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Academic Perspectives/Panel Discussion

Academic Perspectives/Panel Discussion

This video was recorded at MIT Industrial Liaison Program. In this wide-ranging discussion, panelists seized on redesigning science education as a way of ensuring the success of systems biology. The first challenge lies in improving instruction in the earliest years. David Botstein said, "K-12 education has never been that great…(kids) don't need to know everything in excruciating detail….Anything they find out by themselves is worth 10 or 20 of anything you tell them to do." Mark Kirschner remarked, "What's left out is appropriate kinds of inquiry, and at the appropriate age." Leroy Hood spoke with master teachers and "understood that the worst way to teach was lecture." Another obstacle lies with the culture of higher education, where scientists are rewarded for focusing on a single specialty and for research, not teaching. George Poste pointed to "rampant egotism that's destructive," preventing collaboration. Peter Sorger commented, "Autonomy is given to faculty members in classroom. We need expectations. Students will gravitate to those courses that are taught well." A major hurdle for budding systems biologists involves embracing a larger biology. Matt Scott spoke of building "excitement about things beautiful and mysterious." Other panelists expressed hope that the diversity of living things would generate a passion not only to understand the fundamental interdependence among all living things but to preserve species as well.

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