leon_m_lederman's picture
Director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Physicist and Nobel Laureate; Director Emeritus, Fermilab; Coauthor, The God Particle

The Coming Revolution in Science Education

I am optimistic about science education! I knew I should have had a
psychological check-up, be tested for delusional fantasies, my PhD revoked in a public ceremony with the breaking of my pencils. After all, in 1983, we were officially declared "A Nation at Risk".

Commissions galore like the 1999 Glenn Commission was entitled "Before it is too Late"; Education Commission of the States "No Time to Waste", The Hart-Rudman Commission which came close to recommending that the budgets of Education and Defense be swapped!

Eminent CEO's like Bill Gates (Microsoft), Craig Barrett (Intel), Louis Gerstner (IBM), Norman Augustine (Lockheed Martin) i.e. Corporations which depend on rationality for their profits, all agree that our system of 50 independent States, 15,000 school districts, 26,000 high schools etc etc has failed catastrophically to educate our students for life and work in the 21st century. But the good news is that the portent of our failed educational system as it impacts our health care, our economy, our culture and our status in the globalized world is finally becoming clear, clear to parents, clear to economists, clear, gasp! even to members of the Congress!

Somehow, we have created a sputnik-like climate warning of a powerful enemy...not the Soviets but even more worthy of a war we must declare and win: The War on Ignorance.

Out of Sputnik came the National Defense Education Act of 1958, NASA and a renewed determination to modernize science education, but also the conjugate communication skills, foreign languages and a need for public science literacy.

Can one imagine parents who know the earth revolves around the sun?

And for all of the Edge scientists, an audience who might read their stuff? Now there is wild optimism!!