In a blog post at the Washington Post, the father of a high school boy wonders why his son has to take a chemistry class when he doesn't want to and will never become a chemist. The father, David Bernstein, writes that, yes, it is important to expose students to different subjects and that his son should learn analytical skills through a chemistry class, but he argues that there are different ways to get a taste of science and learn skills.
"When you force my son to take subjects [with] which he doesn't connect, you are not allowing [him] that same time to take a public speaking course, which he could be really good at, or music, or political science, or creative writing, or HTML coding for websites," Bernstein writes. "Maybe he will learn something in chemistry somewhere along the way. But he will lose out on so many other more important opportunities, and so will our society, which will have deprived itself of his full contribution."
In a rebuttal, S. Raj Govindarajan, a graduate student at the University of Akron, writes that student should take chemistry — even if they are not interested in it — as it has a number of practical, everyday applications. Govindarajan notes, though, that the curriculum may need to be revamped to "instill practical knowledge, curiosity about the world, and an appetite for at least understanding scientific achievement and its necessity/implications."
"People don't have to become scientists if they don't want to, but they should have a fundamental understanding of scientific concepts," he adds.