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Obama Kicks Off Massive Science Education Effort 801

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the need-a-new-space-race dept.
In a speech at the White House today, President Obama launched a new campaign, "Educate to Innovate," designed to get American students fired up about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The full text of the speech is also available on whitehouse.gov. "The new campaign builds on the President's Inaugural Address, which included a vow to put science 'in its rightful place.' One of those rightful places, of course, is the classroom. Yet too often our schools lack support for teachers or the other resources needed to convey the practical utility and remarkable beauty of science and engineering. As a result, students become overwhelmed in their classes and ultimately disengaged. They lose, and our nation loses too. The partnerships launched today aim to change that. They respond to a challenge made by the President in April, when he spoke at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences and asked the nation's philanthropists, professional and educational societies, corporations, and individuals to collaborate and innovate with the goal of reinvigorating America's STEM educational enterprise. The partnerships announced today — dramatic commitments in the hundreds of millions of dollars, generated through novel collaborations and creative outreach activities — are just the first wave of commitments anticipated in response to his call."
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Obama Kicks Off Massive Science Education Effort

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  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:06PM (#30205962)

    In other news politicians still haven't made the connection between an arbitrary and inherently abusive disciplinary system of absolute authority with no accountability or responsibility layed over the top of a system of "education" designed around teaching students to do well on a few standardized tests and students becoming "disengaged".

    Ditch zero tolerance and standardized tests and the problem will solve itself.

  • Mythbusters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr100percent (57156) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:12PM (#30206038) Homepage Journal

    Adam Savage from Mythbusters was present, and twittered [twitter.com] about the day's event, including being mentioned in Obama's speech and even posted a photo or two of meeting him and Dean Kamen.

  • by Speare (84249) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:12PM (#30206040) Homepage Journal
    I really think someone should bring back Public Service Announcement education (a la "Schoolhouse Rock") in a big way. Keep the lessons small and bite-sized, fit them into 30 second spots. Just keep banging away simple concepts that are aimed at middle-schoolers and adults who forgot all of that stuff. Using simple math to figure out gallons of paint required for a wall of a given size. Linking fuel purchased to pollution created in numbers. Explaining the difference between anecdotes versus statistical norms, like the recent breast-cancer-screening recommendations. Illustrating the kinds of technology Europe, Asia and the Americas had in 1400 AD or 1600 AD or 1800 AD. Heck, even just quoting and explaining each of the Constitutional Amendments during shows like "24 Hours" or "CSI" would have a profound impact in the long run.
  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:16PM (#30206080)
    More top down central planning of the government schools isn't going to lead to more productive outcomes. Science isn't a rigid, unchanging system that can be taught as dogma. Instead of throwing another stifling straitjacket onto the failed government schools, he might emulate the diverse and decentralized environment of scientific achievement, and allow competition with government schools, and competing curricula that will over time lead to increasingly more beneficial outcomes.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:28PM (#30206262)

    I was going to say stop paying executives and lawyers so much.

    But then I realized an even more fundamental problem.

    Science is hard. Degrees are expensive in the U.S.

    Knowing science does not result in either good pay or security.

    So smart people choose other fields which require boots on the ground, better security, and better social status.

    Only suckers do science right now.

  • Re:Parents . . . (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beej (82035) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:31PM (#30206318) Homepage Journal

    When I was about 4 years old, dad put a cup of ice water on the counter and told me to come back in about 10 minutes. After the time had elapsed, I did, and there was condensation on the outside of the glass. Dad asked me how the water got there. I speculated that it had somehow leaked through the glass.

    I can't remember if he told me how the water actually got there, but that was the first time I can remember deliberately forming a hypothesis about something I'd observed

    Also, for as long as I can remember, my folks had science books just floating around--lots of them with pictures like the Time-Life science books, which I had thumbed through many times before I even knew how to read. Plus they had a set of World Book Encyclopedias. I was always re-readings those.

