an answer to our querries, I never connected that to me being good at STEM things, but I guess it couldn't have hurt.

Parenting and STEM education 

@22 i'm not completely familiar with the US edu system.
Tho, I think its not that different from what we have here (France). Here, STEM (and mostly maths) are a subject you can take at school but are a way to discriminate people. Maths are the main mean of ranking people which leads to absurd things where people taking STEM in highschool can do whatever they want, even litterature, etc...
My point is that school subject are not only a mean to teach kids stuff.

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