Thursday, June 04, 2009

This is the way the world ends.

So, I am a big fan of science. People tell me (on both sides) that it's contradictory to be an enthusiast of Science while being a man of Faith, but I am personally all into the idea God loves knowledge and gets a happy proud parent grin whenever we do something like map his human genome or figure out something on the Deific concept of quantum entanglement.

I am also a big fan of America as a nation and concept. It always hurts my heart a little when I hear about American students not holding up in Science against foreign students, but I also keep in mind a lot of the countries to which these studies compare us don't allow kids below a certain grade point to go to High School and instead send them to a trade school, thereby guaranteeing another generation of wrench turners and plunger pilots (both honorable and necessary professions, don't get me wrong). So I am usually not too bothered by the numbers because I know our schools allow everyone in, and on occasion someone who seemed destined to just be a clerk in a patent office has a flash go off in their head and the theory of relativity is born (yes, I know he didn't start in America- it's just an example. Sheesh you're a tough crowd today!).

So, it was with great joy we went to The Daughter's 8th Grade science fair last night. Let me talk about The Daughter for a moment. This is the girl who in 7th Grade asked her teacher if she could skip reading “Ole Yeller” because she was immersed in “Beowulf.” She also recently wrote an essay describing how initiating curfews leads to a tyrannical state and the duty of the citizen to hold the state accountable and at bay. 'At's my girl.

Anyway, The Daughter does a science project using soap to open human cells and electrolytes in gatorade to create a solution with visible chains of DNA, to see if you can tell the difference between different humans and even animals (getting the sample from the cat was a real pleasure- helpful Dad). I expected similar work from her fellow 8th Graders. After all teachers approved this stuff.

Instead I was greeted with such projects as “Will I last longer if I play as a bad guy in 'Fable II'?” and “How long will different Kool-Aid flavors dye my hair?” There were also several kids who did the old “Bread Mold- which one develops faster” trick, which each of my kids did in 4th Grade.

I suppose I don't fault the kids for going with what interests them, but why the hell are teachers approving this and letting people think its science? There were a couple of other kids, probably four including The Daughter, who didn't cop out and did something which taught as well as used scientific method. And a few at least had hypothesis/test/result formats. I don't understand though why we are letting ourselves get away with this.

Further- there were no prizes handed out. Only participation ribbons, all of which were blue. And, the whole thing, literally all of it, was over in 30 minutes. The last pep rally took an hour.

I know public education has its problems, but how many are self induced? Have we beaten these teachers into submission with low salaries and PC rules? Do I really need a computer in every classroom just to tell a kid that playing a video game isn't science?

Oh- by the way. Playing “Fable II” aggressively and not bothering to think about what your doing makes you last longer. Thanks for the life lesson, kid.

The Daughter is looking for passage off planet.

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