“We didn’t learn that in school.”

Check out this fantastic NPR interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

In the interview, Tyson explores how there is a serious disconnect between what’s happening in the educational system and what it takes to be scientist.

Or, in my opinion, the serious disconnect between what’s happening in the educational system and what’s happening in the real world.

According to Tyson, it all starts in the beginning…

  • “…we tell them to shut up and sit down after spending a year telling them how to walk and talk.”
  • “You’re afraid your dish might break, so you tell them to stop playing with the china. Well, what’s the cost of replacing your dish? A few dollars. If it’s expensive, maybe twenty dollars. Why is it that you don’t spend that, but you’ll easily write a check to send your kid to some fancy school for thirty or forty thousand dollars a year? “Oh, because at the end, they’ll have the degree from this school.” It ain’t about the degree. It’s about: How do you think?”
  • “Who is it that we say are the best kids in the class? The ones that shut up and pay attention to the teacher, not the ones who are jumping up and down and breaking things. Kids should be allowed to break stuff more often. That’s a consequence of exploration. Exploration is what you do when you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s what scientists do every day. If a scientist already knew what they were doing, they wouldn’t be discovering anything, because they already knew what they were doing.”
  • “This is a fundamental disconnect between what’s going on in the educational system and what it takes to be a scientist.” [ Or anything, in my opinion.]
  • “You learn, and they test you, and you need a high score on the test, and the teacher only likes the kids who get the high score and the kids who are quiet while they’re teaching, because they’re the well-behaved ones. What are we promoting in society? Well-behaved automatons that spew back what they learned in a book.”
  • “And that’s what the school system tends to cherish, not only in the curriculum, but in who learns it. That’s why you have kids with their straight-A averages embossed on their jackets, and you’re supposed to be impressed that they got A’s. And no one seems to ask, ‘Well, tell us your insights about world affairs. Tell us your deepest thoughts about the nature of mathematics.’ ‘Oh, we didn’t learn that in school.’ That’s the reply.”

You said it, Tyson.

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