The importance of science education for children

One of the features of wordpress is a list of what web searches have led people to your blog (or at least hits anyway) and they themselves can be fascinating glimpses into what people are interested in or what information on (mostly Tyrannosaurus and Jurassic Park). A recent one was the title of this post and it is a very interesting question (precisely it was “what is the importance of teaching science to children?”). Apart from the fundamental answer (well, everyone should know a bit about biology, chemistry and physics, much as they should know a bit about history, geography, art and maths) it is a good question. What does science bring to the table?

It’s hard to put in specific terms, but science as a concept (as opposed to just learning facts and theories, or heating stuff in test tubes) has some nice ideas to offer that would be useful for many people to learn and would be useful throughout their lives. Concepts such as logical deductions and inference, parsimony, and not accepting arguments (or dismissals) based on authority but from evidence, and scepticism would all be handy. Teaching someone how to appraise and evaluate conflicting evidence and any bias in that evidence would be useful ‘life skills’ for pretty much everyone. Let’s face it, it ultimately comes down to trying to spot patterns, work out reasons for them, and to spot errors and mistake: how can learning these skills be bad or unimportant?

Of course many of these are taught in various ways and in subjects well beyond science, (history lessons for me at least included things like looking for bias in various accounts of events), but I do rather like the idea of formally teaching students what it means and why it’s important. I don’t think I was ever taught the ‘scientific method’ as a concept, we were just told there was a right and wrong way to do things, and while that included excellent guidelines about things like eliminating alternative possibilities to the cause of the results (effectively applying a control) the concept of a control in itself was not.

Something that laid out the ideas and reasons behind accurate formal writing, using good judgement, formulating rules, testing ideas, parsimony, and bias would be an excellent introduction to the scientific method, but also to thought itself. Teach kids how to think, how to evaluate and judge, how to process information and come to rules and conclusions about the world. Get that right and they will be armed with a powerful set of tools that will literally last them a lifetime, and frankly it’s hard to see how that cannot be good. I don’t think kids are incapable of learning these things as concepts and entities, and already many if not all of them *are* taught – but in a more systematic and integrated framework, I would expect them to stick better in the mind and let the kids see how the ideas work together. The benefits to science teaching (and many of the arts) are clear if the children had an established concept of how to present and test their ideas independently and to evaluate material put in from of them, as well as having something to take outside the classroom for the future.

17 Responses to “The importance of science education for children”

  1. 1 Tyler 27/01/2010 at 12:12 pm

    Very nicely put. I came here because I am a college senior writing writing an opinion column for my university newspaper about just this subject and I was looking around to find other people’s viewpoints on science education. I plan to expand a little on the ideas put forward here, but your words are helpful to keep in mind, thank you.

    • 2 David Hone 27/01/2010 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks very much, glad to be of interest. Oddly enough this is one of the most read pieces on my blog and seems to be one of those most searched for phrases that brings people here. However that does, I suspect, mean that people *don’t* know what the importance is (though one would hope it’s largely self-evident) though I suppose at least they are looking for ideas. Happy to help.

  2. 3 Bethany Pendleton 26/04/2010 at 9:42 pm

    I’m not so sure that it is because people do not understand the importance of science. For instance, I am also a college student who is writing a paper. We have to be an advocate for something, and after spending a great deal of time within many elementary schools, it is clear that many programs and schools have left out science and social studies from their curriculum. People need to realize that although reading and math are important for early childhood students, it is also important to introduce them to science and social studies.

    • 4 David Hone 26/04/2010 at 10:28 pm

      But I think that rather supports my case though – if people realised the value of science they would ensure it was a central part of the cirriculum and not marginalise it. I agree that we can’t blame the kids for not being taught it, but someone somewhere is allowing science to take a back seat and I can only assume that is *becuase* they don’t realise how central it is.

  3. 5 ebenwa 08/06/2010 at 11:37 pm

    Thank u very much,ur answer are correct and interesting it was a take home assignment in my department

  4. 6 maCy 12/07/2010 at 10:20 pm

    thanks a lot. it helps me and my group members in doing our groupworks in pedagogy science. nice thought! 🙂

  5. 7 Gwen 05/11/2010 at 10:22 am

    This is a very good summary of the importance of science education. Kids often want to know “why” they have to have science, however, some adults are not quite sure as well. I think it’s so important that students as well as adults understand the life skills taught in science that are applied to every aspect of their lives. As you stated, the more they learn about these principles, the better equipped they are to deal with any situation in life.

    Thanks a bunch!

  6. 8 Edema 20/03/2011 at 5:48 pm

    This is a very good summary of the importance of science education.thanks a lot. it helps me and my group members in doing our groupworks in importance of science. nice thought!

  7. 9 anujakrishnan 14/05/2011 at 8:56 am


  8. 10 Bella Swan 04/07/2011 at 4:59 pm

    thank you very much it help me in doing my project “importance of science education for children’. it is very nice thought it helps all of them to study about science education for childrens.

  9. 11 Rajesh Kumar 17/07/2011 at 2:48 pm

    Science is very important for us Every thing is depend upon sci. . In daily need we use it but mostly peoples don`t know how . Here simple eg. use of fan for air it takes electricity and convert it in mechanical to rotate the fan give us air which are using to stay cool Nd lot of facts are here which looks very simple but these are important to us ……….

  10. 12 Arbaz Rashid khan 23/10/2011 at 5:05 pm

    thnk u very much this essay help me in doing my project

  11. 13 Robert A. Sloan 14/11/2011 at 7:49 am

    I love your attitude. I was lucky enough to have a scientist for a father. Many of these ideas came from the fact that he was a great teacher who didn’t stop with paid students but taught my sister and I at whatever level we were – teaching was a habit for him.

    I can’t say I got much of that in school though.

  12. 14 Ahmed Bukola Ramat 27/11/2011 at 3:12 pm

    That’s. Very great and interesting

  13. 15 vaishali 27/12/2011 at 2:29 am

    thanks for the topic if this was not there i cant complete my project

  14. 16 Amina 16/09/2012 at 12:04 pm

    Of cause everyone should know the importance of science

  1. 1 The importance of words « Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings Trackback on 22/10/2010 at 8:37 am
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