My conversations with my daughter w.r.t. science has invariably been like this:
Me: So what did you learn today?
Daughter: Today teacher told us that there are eight planets…
Me: Ok. Do you know when I was studying my teacher told me there are 9 planets…
Daughter: Yeah I know…earlier Pluto was a planet but now it’s not…
Me: Why it’s not a planet now?
Daughter: Because my teacher said it’s too small…it’s an exoplanet…
Me: It was very small when I was a kid also but then it was a planet…
Daughter: So? (looks at me with an angry look which meant may be your teacher didn’t know…)
And this kind of conversation keeps on going on…till some point in time my daughter will get irritated and say that her teacher is right and if I have any doubt I should go and ask my teacher…with that final insight she will leave the room. What irritates me is that she has lots of data points…number of planets, Pluto was a planet earlier, exoplanets, etc…but she has no appreciation of these data points. The same kids asks you thousands of questions when you ask her not to eat some junk food…but when it comes to science she has no questions or she doesn’t want to ask those questions. I can’t help but remember the following quote:
“Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.”
– Henry Adams
Why is that? Earlier I used to think the problem is with my daughter only but now after so many years during which I have talked to a lot of kids I know it’s a fairly prevalent problem. Why are kids not asking questions now a days? I have spent numerous hours thinking what has gone wrong with our education system? What can be done to correct that? Who are to be blamed for that? etc. etc.
And more question like that…but all basically trying to figure out why have things degraded so much? And like most of us, we get absorbed in such profound questions for some time and then shirk them off to resume our daily activities of earning our bread and butter…till those questions come back to occupy our minds again. This cycle continues for a large number of topics for each one of us. And them for some of us, one such topic resides in our minds longer than other topics and then slowly becomes the most material point that continuously irritates us and forces us to find an answer. One such topic in my mind is the abysmal level of Science education in this country and conversations with my daughter obviously have played their part in my irritation with it. Thus with each passing day I was getting drawn to the point something needs to be done. Why it has degraded is immaterial*…what can be done is more important point to focus on.
It is a sad thing that a country with such a rich history, a country which has given so much to the world has produced just one Nobel laureate in Science – Dr. C.V. Raman. Yes we have a few more but they are people of Indian origin – they have excelled in another more conducive environment. In the environment this country gave we have discovered nothing worth a Nobel. It’s shameful.
This shame is the genesis of DreamNobel. It’s an initiative to teach kids Science in a manner that it leads them to a path of questioning…because that’s the only path to enjoy Science…because that’s the only path to win a Nobel Prize.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
– Albert Einstein
I want my daughter to ask her teacher as to why there are only eight planets? And if her teacher can’t answer that question I want her to go ahead on the journey of discovery. If our kids are allowed to Dream then Nobel is not far off. It’s a ‘Noble’ dream…it’s a dream of a Nobel.
Noble Dream – Dream Nobel
*During one of my thinking journeys it once hit me that may be it was always like that? I can’t recollect my days when I was as small as my daughter but with limited remembrance also I don’t think I also ever asked my teacher – why are there only nine planets? We were always like that. We never allowed kids to questions.