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Topic: Re: Australia's Chief Scientist - ‘STEM in the national interest'
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GS Chandy

Posts: 7,589
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: Australia's Chief Scientist - ‘STEM in the national interest'
Posted: Aug 1, 2013 7:07 AM
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I have carefully read through the text of the Address to the (Oz) National Press Club from Professor Ian Chubb, Australian Chief Scientist as well as his paper: "Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the National Interest: A Strategic Approach July 2013"

> (Jonathan Crabtree): What's the US National Science & Technology Council up to?
> How will Australia catch up to Canada?
> What is India doing?
> What did Tony Blair say?
> What about China?
> Europe?


In regard to the questions above about what other nations may be doing, I would suggest that Oz (or any nation) needn't really worry too much about what other nations are doing.

"Catching up with Canada" is, for instance, nothing that Australia need to be worrying about at all - it just needs to do the best it can with ALL its own available resources. Each nation should learn how effectively to focus on its own aims and circumstances, and develop the best it can from there.

(I observe that, in most cases we - individuals as well as groups - are scarcely aware of our own individual and group intellectual and other resources and we very often we spend our time and resources in foolish aims and pursuits).

For instance, GW Bush when he was POTUS expended enormous time and resources on foolish invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that were essentially designed to serve only his own ego (and few in the US were able to see through that..

For another instance, there are some amongst us here at Math-teach who seem to believe that the most important things in life are:

- -- "TO PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!" (I) and

- -- "TO BLOW UP THE SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION!" (II)

rather than do some positive things with the time, energy and resources spent on I and II, for example:

- -- "To develop the best possible education system for the nation" (I-x)

- -- "To develop the schools of education that can best train our teachers" (II-x)

Another serious difficulty is that some nations - in particular the USA - are so caught up in that often-destructive 'competition paradigm' that they simply cannot wean themselves out of it and into a 'cooperation paradigm' that could be constructive.

Because of the ENORMOUS wealth and power ['hard' and 'soft' power] wielded by the USA (not "inordinate wealth", as earlier written), other nations may find it difficult to stay off that 'competition bandwagon'.

In general, the 'competition bandwagon' would tend only to be less advantageous for the nation in question than would be 'cooperation'. [By 'soft' power I mean cultural influences, culture; books; movies; music, etc].

Each nation should, of course, seek to learn how to emulate the truly worthwhile things done in other nations (of course appropriately modified to the specific needs of that nation) - AND it should seek to learn how to reject the incorrect or damaging attitudes or practices of other nations, avoid the errors made by other nations.

The real reason to study the progress (/lack of progress) of other nations is NOT to be more competitive, but mainly to avoid damaging and expensive mistakes that might be avoided by knowing about such errors that others have committed.

I was surprised to find that (though I had always regarded ex-UK-PM Tony Blair with considerable distaste), I wholeheartedly agreed with the ideas Professor Chubb in his address to the Aussie Press Club had quoted from Blair's 2002 address to the Royal Society.

Here are some of the 'positives' of Professor Chubb's Address and Paper on STEM.

In general, both the Address and the Paper by Professor Ian Chubb are very interesting and useful (in my opinion).

They are basically entirely sound in concept and approach (though the Address and the Paper have been prepared without formally using the systems science approach, so far as I know).

Professor Chubb has given us much to think about and absorb. In particular, I very much like his quotation from the Taiwanese Plan for STEM :

"(To enable our students/citizens) to take delight in learning science and in understanding the applications of science, to be curious about the profundities of science and to appreciate the beauty of science".

I do believe that if we can enable students from an early age truly to learn to delight in science and its extraordinary power and beauty, then I believe most STEM objectives can quite easily accomplished: thus, primary school education needs special attention.

(Recall that Isaac Newton took delight in his adolescence and youth took delight in constructing a whole variety of machines and realizations of his ideas in science [windmills; experiments in optics; etc, etc.]. We [or at least I] know far too little about the details of the specific circumstances and processes through which Newton came to develop this 'delight in science' that evidently possessed him. I believe that this delight must have been the engine driving his whole extraordinary career in science).

Here are some weaknesses of Professor Chubb's Address and Paper:
Weaknesses:
+++++++++++
I: The 'HOW?' sections of both his Address to the Press Club and in his Paper "STEM in the National Interest" look at the Hows? of STEM only rather superficially, I'm afraid.

This is a weakness that could easily be removed through effective application of 'systems science'.

By far the simplest way to apply systems science, specifically with a view to go deeper into the HOWs? of anything whatsoever is to use the 'systems approach' specifically as pioneered by the late John N. Warfield and developed in the 'One Page Management System' (OPMS - *see note, below). I have often written about the OPMS at Math'-teach.

