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Just the good students turn away

In his today’s newspaper column Sebastian Turner 1, initiator of the Falling Walls Conference 2 (“leading thinkers at the intellectual frontier” ), writes about the lack of qualified professionals in Germany. As part of that he mentions studies done by Manfred Prenzel 3 from the Munich Technical University, that are worth to also be shared with the English-speaking knowledge community.

While studying the German school system, Manfred Prenzel found that for 42% of the investigated students one year at school did not result in learning advancements. They had exactly the same knowledge and skills as 12 months before.

Manfred Prenzel did dig deeper into it, esp. for the subject physics, and found even worse. Those students who had shown noticeable learning progress in physics during one year, unexpectedly and remarkably lost interest in this particular subject. In other words, those physics students who learned most also abandoned the field above average. Just the good school students turned away. This could be seen as the more knowledge is hammered into students heads, the more interest is hammer out.

The scientists did some video analysis of the classes and finally realized that teachers nearly never spoke about why something has to be learned. Good students nevertheless learned … but only as long as they had to. Once they left school, motivation was gone, interest had been killed, finally resulting in a home-made lack of professionals (physicists, engineers e.g.).

So, the drying out pipelines for young professionals in some fields of industry can also be a wake-up call to deal less with “dressage” and rouse more interest. Interest is the basic principle of knowledge, the driver to knowledge.

1 Original article by Sebastian Turner published in the German newspaper “Die Welt”: http://www.welt.de/print/die_welt/debatte/article13394902/Die-Fachkraefte-Mangel.html

2 Blog of the Falling Walls Conference: http://www.falling-walls.com/blog/en/

3 Homepage of Manfred Prenzel at the Munich Technical University: http://www.ebf.edu.tum.de/en/lehrstuhl/manfred-prenzel/

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