Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oklahoma is Just Raising Questions in the Classroom

By which I mean, questioning the foundation of several centuries worth of scientific inquiry by providing students with the options of a "Build Your Own Bullshit" Bar at the old studiatorium we used to consider a classroom.

Here's the gist:

In biology class, public school students can't generally argue that dinosaurs and people ran around Earth at the same time, at least not without risking a big fat F. But that could soon change for kids in Oklahoma: On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Common Education committee is expected to consider a House bill that would forbid teachers from penalizing students who turn in papers attempting to debunk almost universally accepted scientific theories such as biological evolution and anthropogenic (human-driven) climate change. 
Gus Blackwell, the Republican state representative who introduced the bill, insists that his legislation has nothing to do with religion; it simply encourages scientific exploration. "I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks," says Blackwell, who previously spent 20 years working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma"A student has the freedom to write a paper that points out that highly complex life may not be explained by chance mutations." 
HB 1674 is the latest in an ongoing series of "academic freedom" bills aimed at watering down the teaching of science on highly charged topics. Instead of requiring that teachers and textbooks include creationism—see the bill proposed by Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin—HB 1674'scrafters say it merely encourages teachers and students to question, as the bill puts it, the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of topics that "cause controversy," including "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."
If someone wants their kid to be a nice little coddled egg or shit-fed mushroom, why is it so difficult to just homeschool the little larva without trying to impose one's vast ignorance on everyone else's brat? I mean, really! Making up stuff as you go along is to science as drinking cleaning fluids found under mother's sink is to eating. In other words--that's just wrong, son. The freeedom to write a paper claiming that the earth is held up by an infinite number of turtles is the freedom to step out in traffic--just because you can, doesn't make it right. To understand science is to be able to ably defend your propostition because it has been tested and you understand what the tests meant and what the results meant. Parroting back the bullshit you were raised with is no more science than a dog shaking hands means that the canine in question is attempting to introduce itself into human society--except that a dog, at least, might expect a treat. Or petting. But a child who parrots nonsense and expects an A for failing to be educated isn't introducing hirself to science. That child is rejecting it. And is no more educated that a child who rejects spelling or claims 2x2=a million.

Making bullshit a law doesn't make it anything more than bullshit. They might as well call ice cream a vegetable.

(X-posted at Rumproast.)

2 comments:

Yastreblyansky said...

Don't you think these people must be kind of unfamiliar with classrooms? I've never heard of anybody getting punished by the teacher for incorrect beliefs. (I did have some issues once with a logic professor who believed propositions existed, but that was grad school.) You could publicly proclaim it was all created last Tuesday by the Flying Spaghetti Monster as long as showed you knew how the question was supposed to be answered.

Vixen Strangely said...

What gets me is the idea that primary education is the level at which they are presuming one is conversant enough with the subject matter to take on something like the last 150 years of the theory of evolution impacting on biological science. The evidence in the fossil record and DNA have only strengthened the case for evolution--and yet it's presumed that a bright-enough middle-schooler is going to start a course of study that just blows *that* old thing out of the water. That would be a rare'un, that middle-schooler. If we didn't get rehashed Behe that the student him or herself didn't understand, we'd prety much get "Goddidit".

My version of "teach the controversy" is "go over the Dover trial" and that's it. "ID lost--let's now talk about real science."