    I do wonder if I'd be as science-minded as I am today without such encouragement, or if I was just born that way to begin with. I'm sure the encouragement didn't hurt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:39PM (#30206428)

    To you and people who think like that (sibling post by techno-vampire going even further in this)... I'd like to note that there is a reason why we need standardized tests. If each school acts on it's own, some might become better than now, others worse. You could look at two people's papers and not know how good they are compared to each other unless you are well familiar of quality of every school in the country. We really need standardized tests to fix this, to give some guideline with which to compare students' knowledge to others.

    Your argument is really not that much against standardized tests. It is against badly used standardized tests, which can be fixed if it is made into a priority. I can't comment on this one as I'm not from USA and have never gone through such. However, here in Finland there are pretty few standardized tests but they are important: At the end of highschool you are put to national tests about each subject (a group of good teachers evaluate all tests without knowing to whom they belong to or even what school are the exam takers from) and everyone gets a grade relative to others. On each year, 5% best get the best grade, those who aren't in 5% but are in 20% get the next best one... Of course there are some variations (a score that would have been just enough for the best grade on one year could be just below the limit on the next) but overall it gives a pretty good result.

    If people from one highschool consistently get lower grades, the school get a bad reputation and nobody wants to go there. Publicly funded schools (=practically every single one) get funded based on how many students graduate so schools have some interest to compete with other schools when it comes to quality of education.

  • by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:43PM (#30206474)

    On the flip side in states where you can't unionize, North Carolina for example, in order to balance the budget they gave teachers a retroactive pay cut which means your next paycheck gets docked all the money you got payed earlier in the year to bring it down to your new lower salary level. For all you people who think I typed something wrong because that sounds too illegal and crazy to be true, it is, and it did happen. The Governor apparently has broad constitutional rights to balance the state budget. Teachers that had a lot of money already taken out for things like medical spending and the like actually had to PAY the state back. That sorta thing doesn't exactly help get good teachers in our state.

    Now compare that to the quality of education in the state of New york where I first lived and they did have teacher unions....

  • by wanerious (712877) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:45PM (#30206484) Homepage
    I'm honestly having trouble coming up with an example of how, say, some item in a math curriculum is "right" for one district and not another. I might be on your side if there were actual experts in the fields making decisions on school boards instead of, for example, policemen and dentists deciding what a biology curriculum should include. Substituting experts making decisions on a national scale is a pretty good idea.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:52PM (#30206616) Journal

    >>>Republican pundits would say as much about Democratic proposals for U.S. universal health care.

    - We believe in the right to get health or sickcare.
    - We also believe in the right to choose smoking, drinking, or overeating.
    - We even believe you have the right to replace your damaged lung, liver, or fatty heart.

    What we do NOT believe is that you can force your neighbors to pay the bill. Most Americans consider that theft of another man's labor. We are amazed that Europeans do not. If you wanted to make a "safety net" to help-out those who can't afford their own care, fine, but 99% of Americans have enough money to pay the bill themselves and should do so.

    Also the "40 million American are uninsured" is only half the story. The other half of the story is that 30 million of those Americans are uninsured but covered by government programs like SCHIP and Medicare. The remaining ones are illegal intruders (non-citizens).

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Monday November 23, 2009 @04:56PM (#30206658) Homepage Journal
    You have a good point about the tedium pace and monotony of our day to day jobs. As a recent college grad I feel exactly where you are coming from. So I have a question for you, or anyone else on here who has some ideas. How do we fix that as well? How do reengineer the workplace structure, at any level, to make work less suck and more awesome? Honestly, I am not asking to troll, I am seriously curious. I don't have an answer...at least not a full one. I have some ideas, but I would be interested in other folks' ideas as well. How do we make work less crappy? Any takers?
  • by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Monday November 23, 2009 @05:00PM (#30206736) Homepage Journal

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday November 23, 2009 @05:01PM (#30206738)

    Parents with no sense of wonder about science? Kids without one, too.

