The 21st century is on the lookout for more Sarabais, Ramanujans and Kalams and this was the backdrop for the Panel discussion on “Pure Sciences: Challenges and Emergence” conducted by the School of Education on August 22, 2014. The event commenced with the lighting of the lamp and the invocation song. This was followed by the welcome address by Professor Jose Cherian HOD, School of Education who introduced the eminent panelists and felicitated them with bouquets. The moderator of the panel discussion Dr. Srikantaswamy started the proceedings by briefing the audience about the historical developments that led to an increased emphasis on teaching of sciences in schools resulting in cognitive stress which in turn gave birth to inter disciplinary studies.
The first discourse was by the panelist Dr Ananthanarayan, Professor and Chairman, Centre for High Energy Physics, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore. Ananthanarayan started by highlighting how the fruits of studying pure sciences have a long gestation period for career development. With a lack of role models to motivate students to walk down this dreary path it’s no surprise that students opt for applied sciences over the pure sciences. He suggested that the emanation of the pure sciences is possible through reforms of government policies and an increase in the number of colleges offering pure sciences.
The second discourse delivered by Professor Vinayakumar, Principal, KLE Pre University College, Bangalore started with the quote of Dr. Manmohan Singh about how the best minds of our country are not turned towards science and those who do don’t stay for long in this field . Professor Vinayakumar shared how poor livelihood is the main factor which deters people from choosing pure sciences. With no significant scientific inventions in this era, science appears to be a study of past discoveries with no connection to the present or future. The chasm between invention and practical applications is so wide that sciences being taught in schools remain abstract concepts for students. Our fast moving society has failed to teach patience to its young minds, an imperative to studying science. Keeping these factors in mind, he suggested some remedial measures like assuring jobs to those pursuing masters in pure sciences.
The third discussion was by Dr Hemamalini Assistant Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University Regional Centre, Bangalore. Dr Hemamalini highlighted the importance of the role of teachers in the emergence of pure sciences. According to various researches conducted by her, she enlightened the student teachers about the importance of being effective teachers. There are very few teacher trainees opting to take up education in pure science. This number is only declining with time. Therefore it comes as no surprise that students now a days are not inclined towards studying the pure sciences. This mindset can be fought by investment in systematic recruitment of teachers, identifying talented and passionate teachers and appointing them as ambassadors to students.
The last panelist of the event was Ms. Justy a 10th standard student from Christ School, Bangalore. With ambitions of becoming an astrophysicist, she shared with us the beginning of this dream and her journey up till now. With stories to emphasize her points she encouraged the audience to always follow their dreams and not the dreams of the people around them. Keeping this as her motto she has been able to keep the light of following a career in the pure sciences burning till now.
Dr. Srikantaswamy took over the remaining proceedings by mediating the questions posed by the audience and concluding the question and answer round by boosting our morale through his life experiences. Dr. Kennedy Andrew Thomas concluded the panel discussion by summarizing the views stated by the panelist, followed by the vote of thanks.