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Should Physics Be Compulsory Post-11?

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The Importance Of Physics Whatever subject a student wishes to do, they will always be constrained by the laws of Physics. This is a very broad discipline, and I appreciate that it is not necessary to be aware of all of its intricacies. However, I do feel that everyone should know enough of it to be able to understand phenomena they are likely to see. This is not likely to be achieved by the age of 11, because only very simplistic models can be taught prior to that age. I hardly knew any Physics by this stage, and what little I did was mostly a collection of interesting facts rather than actual understanding. ...read more.


People only had a basic understanding of the world around them, based almost exclusively on their own experiences. Some of these theories were not far off the mark, but others were certainly completely wrong. Even in very recent times, theories like quantum mechanics underlie all computers and 19th century theories of electromagnetism still describe the methods used to generate the vast majority of our electrical power. With such a hugely important subject, it is easy to see why it should be taught to all students to some age. However, my opinion is that very little can be taught by the age of 11. ...read more.


Although logical arguments lie at the heart of all subjects, these are often clearer in Physics and Maths. Ability to think logically and clearly is one of the most important skills students could develop. This is especially important in a world facing severe challenges. One of the most pressing in the long term will be that of climate change. To have at least a basic understanding of how it works, it is almost certainly necessary to teach Physics far beyond the age of 11. Deciding and voting on whether certain schemes can reduce the problem will not be possible in a sensible manner without understanding the physical mechanism behind e.g. a particular method of power generation. Even for this reason alone, Physics should remain compulsory well beyond the age of 11. ...read more.

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