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Parents More Comfortable Talking Drugs than Science

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posted on Oct, 22 2009 @ 10:05 AM
It used to be that parents found that discussing the subjects of Drugs and Sex to be the two most awkward subjects with which to discuss with their children. Apparently those media campaigns in the 80s and 90s paid off because parents now would rather discuss those topics with their children than discuss the awkward subjects of Science and Math.

Parents More Comfortable Talking Drugs Than Science

The survey also found that American schools are falling far short of parents' expectations, with nearly 9 in 10 parents saying they believe the U.S. lags behind other countries in math and science, even though 98 percent of parents say these subjects are critical to America's future.

Parents clearly want to be part of the solution. Ninety-one (91) percent of parents believe parental involvement is crucial to their children's academic success, with nearly 9 in 10 (89 percent) saying that talking to their children about the importance of math and science in the real world would help improve their children's performance and interest.

Despite recognizing the importance of math and science, parents say they are uncomfortable addressing these subjects with their children. More than 50 percent (53 percent) of parents of teenagers admit that they have trouble helping their children with math and science homework. Parents of high school students are also more likely than parents of younger kids to express disappointment in their own ability to help their child with these subjects.

Granted this is the results of a survey/study done by Intel, but it is reinforced by the recent statistics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (which politicians commonly call the "Nation's Report Card") which was released last week showing that fewer than 40 percent of 4th and 8th graders in the United States are proficient in math. (And the baseline by which they are gauged as proficient is sub-standard compared to the rest of the 1st and 2nd world nations of the world!)

It's odd that parents would almost universally consider Science and Math to be so important, but consider the subjects more taboo than Sex and Drugs to discuss with their children.

And considering the Science and Math curriculum in Public Schools in the United States are lagging so far behind the rest of the world, you'd think that parents would take more time to discuss (and teach) these subjects to their children at home.

It becomes much harder to place blame on the extremist Christian Right that wants to take us back to the Dark Ages educationally in these fields when the majority of parents aren't doing any better themselves, despite an acknowledgment of their importance.

Perhaps it's time for us to regard Science and Math with a higher esteem, not talking about it with embarrassment and hushed voices in private. If those media campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s to get parents to talk to their children about Drugs and Sex worked so well, then maybe it's time we consider doing the same now about getting parents to talk to their children about Science and Math.

I don't know about you, but today when I get home I'm not going to ask my daughter the typical question of "How was your day at school?" but instead I'm going to ask her, "What did you learn in Science and Math class today?"

posted on Oct, 22 2009 @ 10:37 AM
reply to post by fraterormus

Although the sample size was not great (580) I wouldn't be surprised at all that this was a reasonably accurate snapshot of the population. Parents already working in math and science related employment would have a clear advantage, and could readily offer their help to their children.

It may have been 20 years for others since they studied in the fields. Maybe a refresher course offered by the community or community colleges would serve to help parents whose children would be attending H.S. in the near future--a combination course with math that is geared towards the sciences.

posted on Oct, 22 2009 @ 10:39 AM
There was a round of radio commercials here a while back promoting math and science skills in girls. Where the dad and the daughter are discussing why the sky was blue. Shortest wavelength and all.

I enjoyed this commercial but was always waiting on the follow up that never seemed to appear. The commercial ended with her asking her dad if he knew why the concepts of odd and even numbers were a philosophical illusion, and he says"why don't you tell me". But the commercial ended there. I was always disappointed they did not do a follow up, and at the time the website that a search turned up did not answer this question either. I have since forgotten the company that promoted the ad.

posted on Oct, 22 2009 @ 10:58 AM
I'm one of those parents that fail at discussing Mathematics with my daughter, but I do take every opportunity to turn it into a Science lesson.

This morning my daughter and I were talking about how atrocious her handwriting is. Her response was "Well, I do type 74 wpm and can text faster than you dad!". So, I asked her what she was planning on doing if the Earth passed through a Solar Flare powerful enough to disrupt all electronics. After we discussed why EMPs disrupt electronics, she wanted to know why Solar Flares haven't done this before. We discussed Solar Flare cycles, our Atmosphere, the Ozone Hole, and it eventually led to "Dad, how was our Sun born?". From there we discussed Jupiter (and other Gas Giants) as a failed Star (that didn't ignite) and she was able to equate it to seeds from a tree where only one out of hundreds will ever take root and become a tree. Before I knew it, she was off on a tangent and using her cellphone to look up all sorts of things while we were discussing these subjects...all because of commenting on her poor handwriting on the walk to school.

