The Prison

Let’s follow the academic career of a typical scientist to see just exactly where they are coming from.

First up is elementary school where the scientist-to-be has a slightly better math aptitude. It is also possible for her to be a bit better at logic than her peers and this may help her in her other subjects, too.

Later on, in junior high she might encounter “science” classes where memorization seems to be everything. Naming and classifying is all they ever seem to do. It is not necessary for the scientist-to-be to excel at these courses but the scientist-to-be often does.

By grades 10 or 11 in high school she often encounters “real” science where the basics of what can be said by math and other logic systems are met for the first time.

At about the same time these “real” sciences are introduced, the student is met with electives for the first time. Curious about how the real sciences work, the scientist-to-be often uses all of her electives on science and math courses. In the last year of high school, she is almost forced to take all science and math courses due to entry requirements at University.

Often there are electives at University, too. But for the science major these are vastly outnumbered by the required courses and the prerequisites for the interesting upper year courses. Again, the scientist-to-be uses her electives on science and math courses.

Then comes graduate programs. The scientist-to-be takes graduate courses in her field-to-be while madly working on her Masters and PhD. There is almost no time for electives.

The freshly minted doctor throws herself into her work as a professor. Research grants demand expertise in her field and this demands she keep up with everything related to her field. This, surprise, surprise, leaves little time for other interests.

She finally achieves tenure, that most prized of professor accomplishments. She can take a sabbatical. She can learn new things. Her research can go in almost any direction she wants. And she finds out for the first time that science is supposed to be curiosity driven. She could go anywhere with her mind.

It’s like she’s been in a prison all her life and has now been handed the master key. She ponders opening up her cell door. She studies all the math and science she once took and decides to make step by step advances in the stuff she already knows.

She has the master key but refuses to use it. The prison is now voluntary. Or perhaps it is a case of Stockholm Syndrome.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet. Now in the Fediverse as
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