“Rediscovering the Taste of Science”

18:45, April 9, 2022

Here is his platform. “We live in an increasingly complex, increasingly technological and ever more rapidly changing world. The Nobel Prize winner called the “Anthropocene” this new era in the history of the Earth, when human activity changes the basic balances of the planet: climatic, biological and even geological. Moreover, the acceleration of innovation, which industry helps to multiply, has such an impact on our lives and on our societies that at the same time there are endless opportunities for progress and countless risks of rejection, abuse or alienation. Big data, artificial intelligence, robots, and genetic engineering or nanotechnology are just a few examples – all these new advances can offer us both the best and the worst. According to one of these paradoxes of History, humanity has never been so powerful and at the same time so vulnerable to its own creations.

Faced with these challenges, the sciences are more than ever an important means of understanding our environment and the actions that have a positive impact on our destiny. Indeed, on a collective scale, the need for science is fundamental:

  • democracy needs citizens who can reason rationally and resist emotional dictatorship or selfish reflexes. In addition to the liberal arts, mathematics is an excellent school for teaching reflection;
  • the economy needs scientists and technicians to research, innovate, produce and distribute goods and services that are becoming more efficient and also more efficient in terms of resource use;
  • the planet needs researchers and scientists to objectify and understand phenomena and find the most suitable solutions.

In short, perhaps we have never needed a scientific culture so much. Under these conditions, it is to be hoped that mathematics, which is the universal language of science, will not remain reserved for the elite. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening, especially in France, where many indicators show a collapse at the general level. For example, according to the Timss 2019 study, which measures fourth grade math and science, France is now second to last among OECD countries and last in Europe! This is a disaster and needs to be fixed urgently.

Bringing math and science back into the core of fundamental education is a way to make it an inclusion knowledge rather than an exclusion factor.

First, we know the critical importance of early learning. Today, 86% of school teachers do not have a scientific education. If we want to arouse the interest of young students in scientific reasoning and mathematical concepts, strengthening the initial training of teachers and modernizing science pedagogy is certainly a necessary prerequisite.

Then we see that too early specialization pushes many young people to abandon science courses on their own, convincing themselves that this is not for them. This frustration particularly affects girls, who make up less than 40% of the workforce in science courses. Returning mathematics and science to the core of fundamental education is a way to make them inclusive knowledge, not an exclusion factor.

Finally, we can strengthen the science and technology foundation throughout life through education. In addition to primary and higher education, it is important to continue training and adapting employees for future work, helping them develop new skills. This is what Michelin is going to do with the Manufacture of Talents, its future training center in Clermont-Ferrand.

At this time of important choice for our country, let’s remain free and responsible citizens, mobile and competent professionals and people endowed with reason and critical thinking. To do this, we need to return science and mathematics to the center of our education, our culture, and even our leisure time. »

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