Britain gets shiny new science minister
Fresh from changing the climate in Defra
Ian Pearson has been named as the new minister in charge of science in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
The MP for Dudley South comes to the role from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where he was minister of state for climate change and the environment. He replaces Malcolm Wicks who oversaw science policy for the eight months after Lord Sainsbury stepped down.
As minister of state for science and innovation, Pearson will have control of a £5bn annual budget, and responsibility for the following:
- Business and science
- The research base
- The research councils
- The Technology Strategy Board
- British National Space Centre
- National weights and measures laboratory
- The Design Council
- The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, liaising with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
- Liaison with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
- Energy Technologies Institute
- Commission for Environmental Markets and Economic Performance
Enough to make anyone's head spin, right?
But he also faces a monumental task: to re-ignite an interest in science among students and the general public against a background of closing science departments, a lack of qualified teachers, falling numbers of students and courses to accommodate them, and what many consider to be a declining of the science syllabus.
New PM Gordon Brown has stressed the economic importance of science in the UK, and has promised to up the science budget to £6.3bn by 2010 as part of his drive to make sure Britain is not outpaced by the developing world.
According to his voting record on TheyWorkForYou, Pearson is an occasional rebel, defying his party line on critical issues such as the smoking ban. He liked the Iraq war, doesn't want an investigation into how it all started, and is very much in favour of ID cards.
Pearson himself has yet to issue a statement on his appointment. We have no doubt he is delighted, and looking forward to the challenge ahead. ®
Science in Britain
I can't imagine why anybody who is warm and upright would want to enter the education system to teach science in the UK. Come to think of it, I can't think why anybody who is warm and upright would want to enter the British education system at all. From where I stand (industrial physicist) teaching in the UK is no longer a profession. The minutiae of daily working life in teaching is determined by twats who wouldn't know which end to hold a stick of chalk but want to appear to the unthinking masses to be "improving education". They generally have chips on their shoulders because they failed their 11-pluses or left before taking A-levels or have shite grades & they resent excellence and intelligence as vile discrimination against The Thick. And we entrust education strategy to these tossers - no wonder current science and engineering education is one long drone of mediocrity - because mediocrity is the entire political aim - that's the whole point. Getting a C is all that matters for the political education targets (what else does "A-C" mean?) - and getting kids who are heading for a D to scrape a C absorbs the bulk of educational resource. F*** the kids who are good for A* s - we don't need to indulge the little bastards - can't be innate intelligence, must be overprivilege that we haven't yet ironed out. Here's to mediocrity!
Why would anybody with a 1st in Physics, Chemistry, Maths or Engineering - hell - why would anybody with a 3rd - want to teach alongside the hordes of Media Studies graduates, Ornamental Hermits & Lollipop-Ladies-turned-"Teaching-Assistants" who've been conscripted to read aloud from Science textbooks because they can vaguely remember seeing a test-tube at Primary School? Sod that. My son follows in my footsteps. I told him - by all means read physics, but if you decide to do it for a living - emigrate.
Community's attitude is problem
Let's face it. Interest in science will continue to decrease because the current intellectual atmosphere in the overall community turns off the majority of candidates for scientific study.
You can thank people like Richard Dawkins for this. The man is an enigma. His caustic attitude toward all but his inner circle of friends leaves him with only a small number interested in similar studies, so he goes on publishing sprees, preaching to an increasing ignorant and superstitious population.
have our own space agency yet?