Why do most people find science boring?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Magical Realist, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    3,703
    Yes, in this relation the US is much more free than Germany. In Germany, they can take away the children if one tries to homeschool them. Changing the school is possible in Germany too, my children have done this even several times. But there is not much difference - except there is different personal.
    All children are born with curiosity. They may be curious about very different things.
    I doubt. But this is not the point.

    [quite]I strongly suspect this is true of most people - there are unpleasant parts of their work (or hobbies) that they force themselves to do so that they can participate in the activity.[/QUOTE]
    Yes. But there is a difference if the unpleasant thing is part of what you really want to do - in this case, this is nothing which really hurts - or if you are simply forced to do this.
    And if I see how preschoolers are happy to go first time to school, and compare what they think the next year about this, I know that what happened is terribly wrong.
     
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Right. The ability to do something unpleasant for a more important goal can be summed up as "discipline." Young kids don't have this yet, which is why parents and teachers provide all (or later some) of that discipline for them.
     
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    IMO, that is the time where the young mind is "conditioned". What they learn at this stage is imprinted and will influence every obstacle they encounter from that point on.
    However I have a little problem with the term "discipline" (by others). I would prefer concentration on assets like "confidence" and "self-discipline".

    I once read an article which showed that when a child is exploring the world, the word "no" or "don't do that" is much more often used by parents than the word "yes" and "would you like to try". Apparently when the "no" is used by the parent, the child will forever have and imprint which associates a specific activity in a negative way.

    The article also recognized that parents use the word "no" or "don't do that" usually for cautionary purposes, but that a much better approach would be to explain to the child the potentially harmful results of his activity.

    George Carlin observed that some parents won't allow their children to cross the street without a safety helmet and that we seldom see children sitting in the yard playing with a stick anymore. I remember doing that myself as a young boy. Parting the grass and observing ants and bugs do their thing. I would later come home excitedly recounting my observation. Recognizing that this was an area of interest to me, my parents took me to see the movie "The Hellstrom Chronicle" which forever changed my entire outlook on the insect world. To anyone who has not seen this movie, I can highly recommend it.

    The movie is broken into parts. Make sure to see all the segments (playlist)

    While I did not become an Entomologist, today I have a fair knowledge of the incredible abilities of insects in general, ants and bees in particular. We mostly see insects as pests, not realizing that the honeybee's symbiotic relationship with flowering plants is responsible for feeding a large percentage of life on earth.
    Apparently, our meddling with insecticides and large fields of uniform crops which use bee pollination has now effectively rendered the honeybee an endangered species.
    IMO, that is a profoundly scary scenario. Perhaps a better understanding of our impact on the entire ecosystem, from GW down to the insect world, might result in better stewardship.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
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  7. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    "Discipline" is IMHO something different - behaving as other people want, following the orders of the authority. This is what a teacher needs in an obligatory school.

    The ability to do unpleasant things to reach a goal is something even some small childs have, other don't have it even as adults - that's part of the character. What makes the difference is that children care about short term goal, not long term. So what a good teacher needs is the ability to sell them a lot of short term goals. Together with the ability to use an existing short term goal to teach things which have long term effects.
     
  8. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    3,703
    This is natural, and a simple consequence of that childhood curiousity knows no boundaries, but parents know about what is dangerous. So, if something is not dangerous, the child does not need any "yes" and "would you like to try". Nobody objects - so let's try it.
    Yes, but this depends on the expectations of what the child is able to understand. I would agree that adults tend to underestimate this ability, thus, I would also agree with this recommendation. In particular, because one tends to underestimate the influence of such explanations: It may be that the child does not understand it, but nonetheless remembers it. It may be that it does not abide, and will be faced with the negative consequences. In above cases, you don't see the effect immediately. But the effect is there - and will result in increased trust.

    Nonetheless, there will remain a large amount of things where one simply says no without much explanation. In particular, there are also a lot of cases where one simply says no - without explanation - simply because the explanation has been already given, possibly even many times. The external observer cannot know this.
     
  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I agree.
    What was revealing about the article, IMO, the article cited a very high ratio of no's over yes's, which was stored in the child's mind and memory and could influence the person for the rest of his life.

    I had never considered such a thing, but it made perfect sense to me.
    If the brain remembers and subconsciously weighs the no's against the yes's, in the process of decision making, it becomes an unbalanced judgement, leaning to the negative , "no, you cannot" (as found in religions), instead of, "yes , you can, but you need a purpose, critical thinking, and self-discipline, to go to the stars................", or even a simple "well-done", when warranted.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  10. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    This is, of course, not really a new observation. One of the jokes I like: The mother to the father "Can you look what the children are doing, and tell them to stop this?".
     
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  11. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    billvon did a decent job of picking-up where I left off, but this got glossed over:
    That isn't the point. The point is that by playing more soccer and doing less math, he will not be as good at math.
     
