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Today sees Gordon Brown announce new investment in the promotion of science education, but it relies on a tired view of education as something that can be viewed purely in economic terms - and as such is likely to fail.

Today sees Gordon Brown announce new investment in the promotion of science education, but it relies on a tired view of education as something that can be viewed purely in economic terms - and as such is likely to fail.

Last night saw a brilliant debate at the RSA on the role of art and politics in science, with reference to John Adams' new opera Dr Atomic. One of the big questions asked was whether the government, through organisations like STEM, was likely to succeed in turning around the decline in the number of young people choosing careers in science.

The answer from panelist Jim Baggott was not while UK Plc views its science workers as 'factory workers' that merely fulfil mechanical roles in the advancement of UK industry.

Young people are interested in science, Baggott claimed, at the point where they are asking questions. The point at which you lose them is the point at which the teacher starts providing a long list of answers that they have to learn by rote. The approach to education that says 'we need you to know this much, and prove it through gaining a qualification, so that you can fulfil the economic role we need you to' goes beyond just the sciences and is at the root of why lots of young people find it difficult to see why they should bother.

While investment in science is to be applauded, government's job would be made easier and perhaps cheaper, by investing in enabling teachers to engage and sustain the natural curiosity of young people through programmes like Enquiring Minds that was featured on the BBC today, and less on incentivising a reluctant generation into being 'the next generation of world class scientists' through financial reward alone.

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