    I absolutely will not allow my two children to pursue a STEM education. I will not let them ruin their lives by learning something that our culture and economy have declared worthless, resulting in a life of semi-permanent poverty and profound under-employment. If they want to major in STEM they're doing it on their own dime and not under my roof. Smoke dope, have sex, whatever just don't get hurt, but you major in Physics or anything with the word Engineering in it, and you're out of here, young man. (Note to moderators, this isn't supposed to be tagged funny, I'm serious)

    On the other hand, ALL my hobbies and interests revolve around "the wonder of science" and STEM-type hobbies, and I do my best to pass that on to my kids. We don't watch sports, don't watch much TV in general other than "semi-educational" stuff, we do lots of electronics, computers, radio, we look at stuff with my microscope, take nature walks to look at plants and bugs, etc.

    Perfectly acceptable to have "a sense of wonder" about science, but classify selecting a STEM major right up there in the youthful stupidity column with "I'm gonna be a rockstar" and "I'm gonna get drafted by the NBA". "OK kid, let me try to explain how the world works...".

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 23, 2009 @05:22PM (#30207040) Journal

    That was Emperor Claudius, circa 10 B.C. He bemoaned that Roman women were walking-around in see-through dresses made of Chinese silk, men were sleeping with those same loose women, and other "moral decay" within the Republic.

    And he actually may have been right. After the year 100 A.D. Rome invented very few new ideas. Heck some guy invented a primitive steam engine, and Rome never developed it. They saw no need to innovate.

  • by bmsleight (710084) on Monday November 23, 2009 @05:24PM (#30207070) Homepage

    True, Engineering is Fun. In the UK we already have a STEM net. [http://www.stemnet.org.uk/home.cfm] I am an Engineering professional, who goes in to schools as an STEM Ambassador, (alas do not get the chocolates [youtube.com]).

    I try and explain how much fun it is to have a real job as an Engineer. We have a real shortage of young people who consider doing engineering at all levels as a career. From spending all day outside fixing traffic lights, to spending multi-million pounds on engneering contracts. Engineer is a good career. On Friday as part to the STEMNET group, I explained to new teachers what it is like to have an Ambassador to visit the school, whilst at the Leicester Space Center in the UK. Then we all got to meet Charlie Duke, a United States astronaut. Who had an interesting career in Engineering!

  • by jmoo (67040) on Monday November 23, 2009 @05:26PM (#30207112)

    Warning! Anecdotal evidence ahead, my own two cents, etc....

    My wife is a teacher now for 6 years and from what I can make of it, teachers are there own worse enemy when it comes to any improvements in the schools. They regularly resist any change, argue over almost any point, and back stab each other the smallest perceived slight. I think, at least in part, its comes from just a lot of burn out and frustration with students, but as I said this comes to be second hand from my wife so I know I don't have the clearest view.

    My wife was an accountant and got her MBA before deciding to get out of the corporate life and to take up teaching. She went through an accelerated course to get her teaching degree. Now teaching business at the high school level for several years, but continues to be look down on by many of the teachers at the school. She didn't get a normal degree in education, she one of the "transplants". Such narrow mindedness....

  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday November 23, 2009 @07:12PM (#30208516) Journal

    If Kansas wants to teach creationism, let them.

    No. Don't let them.

    If they wanted to teach holocaust denial in history class then they'd be stopped, and rightly so. Creationism has to be stopped in its tracks too.

    It's time America started fighting against this tide of ignorance in the name of a misguided 'freedom' to make the wrong choice. It's time that this worship of ignorance and superstition was exposed for the sham it really is. Look what happened the last time an idol of the anti-intellectual right was elected into power. The people of Iraq will be paying a very heavy price for years to come, American freedom or no American freedom.

  • Re:Standards? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bootsy Collins (549938) on Monday November 23, 2009 @07:35PM (#30208720)

    And if it is something the Feds can do, let them prove it in the one school sytem Congress can take direct responsibility for. After all, if the DC school system is truly excellent, then there should be no problem applying those policies and funding decisions to other school systems.

    What, the DC school system is not among the finest in the nation?

    (snip)

    Maybe we should return control of local school systems back to local school boards. And let Congress and the DOE control only the DC school system. When the DC school system is ranked among the top 25 then perhaps we might want to pay attention to the example set by Washington. Pay attention to the example - not do as they say. Under local control, some schools would undoubtably do better, some might do worse, but DC is dead last right now - so even your religious nutjob nightmare districts are still likely to do a better job than the nations capital.

