Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The death of education.

Another birthday passed. Still, it's better than the alternative. Perhaps it's time to give some consideration to what I plan to do with my life. Then again, I think that way every year... for about a day.

I have to admit, my life is considerably better than the one facing this country's youth. They now leave school fully versed in Socialist dogma and the tenets of Climatology but barely able to read or add up. When I went to school, it was clear that we were there to learn. Political indoctrination was around, depending who was in power at the time but it was never so blatant and never so intense. Teachers were allowed to enforce discipline but now, any teacher who tries that is likely to end up in court on child abuse charges. Over half the schools in this country have a 'no contact' policy which means that teachers cannot lay a finger on the horrible little monsters in their charge, on pain of instant dismissal and arrest. The outcome was predictable from the start.

Even New Scientist, a magazine I thought was about science, push the Green God's agenda with religious fervour while decrying religion as mumbo-jumbo. They have reacted to calls that the actual scientific debate around global warming be taught in schools (rather than This Is So, just shut up and believe) by saying they are the same as teaching creationism.

So if you don't believe in the global warming religion, you are a heretic and must be burned. I have a very good book on the Spanish Inquisition they might like to read.

For me, creationism in schools is no problem as long as it's in religion class, not science class. It is religion, after all. I don't demand that all religions give equal sermon-time to 'alternative interpretations' so I regard it as unfair that religion demands time in science class. So yes, teach creation, but in the right classroom. Give the children all the information and let them decide for themselves which to go with.

I know, Archbishop Dawkins of the Church of Nothing would be incensed at that attitude. To him, people must be forced to not-believe for their own good. Just as Tomas de Torquemada forced people to believe in Catholicism for their own good. Exactly the same, but he'll never see it.

Let's face it. It really doesn't matter most of the time. Whether a plumber or a barrister or a policeman or even a medic believes in creation or spontaneous generation of the universe is of no relevance at all to their jobs. If you are a creationist, you're not likely to want a job studying evolution. If you take the scientific path, you are not likely to study for holy orders. It really does not matter in the slightest.

You can even be devoutly religious and not follow the '6000 years' thing. That was calculated by a man, not a god, and men are fallible.

So I would say, give all those children all the information from all sides and let them work out which they will follow. Just... in the right classes.

Now we have a government who demand that children shop their parents for smoking, believe without question in the Climatology doctrine, nag their families with utterly inaccurate and frankly dangerous assertions on salt and fat and meat consumption, and learn about all forms of sex from the age of five.

Writing and maths are not important any more. New Scientist and Archbishop Dawkins are fretting over creationism and demanding everyone follow science, but have failed to notice that nobody is teaching science any more.

When I was at school, the acceleration due to gravity was 9.8 m/s/s (how fast something accelerates when you drop it, no matter what it weighs). Now, children in school are being told it's 10 m/s/s because it makes the sums easier. So if you have gained weight, have no fear. You have not gained mass. Gravity has increased, which just makes you seem heavier.

This is far more serious than whether the children learn about God. They are being told factually incorrect information in science class, facts that apply to the here and now - and New Scientist is worried that they might learn something wrong about the past?

Where is the credibility of that science class when they change definite physical laws to make the sums easier? There is no child in the class without a calculator. I didn't have one when I learned to work out square roots and quadratic equations on paper. Calculators were not allowed in exams then. Make the sums easier? Calculators already do that. This is not about making life easier. It is pure dumbing-down of an entire generation.

A supermarket chain has complained that candidates for jobs are increasingly useless. A supermarket chain. What must the universities be thinking - oh, I forgot, they think only about money these days. Once places of study and exploration of science, they are now businesses where income trumps truth. The stuff coming out labelled 'research' nowadays might as well have been written by the funding company's marketing department and in some cases, probably was. There is little science left in universities, and less in New Scientist.

So we return to the days of Copernicus and Galileo, where individuals free of State interference perform real experiments with no outside influence forcing their conclusions.

Lucky for me, I'm already there.


Regina Richards said...

We homeschooled ours K-8. Not for religious reasons as people always assume, but because it was a richer, more interesting lifestyle. We belong to a religion that has no problem with the fact that God may have created the world using evolution or any other method. So we taught it all.

After 8th grade we sent them to high school. All three say that after homeschooling high school was an academic walk in the park. The high school workload is considerably more than in homeschool, but it's mostly busy-work. Most of it serves no purpose other than to produce a grade.

In homeschool, projects had to have real world application. One son's homeschool project for economics class means he drives a lovely red truck to high school that he owns himself. It wasn't provided by mom and dad. We simply showed him how to start his own business and earn the money to get it. A daughter's homeschool writing assignments produced actual college scholarship money in the bank. Another son's homeschool project resulted in two summer internships.

Education is supposed to have purpose. Imo it isn't simply what they are teaching or not teaching in institutional schools that is the problem. It's that there is no obvious, immediate, tangible benefit in learning the information.

Romulus Crowe said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

We listened closely in chemistry class and learned a lot about explosives in our own time. Woodwork/metalwork had obvious immediate applications. Physics too, because those practical lessons could be applied in the real world, and biology - how to keep bizarre animals alive and grow cubic tomatoes.

Maths, for me, was not so easily applied. I passed with an 'A' but that's because it was all logical and could be worked out even if you'd forgotten the original lesson.

To this day, I have not found a use for quadratic equations and probably never will.

Regina Richards said...

In homeschool math we showed the kids how understanding algebraic equations could save them big bucks when buying a house or car or throwing a party. We showed them how undertanding geometry could save them mucho time, cash, and headaches when planning to paint the house or redo the landscaping. It can also save them from being cheated by contractors who purposely over-order things like tile and carpet so that you pay for materials the contractor then uses on another job (and charges that other customer for them again).

But practical applications for quadratic equations? I'm stumped.

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