The Power of Why

I came across this article yesterday on the AsianScientist.com about the Phil. Department of Education dropping science from its Grade 1 and 2 curriculum. It’s actually an old story but when you look at the reactions online, you’ll see that it still hits a raw nerve.

I think the reason why we’re so offended by this issue is because of what it implies. It implies that our government thinks that our children (and by association, us their parents) are not smart enough to understand complex scientific concepts. It implies that our government doesn’t think that our teachers are capable of teaching science to young children. It implies that we, Filipinos in general, are afraid of science and that it’s beyond our simple comprehension.

I understand that the Department of Education did this to follow the educational model set by our Asian neighbors. There’s nothing wrong with that because we can see in their cases that the K-12 system does work. Science education would be strengthened, they claim, because science would be taught at an age where children are better equipped to understand it and t’s easy to integrate science topics in other subjects.

But that’s not really the case. Rather than just following the system, why not improve on it? Why be content with just catching up with our neighbors? Why not introduce science early so we could bypass them?

Killing Curiosity

This decision saddens me because it greatly underestimates our children’s curiosity and desire to learn. What parent hasn’t complain about how inquisitive their children are? They can’t stop asking why. Why do we eat? Why do we sleep? Why does the sun shine? Why is the earth round? Why is the night dark? Why do my fingers wrinkle after I bathe? Why? Why? Why?

No one is too young or too old to learn science.

No one is too young or too old to learn science.

They can’t see that these questions are about science. Teaching science isn’t about spoon-feeding children science concepts. It’s about answering these questions accurately, in the way they understand so they’ll ask the right questions and learn how to find solutions.

When we foster our children’s curiosity and encourage them to ask questions, we’re teaching science. When they express the desire to know more about themselves and their environment, we’re teaching science.

When we tell them they’re too young to understand science, we’re teaching them to fear not just the subject. We’re teaching them to be afraid of learning and exploration. We’re telling them that they’re not good enough to learn and we’re not competent enough to teach. We’re basically killing their curiosty, telling them they’re too young to ask questions. When we take away science and turn away from the power of why, we’re not just failing our children, we’re also depriving them of all the opportunities they deserve to have.

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