I was awakened by our alarm clock this morning to catch the end of an interview on BBC Radio 4 with two white-coated, learnèd scientists who were talking about teaching science in schools and how they felt that the subject was undervalued as a future vocation for young people. (Imagine the mocking laughter on this end of the radio and my acerbic wit “you should try being an artist, mate!” Cutting, eh?)

I was aghast, because for me it is the opposite, as scientific knowledge is given the pre-eminence, promoted as the way of knowing the world – what with its verifiable knowledge and all that jazz! It trumps the notion of the epistemic function of art any day, or so we are told.

So, for every problem of course, there is an answer and this was presented by the two white-coated villains, who suggested that Science should be taught to young people in a more appealing fashion. Thus, they would achieve their desired outcome – that young people may consider it as a vocation. Wow, impressive!

Now, at this moment I’m scratching my head, for Science is taught as one of those vocational subjects and has held a higher status in the curriculum than Art ever has. What they are confirming tacitly is that despite this status, young people don’t connect what has been taught to them in schools with the possibility of being a Scientist!

I recall the viva voce for my MPhil, when I quipped to the Internal and External Examiners that pupils “being taught Art in schools didn’t make them Artists!” This was apparently news to the dear academic folk of Exeter. “What does it make them, then?” (Not a graciously asked question I felt, but hey, let’s see where we can go with this). “Does teaching a pupil Science in schools make them a Scientist?” I asked, politely. “No, of course not.”

Now you may think that I won that little bit of academic ping-pong, but alas I lost the point. You see, education is about power and the control of reality and not about opening up new vistas of said reality. That’s no doubt why they call it Liberal Education! (Irony or Sarcasm? You choose!)

Subsequently we have a vocational course that doesn’t act vocationally for the pupil and a non-vocational course that does act vocationally! There is something amiss epistemologically in the minds of Educationalists, methinks.

So, with every perception there needs to be some concrete examples of how to set things right, right? Otherwise we are just talking ideals and not the realisation of some scientific theory of education leading to praxis? Right?

So, here it comes. How do you make Science more appealing to young people? We are thinking pedagogy, right? We are thinking of new ways of communicating scientific knowledge to a young audience? Right?

New ways of communicating how science has made our lives much better? Right? Scientific breakthroughs = Progress = A better society, right?

NO! You’d be wrong with that unscientific assumption drawn obviously from your naïveté. With every ounce of their scientific acumen and wisdom, with their highly developed cranial activity we see that this will be achieved by…

Now remember, this is the BBC, right? So, we’d expect something inspirational, something out of the blue, big sky kinda thinking, right?

Wrong! This need to ‘make Science more appealing to young people’ could be realised by telling them stories about scientists who had taken hallucinogenic drugs to aid their research and ‘open their minds’! You can imagine the consent forms, can’t you? ‘Do you consent to your child taking LSD, DMT, or any other tryptamine-based Class A drugs, in the pursuit of scientific knowledge?

So, it’s all about the drugs then? Your career in Science is to be fuelled by hallucinogenics! When the going gets tough and you can’t quite resolve your theoretical paradigm problems – just pop a little Acid! This will work of course, because that generation of scientists (and presumably parents) know that young people are all about excess: sex, drugs, alcohol, rock ‘n’ roll, right? So, you can adopt a career in science along with an addiction. Seems like a good work/life balance you’ve got going there!

So, whatever happened to Einstein’s view of intuition playing a part in scientific breakthroughs? Well, it adds a whole new meaning to the equation E=MC² doesn’t it?  (E being Ecstasy – for those reading this who are of an older generation).

And I’m still thinking BUT THIS IS THE BBC? So, now, wait a minute. Maybe I’ve awakened during one of my kid’s Science homework (Bedtime) experiments.

  1. Take a glass of your parent’s warm milk
  2. Add the hallucinogen from test tube A and stir.
  3. Serve to your parents at bedtime (and tell them you love them).
  4. Be ready to check for any signs of their ‘altered states’ (see list B)
  5. Record any symptoms on Project Report Card marked “Science 101”.

So, is this what the Government means by ‘drug awareness’ in education?

Far be it from us to say that actually freedom is first and foremost a spiritual state and not a political one, because we’d be brainwashing our children to believe in God, or a ‘spiritual reality’ and that might really harm their social development – when of course drug addiction wouldn’t!

Perhaps we should pull together a list of Scientists who at some point used drugs to free their minds and then have corresponding experiments at school? ‘Can your child better Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?’ If this is the best ‘liberal’ education can come up with,? Then we are doomed, or at least the future of education is doomed. And you’re thinking, ‘This is how scientists would choose to mentor young people for a career in Science!’ Why? Because they obviously don’t know who their kids are, or what they need to prepare them for life.

Cue music from the film ‘Invaders from Mars’!

A footnote on reality:

So, what’s your favourite story about a Scientist who experimented with hallucinogenic drugs to further their career and make the world a better place?

Did they succeed or are we imprisoned in a Mad Scientist’s dream in the Altered States of America, or maybe the United Kingdom of Peace and Love?

When is it time to wake up?

Cue music from Arcade Fire!