  12. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    Ok. How many good mathematicians needs our society?

    Then there is the point that if you are better in mathematics it is more difficult to cheat you. This is a point every child can understand, and important enough for the child to care about.

    The more general idea that learning mathematics is a good way to teach logical thinking is ok, but in fact it does not help much. The logic one needs in every day life is the logic of plausible reasoning, and it differs from pure mathematical logic - it is the logic of probability theory. The pure logic, which is essential in mathematics (and the only thing teached in mathematics) is only a part of this. And based on pure logic only, you can derive nothing in real life.

    This does not mean that learning mathematics gives nothing, it gives a lot, and good mathematicians are better in detecting logical errors. But the logic you need in everyday life you have to learn elsewhere - in everyday life. It is not teached in school anyway.
     
  13. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    More than we have now; and I'm not talking professional mathematicians, I'm talking basic arithmetic and algebra. But apparently, you do agree that your proposal will worsen education in certain fields, not improve it as you previously claimed.
     
  14. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    No. Regarding basic arithmetic and algebra I disagree. What you need not to be cheated on the market is something everybody is interested, and this interest starts already early, when they handle their first pocket money, thus, in this domain one can expect better overall results than today.
     
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    LOL, that's true.

    But often the scope of the beautiful game of soccer is not given enough credit. It is a primarily mathematical game of geometric formations, which are founded on the principle of triangulation (similar to basketball). Of course these formations are fluid and that requires an extraordinary perception of changing geometric forms and the wavelike flow of play.

    In addition, as a soccerball in play is always a lose object (only the goalie can touch the ball and hold it), with unpredictable behaviors, it will always act in accordance with the laws of momentum and trajectory and air turbulance, both of the wind and over the ball itself.
    Anticipation of ball behavior is critical. Great soccer players are natural mathematicians.

    Note that the mastery of these scientific mathematical variables requires years of dedicated practice and visual studies in order to acquire the knowledge and skills in these functions and to recognize what immediate action to take, but alas, it is true, not necessarily the symbolic maths.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    It is what anyone needs to live a fulfilling and happy life.
    They have a little of it from a very early age - but a very little of it. It increases with age, and eventually self-discipline is able to take over from the discipline imposed by a parent or teacher.

    Do you have children?
    Agreed. Discipline can come in many forms, and good teachers do a good job of making it more fun and less onerous. However, abandoning it because it is too hard, or does not make a child instantly happy, has bad effects long term.
     
  17. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    You can't have it both ways, and in fact, in reality today, it works neither way: either the kid blows off the math to go play soccer or he doesn't. If he does, he doesn't learn the math.

    It sounds like you are suggesting that by not forcing people to learn math, they will choose to learn it -- that the forcing is what causes people not to learn it. That doesn't work either: people choose not to now, whether forced or not. As adults, they are no longer forced, but they still choose not to. So both ways - when forced and when not forced, people aren't learning enough math now.

    Math is hard and boring and people don't like it. That isnt caused by it being compulsory and doesn't change just because you make it non-compulsory. What happens is that people will learn even less of it than they do now. In our example of the kid choosing soccer, you even agreed that they would.
     
  18. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    5,051
    Or remember anything from before you were an adult? I'm a 39 year old, successful engineer, but I was not self motivated as a child. I could not possibly have gotten where I am without parents and teachers forcing me to learn against my will.
     
  19. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    3,703
    "Discipline" in the sense of submission to authority you don't need. In the sense of being able to follow rules in a team, yes.

    "Self-discipline" in the sense of internalizing what authorities have told and identifying oneself with the authorities, no. In the sense of being able to follow own decisions, overcoming temporary whims, yes.

    The ability or the will to fight - that means, to overcome some obstacles to reach the own aims - is more or less strong already at a young age, it is more character trait than education.

    And, no, I don't believe in such a takeover. There are two variants: The child accept submission to others - then it will be submissive all the time, follow others instead of making own decisions. Or it doesn't - then the "takeover" is simply the point where it becomes strong enough that parents can no longer force it to do what one does not like.

    But, of course, this does not mean that one will do something completely different. If the child is sage enough at this time, it may be able to recognize that what the parents have tried to force him to do was in his interest. If not, shit happens.

    Yes, all already grown up.

    This is a different question, but you should not think that education has much effect at all. 50% is character, 50% is environment in the widest sense - with parents, siblings, teachers, classmates, peer-group, TV, books as influences, and most of the influence being in form of being a role model. Thus, intentional education gives something below the 5% level on influence.

    This is what I doubt. What means not self-motivated? You wanted to lay all the time in your bed doing nothing? Or you simply didn't like to do the things which you today believe have been useful to you?

