I'm concerned about the state of science teaching. Over the past few months, three quite separate accounts have made me nervous. The first was an opinion published last month in The Harvard Crimson, the university daily, in which student Irene Y. Sun detailed her wretched experience in a science class. Describing the erosion of her intellectual curiosity1 by the relentless pursuit of grades by teachers and students alike, Sun wrote:

"At what point did professors automatically expect that their students studied their subject matters because of career requirements rather than intellectual appeal? Why are so many of my fellow students so hell-bent on requirements instead of passion? What happened to that sense of academic adventure, excitement and curiosity?"

She asks good questions.

The second prod was provided by the summary of a Science Advisory Board poll of scientists on ways to improve "scientific literacy."2 Teaching teachers to...

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