Education, not fabrication, please. . .


O.K., fair warning: this is a rant and likely to be a long one. However, it is one that I think may find some chord of resonance in whomever reads it. So, thanks for reading. . .

Something’s been bothering me lately.

Specifically, a video I recently watched, that can be found at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAeKXdLZhOg

And, if you’d rather see an official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoeMm0Tm95M&feature=related

My first problem is this: how can we expect our children, our future contributors to society, to be competitive in a globally connected marketplace when they must undergo the reversal of 12 years of brainwashing before they can be productive members of a modern society? Let me tell you, undoing one’s brainwashing is difficult, even when you did it to yourself.

My second problem is this: I have children, the oldest of which just turned 16. How is he supposed to respect his peers and not wonder when the crazy is going to slip out when he knows that most of his peers have their actions governed by a mythical, mystical sky-Daddy?

My third problem is this: we need more hard science graduates. We need to keep students engaged and excited about the actual reality of life around us and building the infrastructure we need, learning the math we need them to master. How can they be expected to do this at a collegiate level if the scholastic learning in their formative years was based on a curriculum that was modified in such ways as substituting one genre of music for another, or telling impressionable children that dinosaurs were on the Ark (not that the Ark should be being discussed at public school in the first place, but I digress. . ..)? They will be reeling from the betrayal, from the complete and utter dishonesty that was perpetuated by every  (or nearly every) trusted adult in their lives up to that point.

Believe me, I’ve been there. Sometimes, I still am.

Here is a delightful, if long, article that details the biggest problems with attrition in hard science fields: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/education/edlife/why-science-majors-change-their-mind-its-just-so-darn-hard.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all& Now, having read that, and watched the two clips above, do you begin to see what I see?
Since my associate’s degree is in Early Education, I suppose it comes as no surprise that my last link in this chain of future hopelessness if things continue as they are currently progressing should be an article detailing the problems with keeping children in younger grades interested in science, too. Too long has science labored under the titles of “uncool”, and “for geeks only”, and other disparaging titles. http://phys.org/news/2012-04-students-science.html this article has some great ideas. I hope that future- read, near future- educators can employ some of them to help our children grow and maintain a fascination for science.

How else are we going to help our planet, progress our species, and possibly colonize our near space neighbors, such as the moon or Mars?

‘Cause I’ll tell you what, my family and I have already discussed it and as soon as they open colonization of one or the other, we’re off this rock. I will be one of the first anthropologists in space, baby!

😀

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Categories: education, humanities, science, writing | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Education, not fabrication, please. . .

  1. i agree, but remember all disciplines of study are important to have. there is a real problem with associating education and profit because somethings are inherently less profitable. Many schools are closing down arts departments like african studies because of this 😦

    • I absolutely agree that the closing of arts and music and other such “non-academic” studies are a tragedy. I would never advocate for their removal for the curriculum of our public schools as I believe they offer immeasurable benefits to those who participate in them. I was a band member, a choir singer, a basketball player, a cheerleader, a “actor” (bah, I sucked!) and I wish that each and ever student out there had all of those opportunities. I just don’t want Texas to be able to blatantly rewrite history (“I’d like to strike ‘hip-hop’ and insert ‘country’ music (changed the quote ever so slightly to appease my inner grammar Nazi as I typed)” Really? Hip hop is really nothing like country, when we get right down to brass tacks, and that’s what I have a problem with.

  2. In one of the videos, you hear a Texas Board of Education member state that he wants to strike the words “hip-hop” from the text and replace them with “country”, referring to music styles. As the two genres are not the same in the least, it bothers me to hear that he is changing a textbook for the Texas public school system to reflect his personal preferences rather than leaving “hip-hop” in the text. I was also saying that I had changed the quote I took from the video clip. I apologize for all the typos in my first reply; it is time for a new keyboard.

  3. Hi Lyssa and a big hello from the other side of the Atlantic. I’m a teacher here in the UK and your post really struck a chord with me. I teach Religious Studies, History and Geography to 11-18 year olds and I have a first degree in Anthropology – there, that’s the basic bio stuff. Many of the 18 year olds I teach ask me why, if the US has a separation between Church and State (First Ammendment if I recall correctly), fundamentalist Christianity seems to have so much of a hold in states like Texas. It’s a difficult one to answer and I’m worried I end up fudging it with a lot of talk about state versus federal government control.

