In January of this year, Australia’s education minister, Simon Birmingham, wrote a breathless press release about committing $6 million to a new app that would encourage students to participate in science and maths.
At this time, TIMSS 2015 had just finished testing the science and maths skills of students across a range of nations including Australia and Kazakhstan. We now know that while the performance of Australian students stagnated and has remained largely unchanged since 1995, Kazakh students have surged and overtaken them.
There are a number of exceptionally daft ways that we could respond. An app is just not going to cut it. In fact, any program that tries to fix things through ‘engagement’ is a red herring. Apps, talks from scientists, funky demos and theatre performances have the potential to create brief situational interest but this won’t necessarily translate to a long term interest in these subjects. The…
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