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Short history of a bored Bryson

Bestselling author Bill Bryson this week called on science teachers to pay more attention to pupils who, like him, find the subject tedious.

He spoke out as the Royal Society of Chemistry prepared to send out 6,000 copies of his book A Short History of Nearly Everything to all secondaries in the UK.

Mr Bryson said he was inspired to write the book, which covers topics from the origin of the universe to evolution, by his own dull lessons in Iowa in the 1950s.

He said: "My only memory of science at school was of staring out of the window and waiting for it to be over. I was completely bored by the teachers writing formulae on the board. Physics and chemistry are germane to everyone's lives but the teachers always made them seem terribly remote."

Mr Bryson said he knew little about how science is taught in British schools today and did not want to tell teachers how to do their jobs.

"I would hope that schools look out for people like me who do not consider themselves particularly scientific and show them that there is more to it than equations and mechanics," he said.

His book stresses the human story of science, exploring the quarrels between scientists and their more eccentric behaviour.

The Royal Society of Chemistry bought more than 6,000 copies for schools at cost-price from Mr Bryson's publisher after he offered to waive his royalties.

Lord Adonis, the education minister, said he was convinced it would encourage more teenagers to study science. "I learnt something on every page," he said.

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