“Is learning science relevant to my life?”

Dear student,

Today in the chemistry lab, you asked me a question that every teacher dreads facing the most: “How is this relevant to my life?” I thought it was an excellent question but did not have an appropriate answer that could convince you. After all, why is knowing the use of phenolphthalein indicator in an acid-base titration any important to your life? As a student myself, I completely understand how you feel and have also wondered about the ‘big purpose of it all’ many times.

First, I told you how this particular concept could help you in the higher-level chemistry courses you may take in the future. You said that you were merely fulfilling a credit requirement and had no intention of taking any other chemistry course ever. This is why I am motivated to write to you today. Not to make you sign up for all the science classes, but to make you understand how any of this may add to your growth as a student, and most importantly, as a learner.

The way I see it, nothing we learn in our lives ever goes waste. The key is to stop looking for specific answers for every question and to start enjoying the learning process! To be blunt and brutally honest, no, not everything we learn is applicable to the modern world that we live in today. As you mentioned in our conversation, we can look up almost everything on the internet within seconds. What’s the point of memorising the elements in a periodic table or remembering their atomic masses? With the increasing use of technology and its easy accessibility, our brain cells are on their way to a vacation forever. This does not mean we should become robots for the rest of the years at school. What I am saying is that we need to be able to connect the dots and ask the right questions in order to make sense of everything. The point of science is to have practical approach towards things and cultivate critical thinking in everyday life.

Let me give you an example. Today you said, “What I learnt was simply to turn some solution pink and that’s it.” Well, I wanted you to ask, “Why did the acid turn pink in the presence of base and indicator? What happened to the molecules in the solution? Why didn’t this reaction work with other indicators?” You see, the point is not to know the answer to all these questions, but to simply ask these questions in the first place.

Learning science gives us a new perspective into the world we live in. Learning science may not directly affect our day-to-day activities, but it influences the way we approach and handle different situations. Science clears the emotional sensitive cloud that surrounds the vulnerable human mind and makes room for rational thinking. It is said that as humans grow older, we lose the will to learn new things and maintain a curious mind. Learning science ensures that a part of us never ceases to be a child ever again.

I hope this made sense to you and encouraged you to open up to learning science, even if that includes learning how to balance chemical equations.

Priya.

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2 thoughts on ““Is learning science relevant to my life?”

  1. I liked your title, and read your post. But, don’t agree with the conclusion:
    “I hope this made sense to you and encouraged you to open up to learning science, even if that includes learning how to balance chemical equations.”

    Firstly you have to imagine and not rely on what’s written in books.
    Books say ‘Prevention is better than cure’, but if you imagine, the question is ‘Why do most of the doctors stay in their clinic/hospital and work on just cure?’.
    so, our medical practice is incorrect and needs a change.
    Delhi is the most polluted cities in the world, and doctors don’t ask people to wear face mask that could be prevention; instead working on just cure. So, this learning science is relevant to my life.
    You should know what Thomas Edison thinks on this. Check my blog about page.

    1. I have never stated anywhere that imagine isn’t essential for science learning. It is. Books come into picture for factual understanding of a subject. Proven theories and facts about the world cannot be imaged, but have to be learnt with the help of resources like books and the internet.

      I don’t see how the issue of the medical practice correlates to any of this. Since you brought it up, let me explain something to you. You’ve asked “Why do most of the doctors stay in their clinic/hospital and work on just cure?” Doctors work on the cure or treat patients suffering from various illnesses because that’s what they are meant to do. Also, doctors are not responsible for transmitting viruses or inducing genetic disorders in people. Some of the diseases cannot be prevented and are mostly circumstantial based on geography, habits, etc. Blaming the medical practice that is dedicated to the well being of human beings is simply ignorant and not fair. Moreover, there are thousands of scientists and researchers out there who are genuinely involved in finding cures to diseases.

      Your sentences on pollution and doctors made no logical or grammatical sense to me.

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