TED Conversations

desmond murray

Founder, CEO, Chairman, Building Excellence in Science & Technology

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is it necessary for students to complete both high school and college (total of eight years) before doing real research?

In many fields of human endeavor individuals are traditionally immersed early. In the sciences complete immersion in research has traditionally been delayed until graduate school. Why is science different? Why are our science education systems still continuing this outmoded practice? This seems to be a waste of human talent and productivity especially in a global economy driven by research, creativity, discovery and innovation. Does it have to be this way? How did it come to be this way?

While there is an increase in undergraduate research over the last few years in the natural and physical sciences, it is too often limited to college juniors and seniors. Why? Why aren't high school and early college students not routinely and broadly involved in real research curricularly and non-curricularly?

View my approach to early research participation (http://www.bestearly.com/) and give your feedback.

progress indicator
  • thumb
    Jun 6 2011: Its time to change the education system
  • Jun 5 2011: Hi Desmond, I had a quick glance at your website and I am happy to see that you hold this view and actually try to do something about it. It is a terrible waste of human creativity to force everyone down this long education tunnel. By the time the kids emerge on the other side, they are disillusioned, frustrated and disinterested. I have seen examples of high school students who have made important research breakthroughs as part of science competitions. However, often it is because they have parents who have access to laboratories and other resources at their workplaces, and who are able to encourage and guide them. This is not to diminish the work of many science teachers - it really comes down to the resources they have to work with and the confines of the curriculum within which they have to work. Outside of the school system I have engaged my own child in research and he has presented at international conferences, but that is only because of my influence and guidance. Major work is needed in schools for those students who are ready to excel early.

    On a different level, major work is needed on a societal level to deal with a host of other problems that present themselves in the educational system. I happened to be watching Jaime Oliver (Food Revolution tv show) in LA. 17 year old students thought that honey comes from a honey bear, cheese comes from macaroni and cheese, guacamole comes from apples. This left me speechless but this is really a separate problem. I guess it means there is a hierarchy of issues to contend with, overall.
    • thumb
      Jun 5 2011: wow. cheese from macaroni and cheese!!! incredible. obviously i do agree with your comments about the neccessity for engaging students early in research. let's hope that others (all stakeholders) will 'get it' and together we can start changing our education system.

      Thank you, Julie for getting this conversation started.