‘Correct science’ requires ‘correct grammar’…

Ian Shaw insists that “…we must teach our aspiring scientists to communicate well to diverse audiences because if their science is to be useful, people, at all levels, have to know about it.” (p.13)

He sees the abrupt communication style typical of electronic communication as detrimental to the development of strong communicative abilities in the field of science. Children who only experience digital communication of this kind, he writes, “evolve their language and communication styles in a truncated, short, abrupt genre that is as good as useless as a medium for communicating precise science.” (p.13)

“There are two important facets of science communication,” he points out; “communicating to other scientists; and communicating to the public.” (p.13)

Communicating science to the public, he explains, “has become more and more important in recent years. Partly because there is a great public interest in science, and partly because science is expensive and scientists should tell the people who are paying for it (e.g., tax payers) what it all means and that it was worth the money. The style of this science communication is much more informal and a lot less precise.” (p.13)

Shaw is adamant that poor grammar and sloppy writing is a problem for the science teacher – and not just for the English teacher – and he advocates the penalising of students for bad grammar on science assessments: “I urge my science colleagues in schools not just to teach science, but to teach the grammar and English necessary to communicate science properly….” (p.14) “Help science students to recognise the importance of communication and the different styles of communication necessary for different audiences. By doing this you will increase the quality of science communication in the future and so promote a better understanding of increasingly complex science ideas. This, in turn, will help people to make reasoned decisions about the science that touches their lives, rather than relying on, often incorrect perceptions.” (p.14)

Sounds fair to me!

Ref: Ian Shaw (2012) Are science students taught to communicate? New Zealand Science Teacher 129, pp.13-14


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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