Everything that happens in our daily routine is an opportunity to discuss Science with a child. Look up at the sky and there are a hundred different demonstrative subjects you can discuss. Look at the ground and there are a thousand different demonstrative subjects you can discuss. Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are but the limited few.

When you pique a child's natural curiosity, then you are actually encouraging them to want to know and understand how the universe around them works. When you let them know that it is okay to talk about such things with you, then you create a fertile environment within which those interests can grow. When you provide them with the tools to explore their universe, it is inevitable that they become Natural Scientists.

Besides, what parent wouldn't be proud of their child asking for a Microscope or Telescope for Christmas instead of a Barbie or GI Joe?

posted on Oct, 22 2009 @ 11:07 AM
reply to post by fraterormus

Bless you, seriously.

I spent a good deal of my childhood asking questions and getting smart alec responses such as" it makes kids ask questions". I once countered this with "well I guess it works" and was given a good stare at, but it did end that lame response and they started to just say " I don't know".

Don't get me wrong my parents did try hard to prepare us, my dad was big on survival theory, and my mother was quite intelligent and well read. I just think they were unprepared for the depth of the questions I asked at times. I think they did far better then my school teachers at actually teaching. My parents have since gone back to night schools and have continued their education.

I believe refresher courses as mentioned here would be great, to help parents prepare to assist their kids more as they learn.

For me, thankfully I have the internet, and I can start researching every thing that pops into my head, and for that I am lucky.

posted on Oct, 22 2009 @ 11:44 AM

Originally posted by Seiko
I spent a good deal of my childhood asking questions and getting smart alec responses such as" it makes kids ask questions". I once countered this with "well I guess it works" and was given a good stare at, but it did end that lame response and they started to just say " I don't know".

For me, thankfully I have the internet, and I can start researching every thing that pops into my head, and for that I am lucky.

I like it when children ask me questions I don't know. Rather than give them a B.S. answer, I tell them "Well, I honestly don't know, but let's find out together.". This has the following benefits:

1.) Although it teaches children that parent's aren't infallible, it actually builds real trust.

2.) Respecting your child and their curiosity gains respect from your child in return.

3.) It gives an opportunity for you to bond with your child as you learn something new together.

4.) It teaches them the skills in which to find their own answers. As they observe how you discover things you don't already know they can duplicate that process for themselves.

The Internet has become my best-friend for such occasions. I do have an impressive Research Library of Books, but it is far quicker to reference something online, although one has to take care what sites they reference and to survey multiple sites to get an idea of what is credible and what is not. However, because of that, I allow my daughter unrestricted Internet access so she can do the same (I passively monitor her activity online, but I don't actively monitor it). She might spend an hour or two playing an MMO or watching shows on Hulu, but for the most part she's actually researching topics of interest online. She actually genuinely thinks the primary function of her cellphone is to look up information online rather than to use it to communicate by voice or text.

As far as refresher courses go, I think that's a great idea but it could be a highly impractical one. My job requires constant re-education. I carry home a half-dozen manuals every night I need to familiarize myself with. I earnestly don't have the time to spend learning something outside of my field anymore, even though I would like to. I'm sure that many parents would be in similar situations (and I have a kooshy desk job that isn't physically demanding to exhaust me after a day of work). However, even with a College Education, I'm finding that my knowledge base is grossly outdated. My daughter brought home some Chemistry homework and asked for help doing Atomic Notation and Valences. After 3 years of College level Chemistry I thought, no problem...piece of cake! I was floored when I saw what her textbook had. Atomic Notation has changed entirely in the past 15 years!!! It might as well have been in Chinese as far as I was concerned. So, I can admit that I need re-education in the form of refresher courses to help my daughter with her own school work...but just like many other Americans, finding the time to do such is not as easy as having the desire to do such.

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