Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: [Phys-l] Premed Requirements Commentary

----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Edmiston" <>
To: "Forum for Physics Educators" <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 1:28 AM
Subject: Re: [Phys-l] Premed Requirements Commentary

Wow, we physics teachers are really in sad shape.

We want premed students (and others) to learn to think critically, do
research (take and analyze data), and understand physics. Yet many on
this list have been saying (now and earlier) that our courses don't
succeed at any of those things.

Why don't we just quit and go do something else for a living?

Maybe we should, especially if after hearing certain people drone on about low scores on the FCI (Force Concept Inventory) we actually believe that our courses are ineffective. If we believe that over the last 2 centuries our efforts in the classrooms have produces bad scientists, worse engineers, and pitiful doctors. Then we should hang it up and in fact, the whole educational system should hang it up and let's go back to a simple apprentiship program. If you want to be a doctor, spend 20 years working with a doctor. That might actually work! ;-)

OR.....we can turn off the broken record of certain critics and judge for ourselves, based largely on the success or failure of our graduates, whether or not we have been effective. We can use our own experience, especially that of a broad preparation of general knowledge and skills, to evaluate the educational programs for certain degrees, certain professions. We can, and should, do so critically and try _some_ alternative paths to see if things can be improved. Yet we need to be cognizant of the old adage--If it ain't broke, don't fix it--and despite those who do drone on about it all being broken, we need to look to the end products, the scientists, engineers, doctors, and other professionals coming out of our educational programs. Are they really so bad? Have we really failed them? Why not ask them? We do that, and most students are VERY positive about their educational experience and the skills and knowledge they have gained. There are a few areas where we can do better--and are trying--such as elementary education (especially math and science education) but we need to realize that in the past we really didn't recognize the need for specialized programs in these areas. But, IMO, we have not done so badly.


Richard W. Tarara
Professor of Physics
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN
Free Physics Software
PC & Mac