An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Education’

“Nessie” Disproves Evolution?

There aren’t enough hands to do enough facepalms for this one.  It is kind of poetic that this story takes place in Louisiana.  America’s south is becoming the great icon of stupidity in this country.  A new textbook, published by ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) has a rather interesting take on the theory of evolution.

Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the `Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? `Nessie,’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all.

Ugh.  One can almost feel the stupid just leaping off the screen, can’t you?  People wonder why the rest of the world thinks that we’re stupid.  Well, now you have your reason why.  And this isn’t the only example.  This textbook also contends that the concept of Godzilla actually came from the when Japanese whaling boats supposedly caught a dinosaur.

First, let’s address the obvious – that these arguments are beyond ridiculous.  Apparently, ACE never heard of the concept of shame or intellectual integrity.  Hopefully they are also not stupid enough to think that a sharp kid with access to the internet is going to be able to blow holes in this a mile wide.

Second, while this is one the stupidest documents we have seen in a long time, and also a textbook, this textbook isn’t going to public schools.  It is going to private school.  The children who attend these institutions, which apparently don’t care that they are teaching them outright lies, are there because their parents paid for them to be there.  If the parents want their kids to be taught outright lies and completely nonfactual information, then they get what they paid for.  I guess they want their kids to be stupid, which is fine.

Third, it is good for the rest of us that these people are doing this.  The rest of America, those of us who went to public school, are being taught real science, with real evidence, and real data to back it up.  We have been taught to think critically. We need these kinds of people so that we can not only have stupid people to laugh at, but also to have people that can continually drive the pursuit of knowledge.  Disproving ignorance is a great drive to improve the quality of our science education.

But there are some more serious aspect of this document to examine.  Other parts of this textbook say that the Ku Klux Klan was a very influential organization that is trying to –

be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross … In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians.

Yeah, they also killed people and brutalized a community simply because they didn’t like them.  They were such peaches, weren’t they?

Recap: Accelerated Christian Education has no shame, nor any amount of integrity to print this garbage, and children being sent to private schools are learning complete falsehood.  And this is proof like no other that people who argue for the privatization of education isn’t the answer.

Actual science has never looked so good.

The Hammer of Failure

There is a rather ugly lesson that isn’t really shown in television or movies.  It is a lesson that people learn, and not a lot of people like.  The lesson that a person can try their hardest, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to succeed.  It’s really harsh to hear, but it’s true.  At the same time, while that lesson isn’t being taught, there is something that is being used as a hammer against the entire population – the hammer of failure.

The idea is that advisors, counselors and what have you will tell you that if you don’t do this and that and so on, you are going to be a complete and utter failure.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I have and am still hearing about this now.  You see, I am a smart guy.  I’m not an Einstein genius, but I am pretty smart.  Still, for being intelligent, I was not the best student.

Growing up, I got told by so many people who I was going to fail.  My parents said that I should just drop out of high school.  In hindsight, that might not have been the worst idea.  Public high school in America is a joke, and the punch line is that it is the best that so many of us have.  All the talks, all the pressure, and the endless line about how one is going to fail is just absolutely crushing sometimes.

But this is the tool that our academics seem to think is the most effective way to motivate kids.  It is pounded into their heads, day after day, and there are plenty of smart kids who just don’t do well in school, either because the way things are being taught to them doesn’t mesh with their personalities, or because our academics seem to think that there is a one-size-fits-all test that can determine how smart they are which clearly isn’t what its name implies.

People think that if we tell kids enough that they are going to fail, they are going to get movitated to succeed.  The reality is that if that were ever true, schools would have really high scores and grades.  But, as with issues like the right to bear arms or freedom of speech, the answer aren’t as clear-cut and neat as we would like to think they are.  The fact is that things are a lot more complicated, and students are not all cut from the same cloth.

The fact is that our education system is failing on such a monumental level because educators and the systems they are in have failed to realize the most critical thing that they should – each student is different and they don’t take in knowledge the same way.  Ironically, I am a person who learns by doing.  The only classes that I have really taken something from are the ones where I was out in the world working to create something.  But most college courses are NOT that.  They are a 3X structure – you go to class, have a big test in the middle, and a big test or project (or both) at the end.  That’s it.  That’s now how I and a lot of people that I know work.  I have a friend who is going to be one of the youngest surgeons in this country.  He is a brilliant mind, and has busted his ass because he doesn’t learn like their 3X structure works either.  Thankfully, he has had the luck of having professors to understand his dilemma, and work with him.

