Franklin's legacy squandered 1

February 25, 2005

It is a crying shame that chemistry has been dropped from the undergraduate programme at King's College London, the alma mater of my aunt Rosalind Franklin, with the consequent loss of the partnership with the National Institute for Medical Research ("King's punished for closure", February 18).

The demise of chemistry can be traced to the devastating effects of the research assessment exercise and to the way science is taught in schools. Secondary school science is now taught and tested in soundbites. Pupils have to learn "facts" for a battery of exams leaving little time for an engagement with and enjoyment of science. Youngsters are denied the excitement of science that Franklin's generation enjoyed. The demands of the RAE drive academics away from classrooms and cut vital courses. The demands of the test-driven educational system demoralise learners.

We desperately need physicists and chemists. We desperately need a challenging and rigorous education system with exciting learning experiences. Perhaps King's education department, housed in the Franklin Wilkins building named after my aunt, should address these issues.

Shirley Franklin
St Martin's College, London

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