SCIENCE EDUCATION IN AMERICAFebruary 29, 2012
Occasionally I've blogged here about the state of America's education - targeting specifically our "doctors of edubabble" and the teacher certification process - as two significant culprits in the educational morass that is America. I know the morass well, having taught college for a number of years, and being consistently surprised at the overall stupidity of the "education majors" entering my European, Mediaeval, British, or Russian history classes. Not knowing American history, you can imagine what a hash they made of the Tudor Monarchy or the Glorious Revolution(which, incidentally, they identified with the Bolshevik revolution), or of having to learn "all that religion and philosophy stuff" in order to have a precarious grasp of the Middle Ages. To be sure, our history and literature education in this country is more than deplorable. If you know a doctor of edubabble, blame him or her.
But what concerns me most, as technology spirals to ever dizzying heights, is the growing signs of Amerika's looming Third World status, as reflected in its test scores in science and mathematics (after all, we're dealing with a country some of whose population thinks - on the basis of a "literal interpretation of Scripture" - that the Earth is 6,000 years old). I ran across this little article that drives the point home:
Consider that one significant central statement:
- By the time our students are ready to leave high school - ready to enter higher education and the labor force - they are doing so badly with science they are significantly weaker than their peers in other countries.
- Our idea of "advanced" is clearly below international standards.
- There appears to be a consistent weakness in our teaching performance in physical sciences that becomes magnified over the years.
Even the article gives in to the "edubabble", for note, "There appears to be a consistent weakness in our teaching performance in physical sciences that becomes magnified over the years."
Appears to be!?!?
COnsider these astonishing admissions, and the soft-pedaling language they are couched in:
"Curricula The biggest deficits are found at the middle school level. In middle school, most countries shift curricula from basic arithmetic and elementary science in the direction of chemistry, physics, algebra and geometry. Even poor countries generally teach a half-year of algebra and a half-year of geometry to every eighth-grader.
"In U.S. middle schools, however, most students continue to review arithmetic. And they are more likely to study earth science and life science than physics or chemistry.
"Teachers Among teachers of high school biology and life sciences classes, approximately 31 percent of them do not have at least a minor in biology. Among high school physical science teachers, over half, 55 percent, do not have at least a minor in any of the physical sciences. Again we might question the focus of the teachers on social re-engineering instead of subject areas."
We "might" consider the focus of teachers on social-re-engineering instead of subject areas? We might? At least the article gets one thing right, our higher education isn't higher at all. Our middle schools are glorified elementary schools, our high schools glorified middle schools, and college is...well, a mess.
What we might want to consider is holding the doctors of edubabble and all the phoney baloney educational psychology and methodology professors accountable for this mess (and the politicians who pander to them), and simply fire them. And we might want to consider what's going to happen in a few years when our technological infrastructure literally falls apart from lack of well-trained and competent scientists and engineers to administer it.
Our education system is a reflection of our society and culture, and if that be the case, then what it is telling us is: we have no culture, and are a dying society.