Too Left That We’re Left Behind, or, A Slice of Master Student’s Life

I met Dorothy yesterday who just returned from Indonesia to take her Ph.D. in UCL Institute of Education. We catch up each other stories until we somehow end up talk about why IoE, which labelled as the best university in education in the world, went bankrupt.

Dorothy told me that her professor told her and other students that “we’re too left that we’re left behind”. This statement is very interesting for me as IoE master student because I did not even realise the ‘left’ vibe of the institution.

Call me shallow, but it really is the truth. I thought what they have been given us students is simply the ‘latest’ development in education field, or, specifically ‘science education’ world. Because they always managed to present both sides of the story. I thought that I choose to be like ‘this’. By ‘this’ I mean: I teach science, but I don’t think it is the only way to search for the truth. I believe that everything is built on a certain perspective, which I would argue that however right it has on predicting some stuff, which prediction could still be wrong. Science is simply one model that could be replaced by another model if some transformation of perspective is needed. For example, mechanical physics to quantum physics.

However, I remember several days ago I read an article stating that evolution is a fact. The article went all the way explaining how the word ‘fact’ is used in science. A claim could be wrong, but only to a very small degree that people could just ignore it. Well, that was convincing.

But then I met Eleanor today. My classmate in Foundation of Science Education course. We talked about our latest assignment and she chose to take a stand on the philosophy of science, and criticise Bernstein for his Baconian view of science, claiming that it is out of dates (agree). Somehow I managed to slip what Dorothy said to me to her, and told her that maybe we all from science education MA has been unconsciously indoctrinated by the institution. I liked her response.

‘Well, that’s good. I’m a hard left. I’m always left.’ And surprisingly, she told me something about her view of the word ‘facts’ in science. For her, ‘fact’ in science is not really a ‘fact’ because the way the word is used in science is different. There is always a little possibility for it to be wrong, and that has been ignored for so long. On this remark, I cannot help myself to remember the discovery of our solar system planets.  Scientists in the past ignored ‘problem’ with Newton’s equation, claiming some case to be exceptional.

On this remark, I cannot help myself to remember the discovery of our solar system planets.  Scientists in the past ignored ‘problem’ with Newton’s equation, claiming some case to be exceptional. However, when Einstein proposed to think about physics in a different model than Newton, only then the exceptional cases could be explained without making new equations, or another ‘exceptional’ case. This story shows that scientists ignorance and claim of facts blinded them. Thanks to Einstein who refuse to accept other scientists’ agreed facts and made a new model of science which managed to explain the world better. The point of this rambling is, it is important to cautiously use or accept what is claimed to be a ‘fact’.

The point of this rambling is that I come to a conclusion: it is important to cautiously using and accepting what is claimed to be a ‘fact’. And for me, this is also a sign, a moment of realisation, that I have been accepting the idea of me not being ‘blinded’ by ‘science fact’ anymore, that I have been ‘enlightened’, unlike the scientists. This is so clear because as you see, I have been exposed to two definitions of the word ‘fact’ in science which actually have no difference except the ‘ignoring’ part.

Well, I know that I prefer not to ignore the small probability of science to be wrong, which clearly shows that I might now have become a hipster as well. I don’t know to what extent that this actually comes from my own belief and values, but thanks to my institution, now I get this far.