    Over here we don’t have any separation between church and state and Religious Education/Studies is a mandatory part of the national curriculum. Fortunately religious fundamentalism hasn’t (yet) got much of a hold and if you teach in a non-denominational school then (like me) you can teach evolution in the RE lesson and try to promote co-operation between the sciences and the humanities without the fundies trying to get you sacked.

    You’re quite right about the sciences. They are the main key to a survivable future. Nor should there be any serious clash between the sciences and religion. The Arab scientists of the early Middle Ages knew that. One of my colleagues manages to be both a practising Christian and a physics teacher – if he can demonstrate how the two can co-exist without contradiction anyone can.

    • I cannot explain why mainstream religion seems to play such a role in U.S. politics other than that it seems that we, as a nation, have not yet discovered that it is possible to be a good and moral person without adhering to one major religion. Instead, we find exhausted people barely paying attention to the news, the speeches, the ads, as they eat their dinner, collapse into bed, and sleep before doing it all again the next day. Our citizens are exhausted from trying to reach the next level of consumerism (it seems to me) and the fact that a “living wage” no longer means what it meant at it’s inception as a colloquial term here -that one person would be paid a wage for his or her labor that would provide sufficient income for an entire family. So, while the “American Dream” is a myth that has been sold to us, the steps to achieving it have been laid out for our citizens and in their pursuit of this non-existent goal, both partners usually work at least one job. This leaves little to no time for their families, let alone politics. So, they vote with their subconscious minds. All those messages the commercials and debates left behind, all those relentlessly haranguing messages “paid for by. . .” add up to voters who stand in the booth, staring blankly at the screen or paper until they finally cast their vote for whoever they can remember first. At least, that’s been my limited voting experience. Thank you so much for the thought-provoking comment. 🙂

      • Glad you liked the comment Lyssa – I’m new to this blogging thing and to a great extent still finding my feet.
        The US approach to Christianity is very much in my mind at the moment – my sister-in-law has joined a UK offshoot of a Southern Baptist Church. As my wife puts it, they are the sort of people who put the f in fundie. My wife and I are ‘godless amoral losers’ (direct quote). Of course, neither my sister-in-law nor her husband are prepared to have any sort of meaningful debate about their faith, nor are they able to articulate exactly why they’re so sure they won’t be on a southbound train themselves. But hey, that’s another story for another time.
        Reading the rest of your post made me smile grimly and nod – it’s a picture not too dissimilar to over here in the UK. We don’t have quite the saturation level media coverage but it works in more or less the same way. The public spending cuts of the last three years have bitten really deeply and private sector companies are not stepping up to create the jobs we need. Those of us in work are so preoccupied with keeping our jobs that we have little or no energy to properly inform ourselves on the current political and economic debates. This of course means that we are susceptible to scare tactics and fail to ask the one crucial question all thinking people should ask at election time:

        ‘Is this (insert derogatory comment here) lying to me?’

      • Ah, yes. Scare tactics. The preferred method of control from the parental unit to the Papacy and the Dictator (insert whichever tyrant suits your fancy here). It seems to be very hard to get away from threats of one sort or another- to our health, to our income, to our physical safety, and to our immortal souls- and I don’t think very many people who need too, ask, “Is this politician/other authority figure lying to me?” have the sense entitlement needed to ask the question.

        We have a general sort of etiquette rule here that says, “We don’t talk about religion or politics,” as a warning of the two biggest hot-button issues to avoid. Now, where I grew up (on the West coast) this rule applies to one’s family, too. You are generally expected to vote the way your parents did- though in my experience, parents didn’t usually talk to their children about politics and why they support one law or candidate and not a different choice. When a child’s political or religious view shifts away from the parental views, it causes a schism in the family. As the basic building block of the “American Dream”, a massive emphasis has been placed on the nuclear family. So, most people never question the values and morals they are raised with. Who wants to inflict that kind of drama on themselves or their loved ones?

        Whatever the underlying reason, there is a definite proclivity to vote with the group, a desire to be the same as one’s peers, and a real fear of going against the “flow”. I think that this desire to conform is the biggest contributor to religion in American politics. I think it is the biggest culprit to the general state of “WTF?” in American politics, as well. This is just speculation from my observations over the years and is vastly oversimplified, I’m sure. But, it makes sense to me.
        Thus, mainstream religion in American politics.
        From my perspective.
        🙂

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