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Why Are Fewer Students in Science Fairs?

I read this article recently and I thought it worth sharing. It seems that students are no longer signing up for science fairs. Apparently they don’t have time because they are focusing on studying to complete their standardized tests and meeting all of the pre-established requirements for getting into college. Schools have conditioned them to get good grades and are no longer helping them learn or learn how to learn. Everything is focused on reading the books and writing the tests. Science fairs are a hoot and generally those who enter do so out of a desire to learn for learnings sake. It terrifies me to think that the type of mind that enjoys learning and wants to learn might become a thing of the past.

Standardized testing has given us a world where people are often hired for new positions by HR departments and not by those who actually require the help. The HR staff who hire employees aren’t even necessarily aware of what would make someone good at the job that they are applying for. At the very least, employers are using HR, agencies, or websites like Workopolis to weed out prospective employees that are deemed unsuitable by their diploma’s pedigree. As a result the only foot that job hunters get near the door is their resume. It no longer matters if you have decades of experience or if your obviously as dumb as a bag of hammers. As long as you’re carrying a diploma that proves you’ve paid someone for your education then you can be deemed to be qualified. Everything has to be standardized, meaning that you paid a standard amount of money (that you had to borrow and you’ll be lucky to pay back) that grants you the right to say you have an education and therefore can perform a task that you have never before even seen done. I once worked for a company in a specialized industry that needed to develop products. The obvious first step in a case like that is to hire engineers. The problem with requiring card-carrying engineers was that there were darn few who understood the specialized industry and it was a considerable amount or time before the correct mixture of engineers was found and company began getting its money’s worth. A roomful of diplomas did not help get the job done in any way. Once the engineers arrived, those who had decades of experience with what development had occurred up until then, but did not have an engineering degree were suddenly ill equipped to advise on product design. Why is it that the completion of a degree is so often the sole determination of usefulness?

Remember when teachers had something special that allowed them to present material to students in such a way that they were encouraged and interested in learning? We all have memories of a particular educator who delivered information in a manner that made you want to learn more. Those teachers understood what it mean to teach people how to learn and make them want more. Doesn’t seem that way anymore? Guess what…teachers these days have a standardized education. How do you know your child has a teacher who has a desire to teach, or better yet has a desire to learn? What standard do we use to measure someone’s ability to absorb, assimilate, and build upon knowledge? We’ve all known people who spent their time at college partying and got through by cramming the night before exams. Those types of people have acquired their diploma but they haven’t necessarily acquired knowledge. Is that the person that you want working for you? Is that the type of person that you want as your M.D.? Standardized testing clearly has flaws and having students go to college because they are “supposed to” doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s vitally important that people have a desire to learn or they can never achieve anything. Why is it that acquiring a degree has become a measure of worth? Ever wonder how a licensed auto mechanic or a licensed electrician got to be licensed? Some one determined that the type of person who crams for finals shouldn’t be working on brake lines or wiring service panels and they had to spend a lot of time learning to do those jobs through hands-on experience. That means that people become mechanics and electricians out of a desire to perform those jobs. Not because someone told them that they required a piece of paper in order to get a good job and should figure out what job to acquire afterward.

As someone who…bypassed…the halls of academe I have been fortunate as I love to learn and thrive on absorbing information. Unfortunately, thats a really lousy thing to put on a resume and I think that’s a problem that I share with a lot or people. Anytime that I job hunt, I have great difficulty conveying what I can do on paper. It’s really quite sad that employers are no longer interested in assessing people anymore. I think that there are one heck of a lot of people who can do one heck or a lot or things if given the chance. In those cases, acquiring a diploma is a formality that keeps your resume from getting shredded. Its important that students discover what makes learning fun. Science fairs can be hugely instrumental in fostering that sort or desire. How do you know if the person you’re interviewing for that tech job that needed to be filled will have an interest in doing their job well? You can tell right away if you ask them about their first science fair.

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/02/why-are-fewer-students-in-science-fairs.html

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