We may be living in the Information Age, but not all human settlements have been swept over by the wave of science and technology, yet. So why should every child, whether attending the most prestigious school in the country or a godforsaken one-room school in a village invisible to most maps with intangible prospects of a career in the sciences, learn science?
Teaching STEM subjects, when done the right way, does not mean simply teaching the names of the planets, or the elements in the periodic table. It is teaching logic, critical thinking and problem solving. It is nurturing curiosity and the right dose of skepticism while at the same time giving children the opportunity to be enthralled by and understand the wonders the universe. I will go as far as saying that every child has the right to marvel at the greatness of our cosmos. Science hates apathy of the mind, stimulates independent thinking and hence aids in the development of the full potential of the person.
This means that when all the details learnt at school, memorised equations, atomic numbers and what not, are forgotten, the science literacy that is left gives the knowledge and tools to make smart informed decisions. This is especially important when it comes to management of resources such as land, water, energy and biodiversity. All of which when managed properly lead to a better quality of life.
More than anything, science is a mind frame and a critical way of thinking. These are gifts that you cannot easily return back and can be used for free to fight propaganda and brainwashing by manipulative authorities. If this isn’t empowerment I don’t know what is.
What we should keep in mind is that great responsibility comes with disseminating knowledge. If this powerful way of thinking does not have a structure to support itself, it would be a futile attempt at empowerment. It is like showing the children the candy they cannot have, exhibiting what they are missing out on, rather than giving them a choice to take ownership of their lives. In such cases wouldn’t ignorance be bliss?