Schools shouldn’t skimp on science – Editorial

The editorial in today’s Dominion Post focuses on the issue of science education in New Zealand secondary schools, following the news that a growing number of schools are considering making the subject optional for Year 11 students.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Science too important to be optional

Not every New Zealand pupil studying science can expect to match the achievements of Lord Rutherford or Sir Paul Callaghan, just as not every pupil studying English can expect to write like Katherine Mansfield or Janet Frame.

That does not mean the study of either subject is futile. However, it does mean the assessment systems that are used need to recognise pupils’ wide range of abilities. Those used for English have taken steps to do that. Science should follow.

Some schools are no longer making science mandatory at Level One of NCEA, and the Secondary Principals’ Association has warned the Education Ministry others will follow unless there is some recognition the achievement standards are simply too tough for some. The result, President Tom Parsons has warned, is that some students will end up leaving with no knowledge of science at all.

That would be a mistake. No New Zealander in the 21st century is able to participate fully in society without having achieved basic literacy and numeracy.

A basic understanding of science is equally vital.

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