Chief scientists backs Pyne’s plan

by James Reid27 May 2015

Chubb said he was “very pleased” that Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, was seeking the cooperation of state and territory leaders to develop a national STEM school education strategy.
 
“I have been saying for a long time that Australia needs to approach science and mathematics much more seriously than we ever have, and that these subjects should be part of every child’s education,” Chubb said in a statement.
 
“We live in a world utterly reliant on science to fuel its industries and provide for its people. In the future, science will only become a bigger part of our lives, and the impacts will touch us all.”
 
This week, Pyne announced a plan to make maths or science compulsory for all Year 11 and 12 students in an effort to address Australia’s sagging performance in those areas on the world stage.
 
“I note that Mr Pyne is expected to put a proposal to the Education Council Meeting this week to increase the extent to which science and mathematics may be compulsory in senior secondary years within an overall strategy,” Chubb said.
 
The plan comes after Chubb warned Australia risks “being left behind” in the innovation race, and called for Pyne to seek a mandate from his state counterparts to develop a strategy to restore the focus on science and maths in both primary and secondary schools.
 
“I also reiterate the position I have put forward many times: science and mathematics have to be so compellingly well taught that students will want to study them,” Chubb said.
 
“We need to support our teachers at all stages of their training and career to engage, inform and inspire. We can do it if we have the will.”
 
 

COMMENTS

  • by Susan Hyde 27/05/2015 11:08:13 AM

    The Chief Scientist has backed Hon Chris Pyne's proposal to introduce compulsory STEM into the senior school curriculum on the proviso that science and mathematics is taught in a way that is interesting and relevant to young people. The focus needs to be in the middle years where many students are getting bored by too much talking by teachers, answering boring questions from textbooks, copying notes from, and doing predictable experiments that don't work. At least the Australian Curriculum has introduced a strand called Science as Human Endeavour, giving teachers the idea that they could design interdisciplinary science themes that relate to real world situations, or even let their students choose the themes.
    Choice is a very important aspect of engaging young people. Teachers could work harder to listen to their students, find out their interests and negotiate the Science learning.
    As for making STEM compulsory in the senior school certificates, students will not see the benefit of this unless the universities reintroduce prerequisites. Nevertheless, the key to participation in STEM is mathematics, and that's another story.

  • by Matt S 27/05/2015 12:35:11 PM

    Important to remember that Science and Mathematics are only half of STEM. Without Engineering and Technology education, we are only halfway to addressing the issue.

    Engaging students in our existing courses is a strategy more important than mandating courses to those not interested in a STEM skill career.