Today the Science Media Centre carried an item about the just-announced Prime Minister's science prizes (blogged about here by Peter Griffin). These awards (for a top research team, an emerging researcher, the MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year, a science teacher, & a science media communicator) carry a lot of money. They're sure to be hotly contested & will draw out & showcase some of the best that New Zealand has to offer. And this is a Good Thing.
But at the same time, we hear that next year, primary schools won't get any additional support for teaching science (or music, or the arts): any additional funding they receive will be tied to bedding in & supporting the new national standards in numeracy & literacy (the three 'R's). Yes, our children need to be literate & numerate - but we also need to be ensuring that schools can help them to see the passion, creativity, joy & excitement of science. Where else are our future emerging scientists going to come from?
(And besides, literacy & numeracy aren't stand-alone subjects; they can be taugjht across the curriculum. Think of that report you had to write on a current issue, or the Schol examiner's comments about the need for good communication skills!)