One of things I rather like about the UK STEM engagement scene is that we haven’t started using the US phrase “Informal Science Education.” I’ve tremendous respect for education, but the word doesn’t capture all of what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years. So I get a little worried when I read articles like that by Clare Matterson at the BSA site.
Amongst a few sweeping statements (“Those between five and 16 years old are well served”?), these phrases occur in consecutive paragraphs:
“We need a basket of ‘killer facts’ to show that informal learning is not a ‘nice to have’, but a critical component of effective science education.”
“Adults are under-served, suggesting that messages about the cultural importance of science to adult society are neglected.”
Hang on: we’ve gone from ‘informal education’ to ‘learning’ to (what appears to be) ‘formal education’, and now to ‘culture’. Which is it?
We’re not going to progress the cultural aspirations of science by using the tools of formal education to measure that progress.
[—edited for clarity 11/4/2013]