Are math and science really that hard
This topic has been on my mind for a while, really ever since my post on answering the question "what do you do?". When I answer this question I almost always get an initial response of that must be so hard or you must be really smart. And I've been thinking and thinking about why that bothers me. And I finally put my finger on it.
One of the reasons that we don't have more individuals (male and female) in STEM fields is that people think it is hard.
Why do people think this? I think it is just as hard to write a detailed, insightful 30 page English paper as it is to solve a differentaial equation. And the creativity required to solve research problems and identify interesting research topics certainly rivals that of an artist. Recently, female science professor chronicalled how her family thought she wasn't creative because she was a scientist.
I think we should start a campaign:
"Science and Math are NOT hard"
[Is anyone else flashing back to that math barbie?]. From now on when someone tells me that I must be really smart, or that science is hard, I plan to counter that opinion as vehemently as possible.
I think that math and science are 'hard' because our culture believes it so. Universities have difficulty recruiting students into math and science teaching (believe this came from C&E News, but can't remember), and there is considerable disagreement over what the proper combination of education and science/math training should be. Many teachers at the elementary school level have very little training in math or science. Many of these teachers themselves believe that math and science are hard, and pass this attitude along to our children. As successful scientists and engineers, we need to set the example. We need to convince others that our subjects are interesting, captivating, and rewarding, and when you are doing something that you love, it really isn't difficult at all.
What do you guys think?