Why science fiction should be taught in the classroom

Science fiction and genre movies are extremely popular amongst high school students around the world.

However, a recent study conducted by the University of Valencia in Spain concluded that only 9 out of 31 (local) textbooks make some form of reference to science fiction as a teaching resource.

”A current concern is that students are no longer studying science and engineering and this trend is more common amongst females,” explained researcher Solbes Matarredona. “Science fiction can be useful in awakening the scientific vocation of younger students.”

According to researcher Jordi Solbes, a total of 578 specific references to science fiction were recorded in the context of the study, with the most notable being Stars Wars (90 references) Matrix (60), X-Men (41), I Robot (36), Spiderman (32) and The Day after Tomorrow (24).

”There were also 78 references that demonstrated confusion between science fiction and magic, action and adventure, since the likes of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings were mentioned with 59 and 50 references respectively, along with the Neverending Story and Mission Impossible,” said Solbes.

“[Meanwhile], some of the classic genre films [were] hardly mentioned. These include 2001, A Space Odyssey (with two mentions), Planet of the Apes (9) and Blade Runner (none).”

Interestingly, approximately 24% of the answers recorded by researchers perceived science fiction positively, while 31% spoke of advances in both science and technology. Furthermore, 47% had a positive outlook about scientists, 35% had a distorted or exaggerated outlook and 12% had an unfavorable outlook.

As such, some comments towards scientists included “they are selfish,” “they spend their life in the lab” upholding the typical image of the “crazy scientist” or “people who want to rule the world.” 

It should also be noted that scientists hardly make an appearance in the most popular films (Star Wars, Matrix) or are portrayed in a negative way in superhero films (X-Men, Spiderman, Hulk).

”Since texts books make up the bulk of what it taught, this tells us that, along with the scarce number of activities proposed by teaching staff, science fiction is hardly present in the classroom despite it being viewed positively by teachers… Some 38% of responses [to science fiction] directly refer to improved motivation and more interest in sciences amongst pupils,” Solbes concluded.