UNSW Dean of Science, Professor Merlin Crossley, has become patron of the Science Teachers’ Association of New South Wales.
Professor Crossley, who was appointed at the association’s conference on the weekend, said it was an honour he accepted with pleasure.
“Science is hugely important at UNSW. So science teachers are important to us as well,” he said in an address to the conference, which was held at UNSW.
“During this century - the Asian Century - science and science teachers will be needed like never before. It is vital we work together to bridge the gap between high school and university science teaching and explain what is required to equip the next generation for the future.”
Links between UNSW Science and STANSW have strengthened recently with UNSW scientists contributing to the association’s Science Education News journal.
Professor Crossley has also spoken at recent forums on science teaching - one held by the Royal Society of NSW in Sydney and another one hosted by the Office for Learning and Teaching and The Conversation in Canberra.
In his address to the STANSW conference he said most of the early great teachers - Socrates, Buddha, Jesus and Confucius – taught about culture, values, civilised behaviour and politics.
“Science didn’t really develop until the alchemists got going. Since my name is Merlin, I like to think that the wizard - Merlin of the Arthurian legend - was an early scientist and a highly respected science teacher.”
Today, teachers and researchers not only have to deal with an enormous amount of information about fundamental science, but also focus on social issues like food and water, energy, health and the environment.
“Those who look with vision to the future - rather than muddling through and attending to emergencies, while locked in the present - are not always put first by society,” Professor Crossley said.
“But it is more fun to look to the future, and the future of science is bright. As the Asian Century progresses and science progresses there will be plenty of opportunities for those who want to try new things and explore, discover and invent - in their science and in their science teaching.”