UK Education Secretary says students need to know how Newton invented thermodynamics [!]
I would like to say that Michael Gove shows a knowledge of what counts as basic science that is some 300+ years out of date, but that would be too kind.
Gove said there had been previous attempts to make science relevant, by linking it to contemporary concerns such as climate change or food scares. But he said: “What [students] need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton’s laws of thermodynamics and Boyle’s law.” [Times interview, reported here]
As many readers will know, but the Education Secretary clearly doesn’t, Newton’s laws describe the motion of individual particles. Thermodynamics is intrinsically statistical, and was developed over a century after Newton’s death. Boyle’s Law is not a basic scientific principle, although it is a corollary of the basic principles followed by (ideal) gases. And here we have someone ignorant of these elementary facts, in a position of enormous power, telling the schools how to teach, and the examination boards how to examine.
And in this same interview, he says he wants schools to form chains and brands, like businesses. Satire falls silent.