II: Professor Chubb's 'Strategy Diagram' in his paper needs better design to indicate just how 'The Social Compact for a better Australia' would help develop an effective (general) education system, which in turn would help develop effective STEM education, which would then lead to the desired outcomes of 'Knowledge', 'Innovation' and 'Influence'.

Of course, any society actively working on such 'systems' will soon discover that - after student has learned to communicate effectively - there develops a VERY strong contribution from an effective 'STEM-education system' to the 'general education system'.

Probably this contribution is significantly stronger than the contribution from the 'general education system' [A] to the 'STEM-education system [B]. The contribution A --> B is much stronger in the earlier stages of infancy and childhood.

The contribution from B --> A generally develops AFTER the basics of effective communication (both oral and written) in natural language have been adequately grasped for the learner to read useful books and other material about science, etc.

III: The address and the paper do not contain (with adequate clarity for the layperson/ politician/ bureaucrat who will need to discuss and act on its recommendations, the 'elements' of an Action Plan and indications of just how those elements may be put together in order to enable the process to start in the society whose needs are being addressed.

Warfield's seminal contributions and developments from it, in particular, the 'One Page Management System' provide the practical means through which the process of putting together the 'elements' could start, in practice on the ground.

(*I note in passing that the OPMS has elicited much scorn from Robert Hansen, Haim, Wayne Bishop and their cohorts and consorts; this fact is - in my opinion - probably the best single best evidence available that there is considerable value in the OPMS).
+++++++++++

Below my signature appear some extracts from the Address by Professor Chubb, and a list of 'elements' developed his Address and his Paper referred above. ('Elements' first, below). [Writing up lists of various things is one of the earliest, and very important, steps in system design].

These elements are articulated in a format that is appropriate for direct insertion into an Action Plan for STEM education.

GSC

List of some 'elements' extracted from the Chubb Address and Paper:
++++++
The elements listed below are some aims articulated by GSC (mainly taken from the Address to the Australian National Press Club, by Professor Ian Chubb, Australian Chief Scientist and some from his paper "Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the National Interest: A Strategic Approach July 2013". I should emphasise that the list is only tentative: it has been prepared by GSC, and no claim whatsoever is made that these elements are final or even valid in a preliminary way; they will all require validation by appropriate stakeholders in the specific system(s) under consideration.

Probably a great many more elements will be required in a whole variety of dimensions. The OPMS process enables us to *integrate* all such elements into an effective Action Plan without a great deal of difficulty.

List of some aims for a STEM education system (in no specific order, just jotted down as they came to mind while reading the Address and the Paper noted above):
==============
1. To get community support for the STEM process
2. To operate with a social license from the community
3. To help make the nation the best it can be
4. To seek support from the community
5. To seek support in the most convincing possible way
6. To develop an effective education system at all levels, in all needed dimensions (see, for example, element Nos. 29 to 36)
7. To prepare a 'STEM-literate' community
8. To develop a 'STEM-proficient' workforce
9. To ensure there are enough citizens eager to become the STEM practitioners of the future
10. To develop an education system that could prepare us for the challenges of the future
11. To ensure a continuous flow of new ideas
12. To develop a societal milieu that properly enables and values innovation
13. To improve our capacity to innovate
14. To change our culture
15. to create better links between business and publicly funded research agencies and universities.
16. To ensure availability of an effectively 'STEM-prepared' workforce
17. To ensure industry has continuing access to a proficient 'STEM-prepared' workforce
18. To develop effective partnerships between research and industry
19. To launch a National Innovation Council
20. To ensure coordination of scientific endeavors in various fields
21. To develop the kind of global coordination needed effectively to tackle the global challenges ahead
22. To maximize the societal benefits of science
23. To leverage 'STEM-proficiency' for national and international benefit
24. To develop effective and mutually beneficial alliances with governments of other nations
25. To identify the specific elements in the education system that need immediate action
26. To identify the specific actions to be taken for effective development of the education system
27. To identify the sources, means and mode of funding actions in our education system in all its aspects
27. To enable flexible study modes for the needs of students at all levels and classes
28. To ensure equity of opportunity for all students, regardless of economic background
29. To develop needed links between education and research
30. To develop existing systems into an effective primary-school education systems
31. To develop existing systems into an effective middle-school education systems
32. To develop existing systems into an effective high-school education systems
33. To develop existing systems into an effective vocational training systems
34. To develop existing systems into an effective higher education systems
35. To develop existing systems into an effective post-graduate education systems
36. To develop existing systems into effective doctoral and post-doctoral education systems
37. To develop needed links between education and industry
38. To develop needed links between research institutions and industry
39. To develop the effective groups of research institutions that we need for the national endeavor
40. ...
41. (etc, etc, etc)


Quotes from PROFESSOR IAN CHUBB, Australian Chief Scientist :
(letter)
? the Taiwanese Plan)
take delight in learning science and
understand the application of science, be curious about
the profoundness of science and appreciate the beauty of
science.15 Many more would be eager for advanced study
in STEM were it like that.

