The urgent need for microbiology literacy in society: children as educators

Kenneth Timmis*, James Timmis, Franziska Jebok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalEditorialAcademicpeer-review


Microbes and their activities have pervasive influence and deterministic roles in the functioning and health of the geosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, i.e. in nature. Microbiology can be considered a language of nature. We have argued that the relevance of microbes for everyday personal decisions and collective policies requires that society attains microbiology literacy, through the introduction of child-relevant microbiology topics into school curricula. That is: children should learn the microbiology language of nature. Children can be effective transmitters of new and/or rapidly evolving knowledge within families and beyond, where there is a substantive information asymmetry (witness digital technology, social media, and new languages in foreign countries). They can thus be key disseminators of microbiology knowledge, where there will be information asymmetry for the foreseeable future, and thereby contribute to the attainment of microbiology literacy in society. The education of family and friends can be encouraged/stimulated by home assignments, family leisure projects, and school-organised microbiology-centric social-education events. Children are key stakeholders in family decisions. Their microbiology knowledge, and their dissemination of it, can help inform and increase the objectivity of such decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1303
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Issue number5
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020


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