Canada’s science-savvy fifteen-year-olds

Canada’s educators should be proud of the recently released results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The test examines the performance of 15-year-olds in science and placed Canada third in the world, after Finland and Hong Kong. Following after are Estonia, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, and South Korea. Britain is 14th, France 25th, and the United States is 29th.

This is especially welcome news given the ever-increasing importance of basic scientific understanding in contemporary society. In everything from making decisions about one’s own health to voting, having an understanding of at least physics, chemistry, and biology is increasingly necessary. Hopefully, the results of this assessment demonstrate that young Canadians are being well prepared.

More information is available through their website.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

5 thoughts on “Canada’s science-savvy fifteen-year-olds”

  1. Every time I see one of those scamps, she is spouting off about thermodynamics or Boyle’s Law!

  2. I disagree that having a basic understanding of physics and chemistry is important for a citizen today. The extent to which you have to trust the experts in science is so great that whether you know nothing or as much as an undergraduate, the difference between what you know and what you would have to know to evaluate the experts is proportionally about the same.

  3. Tristan,

    I disagree. People absolutely need to know the fundamental tenets of science: from conservation of energy and the second law of thermodynamics to what atoms and molecules are. They need to know what a hypothesis is and how it is tested. In short, they need to know enough to be able to spot a completely hopeless scientific argument. People also need to know about the nature of human disease and reproduction.

    Obviously, not everyone will want to learn enough science to engage with sophisticated questions. That said, people who are completely ignorant have been cheated of a reasonable educating providing a basis for sound future choices.

  4. “…that kind of skeptical questioning, don’t accept what authority tells you -attitude of science- is also nearly identical to the attitude of mind necessary for a functioning democracy. Science and democracy have very consonant values and approaches, and I don’t think you can have one without the other.”

    Carl Sagan, Talk of the Nation, 3 May 1996

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