    If you were simply interested in other things, I'm sure if you would have done these other things, the results would have been fine. The amount of things you have learned is, in fact, quite irrelevant, given that those who learn with self-interest learn much faster much more. You would have learned different things, much more of them, and the side effects would have given you enough in the other domains too.

    I was quite similar to what I'm today already as a child. I liked math quite early, also played chess, at the top level of my home town. But after some time disliked it. My father had similar thoughts that it would be better if I would continue, and learn to overcome these whims. The only result was that I learned how to overcome a slightly different particular problem, namely the will of my father. After around half a year I succeeded. With mountain hiking and alpine skiing as the sport disciplines I liked I had sufficient opportunity to learn how to overcome difficulties.

    School was nothing but a total loss of time. It would have been much better if the teachers would have allowed me to read books of my own choice during this time. Given that I had interest only in math, not at all in physics, I have essentially not really learned anything about physics at school. Sufficient for exams, ok, but nothing beyond. My interest in physics came later, completely independent of the school - so that I started learning physics with relativity.
     
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    12,818
    Good discipline is submission to an authority (either your own will or others) that you DO need.
    Those are two different things. The will to fight is very different than self-discipline.
    And an endless span in between. Ideally the child submits to the will of his parents when he is young, and that control is gradually withdrawn as he matures and is able to make decisions on his own.
    I find it to be far more than that.
    Some people will never succeed no matter how you educate them. Some people will succeed no matter what sort of education you deny them. The vast majority of people (90%+) have their prospects improved by education. The link between formal education and success in most people has been validated dozens of times in studies on the matter.
    You went to the wrong schools, then. I had times that I hated the classes I was taking - but I stuck it out for a variety of reasons, and learned a lot as a result. Calculus taught me how to think a completely different way.
    Then I have no doubt you understand the discipline that children need when they are young.
     
  21. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    3,703
    Submission to the own will is something very different from submission to the will of others.

    There is, of course, a difference. But if there is a readiness to fight, self-discipline is not a problem. It appears naturally when the goals of the child move from short term to long term, which happens anyway if the child starts to understand long range consequences.

    I disagree with this. This is an authoritarian ideal. The antiauthoritarian ideal - simply turning it upside down - is also wrong. The much better idea is that one simply lives together. Everybody has his interests, and one finds a compromise. In case of conflict, which happens, the adults will appear stronger - but there is, even in this case, no point in enforcing submission. The child has the right to protest - and will use it.

    Yes, most people think it is far more, but it isn't. The 50% genetics vs. environment is quite well tested empirically, and it is not only IQ, but a lot of different things too. The role of the peer group is heavily underestimated. AFAIU, it takes at least 50% of the remains, except for the very young. What remains are 25%, to be subdivided among two parent and a lot of teachers. If your part is, then, 10%, it is big. And, then, the difference between what you say and what you do. What influences the child is in the greater part you as a role model - what you do, mostly during the time you are not educating it. But, ok, even if we subdivide these remains into equal parts, we end up with 5%.
    In a world where formal education is required to reach the best jobs it is clear that formal education will be very important for later success. But this is quite different from the question of what is the result of teaching and education.

    No. Other schools would have been even worse. This I know certainly.

    Yes. And I think they don't need much. To have adults they can talk with, about whatever problems they have, is much more important.

    My recommendation: Forget about education. Think about the child as a human being living together with you. Behave as one has to behave if one lives together with other people one likes. In case of conflict, try to find a compromise, and only if this is really impossible use your superiour power to enforce your own interests.
     
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  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Not from the point of view of results. And kids absolutely need that substitute for self-discipline, at least at first. You can't tell them "well, Bobby, you can play on the highway or play in the yard; your choice."
    Often a readiness (and inclination) to fight is a self-discipline problem.
    No, it is simply practicality. You cannot allow children to do things that will harm them when they are young. Every parent understands this.
    The point is the health, safety and development of the child.
    That he will!
    OK. Then you are an outlier.
    I'd say both are important.
    My recommendation - make sure your child places a high value on education, and help him decide how he wants to pursue it.
     
  23. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

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    3,703
    Of course I care about their safety. And will forbid him to play on the highway. But in fact this is not really a big problem. One of my sons had started to run toward the street seeing red light - with the only point to stop where he should, to show that he already knows this. I could have trusted him - but nonetheless had to explain him that I know I can trust him, but the pure drivers who see him running will be very afraid, and this may become very dangerous. He understood.
    There are, of course, children with a problem with sadism. This is deep insight and a problem, and shows very early. I have known one such boy - he had a problem, and recognized this and tried to do something - but he did not have a self-discipline problem. Instead, he was a quite successful swimmer, on the national level.

    Yep, but this covers about 5% of the conflicts about discipline, if not less. I have no problem at all with these 5%, but with the remaining 95%.
     

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