ABSTRACT

Danger exists in using deficit and decline narratives that unsurprisingly have paralleled evidenced declines in research funding for Australian science. While surveys suggest a public lack of understanding of science which is all too often diagnosed and remediated as “dumbness”, Australians value science education. Scientists need to be careful when they enter debates about the future direction of science curricula because of the danger in dichotomising the debate in which old pedagogies emerge as retrograde solutions. Solutions exist in new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (e.g. iSTEM) curricula which are connecting traditionally separated department in schools and in scientists valuing science education and educators as experts. The deficit and decline narrative will continue to be a “dangerous solution” at a time in world history where our young people are more highly educated than ever before with a vastly greater exposure to and experience of science and technology than previous generations. In the current climate where we are suffering a true decline in research funding and disillusionment with careers in science research, we need to take stock and develop new ways to engage society at large with the sciences that are the only hope for sustaining humanity. For Australia's future, we must foster a culture committed to more substantial funding of science research and better education of science teachers.

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