There’s a famous quotation attributed to various people, but the supposed authoritative sources credit to Blaise Pascal:
I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn’t have time to write a short one.
When I first started writing this blog I thought that my goal should be to write and post something every day. Of course, at the time, I had plenty of ideas—some worth sharing, some not. Good, bad, or indifferent, I posted them. Like the codfish, I laid 10,000 eggs hoping a few would hatch. Now, I try to limit myself to thoughts worth sharing. Iay—or may not—be succeeding.
I’m a science junkie. If it were 1955 or 1985 (or for that matter, 1895) I could have been Doc Brown in Back to the Future. The biggest difference is that he had a family fortune to support him while he experimented, while I’ve got a steady job (just as valuable, but less conducive to experimentation). Nevertheless, as kindred spirits, he in fiction and I in reality, we try to see what the next step might be. Which brings me to today’s issue.
Today there is a huge emphasis on STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math in the education biz, today—but there is no real commitment. It’s a lot of talk, but no real action. I’m not blaming the educators. God knows that I understand that there’s only so much you can do in guiding a teenager. However, among today’s teenagers, any interest in science is ridiculed. A student interested in STEM requires the commitment of the Maquis (that was the French Resistance in World War II); one must be willing to maintain a low—if not invisible—profile, only confide in a few trusted souls, and be willing to die a thousand deaths (of embarrassment) if discovered.
Kids today don’t realize that the person they call “nerd” today, will probably be called “boss” tomorrow.
In our effort to be politically correct and not impact anyone’s self-esteem we dare not put scientists, engineers, or mathematicians above athletes, gangstas, or “celebrities” who are famous for being famous. Personally, if I’m going to get my brain scrambled, I’d rather it happen in an experimental space craft rather than having repeated concussions playing football or via cocaine, meth, or whatever is the celebrity drug du jour.
Whatever happened to science fairs? High school science clubs? Achievement awards? When did it become shameful to be interested in science beyond the specific items included on the standardized test?
Think about it. To paraphrase Doc Brown, “Our future depends upon it.”
Steve, hope all is well. I always read your blogs with interest. You write well, and I’ve enjoyed your sharp wit since we were teenagers. (I espcially miss Pandemonium General!)
I wanted to just post a comment supporting your view on the lack of commitment to STEM. You’ve again made an excellent point, that unfortunately won’t track well with those making billions off of the backs of sports stars who ultimately suffer from C.T.E. (Chronic Traubatic Encephalopathy. See the recent movie “concussion” for a sobering view.) Or the Kardashians (need I say more??)
Our daughter Beth is a clinical microbiologist, and just finished her Master’s thru Rutger’s. We recently had a conversation on this topic very much in concert with your blog. Suffice it to say (and I truly believe), that much like the quote from “Revenge of the Nerds”, “there are more of us than there are of you”. We just need to work on getting people to realize that. As you so succinctly said, many of those who ridiculed those of us in science clubs in high school calling us nerds, now call us boss. ” ‘Nuff said ” (Ben Grimm).