Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Don’t Rush the Science Curriculum

By Lesley Parker and Alan Finkel

The rush to implement the new Australian Curriculum is jeopardising the future of science, engineering and maths education.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in schools is essential for a prosperous, informed and scientifically and technologically competent nation. But Australia needs a significant and immediate investment in STEM teachers as we face a critical period in the development and implementation of the new Australian Curriculum. The investment in teachers is necessary to compensate for previous underinvestment.

Much of the past focus has been on motivating students to pursue STEM studies and careers. Hundreds of initiatives have been implemented but the impact of all these efforts has been frustratingly little. Enrolments in the so-called enabling subjects – physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology – appear to have stabilised at a low level without recovering from the significant decline of the past decade, while the performance of Australian students in international tests in science and mathematics has slipped and the list of projected shortages in many workforce areas dependent on STEM continues to grow.

More support for teachers is the key. STEM education researchers agree that the teacher is the most important factor in influencing student learning. The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers, and the only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction.

However, the only way to improve...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Lesley Parker is Chair of the ATSE Education Forum. Alan Finkel is Chancellor of Monash University and a former Director of ATSE.