We need to stop hammering in that kids will fail if they don’t follow a certain path or do this or that.  Now, before you start thinking it, I am not one of those people who says that It Gets Better.  That is an outright lie, and we know it.  I merely believe that students are not as stupid as we give them credit for, and although some are, I think the bulk just haven’t found their niche.

The benefit is that in the modern age, finding a niche is so much easier, because the internet is open to all walks of life and ways of thinking.  Online, more and more opportunities are growing for more and more people, and while there are a lot who still fall through the cracks, the growth of the internet means that more people will have a way into a space, provided that they are a little proactive in making things happen.

But this attitude of – you’ll fail, you suck, needs to go.  Any educator who uses it, disregard them as a narrow-minded idiot, because that is what they are.  There will be instances where one will fail, and there will be times where a person can try their hardest and not succeed, but here’s the kicker – when we tell kids that they will get better, and that they will find a way, they will keep wanting to try.  When parents and teachers keep telling them that they will fail, they will, because they won’t have the self-confidence to even bother trying, and that is a crime, and absolute crime.

Education needs to get smarter.  Though that may be being a little too optimistic.  America, a nation that makes war against smart.

Florida, as well as America, Wants Stupid Kids

Americans should feel ashamed, and the sad fact is that most of them probably have no idea about this.  The Florida Board of Education has recently made a decision to dramatically lower the standards on the writing exams that they give 4th, 8th and 10th grade students at public schools.  This comes on the heels of their last test periods showing dramatic failure of the writing portions.  Among the cited reasons from educators as to why this happened is because these tests now count punctuation and spelling, but hadn’t done so before.

First, a test administered to 10th grade students didn’t test punctuation and spelling?  The levels of failure for such a fact are so ridiculous.  The fact that our education standards are so low is appalling.  This country’s education system is a joke to the rest of the world, as it should be.  The students are not held to anywhere near an appropriate standard.

One of the first problems is that we think that a test is going to tell us what we need to know about a student.  Florida is a perfect example of how that is wrong.  Gauging the success of schools and students solely by what we think is a “one size fits all” test is beyond ridiculous.

A lot of people will blame the teachers for this failure, which is totally unfounded.  Teachers at public schools in this country are among the most underappreciated groups of people in this country.  There was a great sign at a rally talking about how much work a public teacher puts into their job for which they get no respect.

If teacher just worked and 8 hr. day, your student would get:
NO graded papers
NO letters of recommendation
NO tutoring
NO school plays
Fewer coaches
NO IEP
NO concerts
NO parent emails, online grades; H.W.

And that’s the absolute truth of the matter.  Teachers are working very hard to do a job for which they won’t get any respect.  The failure of this lowering of standards falls many places.  The first is the parents.  Parents in this country hardly ever hold their children up to any standard.  It all starts at home. A kid who feels like their parent supports them will work harder at school.  The next is the education system.  Teachers aren’t able to teach to their own style, aren’t able to put learning above testing, so instead of getting integrated places where knowledge can be gained, we have teachers teaching to tests and students who clearly don’t understand how those tests work not able to get it.

When one looks at this issue, along with the fact that the educators in this country are treated like America’s dog, it is becoming increasingly clear that no solution for ground-up reformation of this country’s education system is ever forthcoming.  It will be just another issue that we can chalk up to a bureaucratic mess that will never be solved.

America is a nation which is failing, consistently.  Our infrastructure is falling apart.  We don’t have universal health care.  There is a war on drugs that has made America famous for having 25% of the entire world’s prison population.  We are spending more on our military than any other nation combined, along with being involved in pointless wars that are giant iron balls around the ankles of America’s economy.

This is another issue which is such a gimmie, such an easy thing to grab, but this country won’t do that.  It is so pathetic how this country’s government can’t even do this.  But as Cenk was saying on The Young Turks, this is a macro problem.  The culture doesn’t demand execellence.  The culture of this country is accepting of stupidity, accepting of failure, accepting of the worthlessness of the people in it.

Once again, as George Carlin put it –

Garbage in, garbage out.

America, our youth are getting stupider, and we are falling further and further behind the rest of the industrialized world.  Do you even care?

Probably not.  So You Think You Can Dance is on.

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