...no matter how good we are, for the
full benefits to flow to our community, we need to have the
confidence and the trust of that community.

(page 12...) the third part of the talk: an approach to developing the STEM we need for our ambitions for our country to be realised.

...This is a call for a Strategy.

? what we need now is some persistence; some medium to
long-termism - well beyond the exigencies of the moment
and this or that terminating program.

...a key element - a social compact.

? (Carl Sagan quote): We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science. 16

...The investment in STEM education and research must therefore complement valuable work in the social sciences and humanities, work that is critical to our understanding and recording of our world, our cultures and our knowledge of society and relationships within society.

...there has long been a tacit (compact)
? the community needs to know that it happens, and how.
? when they know that the peers, the group with deep expertise, are rigorous about standards and integrity, their confidence will result in a community that widely respects science (or more properly STEM) and the evidence of experts.
? Tony Blair then PM of the UK said in a (2002) address to the Royal Society:
The benefits of science will only be exploited through a rene
wed compact between science and society, based on a proper
understanding of what science is trying to achieve. 17
? (Tony Blair) Science doesn?t replace moral
judgement. It just extends the context of knowledge within which moral judgements are made. It allows us to do more, but it doesn?t tell us whether doing more is right or wrong. 18
...(Chubb) STEM will be of most benefit to the community when it operates with a social licence from the community.
...In other words a licence provided when the community understands the why, the what, by whom and for what purpose ? and has confidence in the safeguards and the regulations. Hopefully it will also be a community
willing to demand that the ?Australian team? be supported
at a level commensurate with its responsibilities.
...The community may not always like the message the science delivers: but it does need the confidence to see why they?d be wise to listen to the experts ? to the robust exchanges between experts.
...to be clear about why we do all this ? the end game: making Australia better than it would otherwise be. (To help make Australia the best it can be)
...we need to inject a sense of urgency in our national approach to STEM so as not to fall behind
...the need for a refreshed social compact with the community so that the maximum benefits will flow to the community from the
Australian STEM enterprise ? the reason for the community to support us.
...the rest of the ?how.? (Four elements identified)
? first element that brings it all together is education ? where it all begins.
...our education system. It has to lay the foundations for all Australians
?.(education) has to prepare a STEM literate community; it has to prepare and be part of the means by which we refresh constantly a STEM proficient workforce; it has to ensure that there are suitable numbers of Australians eager to become the STEM practitioners of the future.
...We need to drive the education system away from educating students as we used to, and towards preparing students for a future increasingly bound to STEM.
...second element: STEM and new knowledge.
? to ensure a continuous flow of new ideas ? to understand the natural
world, the constructed world and our community.
...an open letter to the then U.S. President from 21 leaders of US industry. They wrote: History has shown that it is federally sponsored research that provides the truly ?patient? capital
needed to carry out basic research and create an environment for the inspired risk - taking that is essential to technological discovery.19
? The third element is STEM and innovation.
? Almost all other OECD countries are much more likely
than Australia to develop innovations that are new to
international markets. 20
? If we want to improve our capacity to innovate, we need to
change our culture.
...We need to create better links between business and
publicly funded research agencies and universities. And
we need to ensure that there is a larger and better-
prepared STEM-skilled workforce to work with our
industries.
...to ensure that there is a larger and better-prepared STEM-skilled workforce to work with our industries.
...This should be about partnerships and working together and understood differences ? not sitting in our silo from which we forever lament the efforts of the others.
? the Business Council of Australia whose paper released today calls for a National Innovation Council
...The fourth element is STEM and influence.
? The world?s challenges are shared. So are the solutions.
...The G8 science ministers commented in June 2013 that
coordination of global scientific research is needed to
address global challenges and maximise the social and
economic benefits of research.21
...Our approach should be led by strategic and funded
government-to-government alliances and by leveraging
STEM and its global reach to strengthen Australia?s
position and our opportunity to contribute to a better world.


Message was edited by: GS Chandy


Message was edited by: GS Chandy



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