Tedious science

September 25, 1998

The two respondents (THES, September 18) to Simon Jenkins's article (THES, September 11) failed to address one of his main points - that students have been voting with their feet and choosing to avoid science at A level and university.

I was one of the first in this retreat. In the mid-1960s I studied chemistry in one of the UK's leading departments. It was the most oppressive and unfulfilling experience of my life. Three years later I went to Sussex University to study English and it was like an intellectual paradise. Only when I read Thomas Kuhn's description of science education as a "dogmatic initiation in a pre-established tradition" did I understand what had been perpetrated against me.

Mathematician and philosopher A. N. Whitehead once observed: "Science repudiates philosophy: it has never sought to justify its faith." Maybe this is why many young intellects are choosing to repudiate science itself.

Christopher O'Hagan

Dean of learning development Centre for educational development and media, University of Derby

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