Phil Mickelson, a man better known for his ability to, as Winston Churchill put it:
…hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.
recently made public to the USA’s Congress his enthusiasm for maths and science.
Whilst golfers hardly reflect the kind of demographic that needs most to benefit from good math and science education, it is nevertheless no bad thing that Mr Mickelson should make such a public plea. Sportsmen and women are too rarely associated with educational initiatives, and this is especially so in the UK.
Mickelson’s Teachers Academy, setup in 2005, trains selected teachers in new ways to convey the excitement of maths and science in creative ways. His testimony to Congress included the oft-heard but too-little acted on warning that Americans risk falling behind the rest of the world if they fail to train the next generation in the sciences and maths.
What about the UK?
This concern of losing out in the global race for ideas and skills features high in the minds of educational experts in the UK, but somehow the obsession with ‘knowing one’s place’ damns some people unfairly when they make public statements about areas seemingly beyond their remit.
In the UK we should applaud anyone who speaks out in favour of knowledge and learning, whether it’s Wayne Rooney or Stephen Hawking. And we don’t even need Mr Rooney to say earnestly how he relies on the advancements of science in his everyday life or understands the pleasure of calculating the perfect bicycle kick with trigonometry – we just need him to say that knowledge is its own good, and that sciences and maths are the keys to the world.