An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘School’

“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.

You’re Not Special?

When I first saw the speech that will be discussed and saw the title, my reaction was similar to your own.  Calling high school students not special, that seems really harsh.  But when one watches the video, and really thinks about what is being said, there is a lot of truth to this, and it is kind of hard to look at, especially when examining America as a whole.  The speech was delivered by an English teacher, David McCullough Jr., who teaches at Wellesley High.  This school is in Boston.

It’s not a mystery that America really panders to its youth.  The “It Gets Better” campaign, the need to not make any student feel bad ever, the constant assurance that if a kid works hard, everything will be okay, and that they are just the best thing since sliced bread is all over this culture.  It’s not a mystery that Americans are force-fed this day in and day out.

But McCullough makes a lot of very good points.

Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians … 37,000 class presidents … 92,000 harmonizing altos … 340,000 swaggering jocks … 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs…

A good point.  These numbers add up after a while.  While America’s education system is a joke compared to the rest of the world, perhaps that irons even more the fact that so many get through the system that it takes the special away from them.  They are all given a test that in some states, like Florida, are getting stupider and stupider.

All over the country, more and more students are being told about how great they are, even when they have accomplished nothing, and aren’t looking to accomplish anything.  Graduating from and American high school is no great achievement.

But yet this gives me pause, as well.  I have conflicting feelings.  What is special?  That is an interesting question to ask McCullough.  He seems to believe that it is people who have real accomplishments.  Though he also credits those who follow their passions with all their heart.  If one is going to say that a group of people isn’t special, it only stands to reason that they have standards as to what makes on special.

There was a comment on The Young Turks YouTube video about this, stating that every accomplishment does serve a purpose.  So perhaps the better fact of this speech is that it has gotten people talking.

McCullough says that to do what one does for the purpose of passion and belief of its importance is what is truly an achievement, along with actually accomplishing something.  He calls the “relevant life” an achievement.  This, however, brings up another question – what is relevant?  Who determines it?  How can one be relevant?

A person makes an incredible new car design that saves gas and makes no emissions, we obviously would consider that an accomplishment.  What about the person who discovers a way to control your entire home with electronic interface?  What about the guy who designs a new kind of vacuum that is ten times better than the other vacuums?  Where is the line on what is relevant or not?

Perhaps the greatest thing that McCullough has done is that he has done with this column tries to do every single day – get people to think.  His mission was to get the seniors who were graduating to take a really critical look at themselves, and from most reports, he was well-received.  America does need to really look at what an entitled nation we have become.  But at the same time, don’t lose sight of the fact that there are kids who have trouble with school, and getting out is an accomplishment.  Those who aren’t lazy or stupid, just not made for the academics.

Be open to new ideas, and new thought.  That is an accomplishment, for sure.

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.

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