    I'm stunned this was modded as "Insightful." As someone who actually lives in DC, I can tell you that the involvement of Congress in the DC Public Schools is zero. However Congress' powers of oversight may *allow* Congress to get involved, the practical fact of the matter is that they do not. Instead, the absolutely awful DC public school system is treated by Congress in exactly the same way as every other school district throughout the United States. It is not an example of a failure of Federal management, since there isn't any more here than there is for Schnectady, New York or Hays, Kansas.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Monday November 23, 2009 @07:39PM (#30208768) Homepage Journal

    Having a wife who went through Catholic schools, and 2 kids who went to Catholic high school, I can say that it's at least partly because they don't confuse religion with education. There are religion classes, but they're NOT in the science classes. Plus before you get too upset about religion classes, in some other school they might be counted under ethics or some form of social studies. Neither of my kids nor my wife complained about the religion classes being some form of indoctrination. (My wife is a self-professed liberal, and proud of it.)

    One other ingredient is a little discipline. Not the sort that stamps out all fun, but the sort that keeps an anti-education counter-culture from growing. (Not physical discipline, either.) My son was thrilled after his first day in high school, because when some kid started cutting up, the rest of the class shushed him.

    By the way, the Catholic schools are privately funded. Even at that, the cost per pupil is cheaper than the public schools, I suspect at least partly because they're not the baby-sitter-of-last-resort. Unfortunately I paid both tuition and taxes for the schools - it hurt, but it was worth it.

    Nor do they neglect sports or the arts, just for a little further completeness.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday November 23, 2009 @07:41PM (#30208782)
    you never do address the very thought of what you think is wrong with science education

    I have no problem with science education. We don't do nearly enough of it, mostly because parents don't actually do enough about it, directly in their own school districts where they should be doing something about it.

    What I'm pointing out is that his (Obama's) party always involves itself with the education system - especially at the federal leve - by throwing money at it... money which always props up the politicized unions that vote his way, and which never have the students' actual interests at heart. For examples, note the trouble that science-oriented charter schools have surviving when the public education system is highly influenced in that district by by the teachers' unions. They are all about keeping mediocre teachers (who make terrible science instructors) in their jobs, and avoiding anything that looks like merit-based employment. As long as those union dues keep rolling in, that's what matters. And when the ruling political party leans on unions as one of their main voting blocks, you must look at everything that goes on between them for what it actually is.
  • by Falconhell (1289630) on Monday November 23, 2009 @07:44PM (#30208810) Journal

    Ah, the same tired and inaccurate claim.

    Ever hear of the cochlear implant, developed in OZ?

    We punch significantly above our weight in the medical research area.

    Does the US govt PAY for that supposed 82%?

    How much is done by big pharma, for huge profits?

    You cant count that as govt spending you know.

    In fact according to the study I just looked up;

    We identified 1 485 749 articles published by authors from the European Union and the four candidate countries and 1 356 805 articles published by US authors.

    See;

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1179763/table/tbl1/ [nih.gov]

    Funny that looks like Eurpoe is more than 50%.

    Seems you have poosted a classic case of 85% of statistics are made up on the spot.

    How about using a credible source of information instead of getting your"facts" from Fox news?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:31PM (#30209150)

    Look at the countries that are doing better jobs of teaching their children. You think they teach creationism in science class? How much time you think Japanese or Korean students spend in school prayer?

    Japan's actually pretty religious -- 96% adhere to syncretic Shinto and Buddhism (yes, according to Wikipedia). South Korea, meanwhile, has the fastest growing Christian population on the planet.

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:44PM (#30209242)

    Why do catholic schools consistently outperform public schools on standardized science tests?

    Catholic schools don't teach creationism since the Catholic Church does not believe such rubbish, even as far back as St. Augustine. Catholic schools simply care about teaching children. Even though there is a religious element, it is not nearly as pervasive and forceful as creationist-fuckwad-controlled public schools.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:57PM (#30209328) Homepage
    The purpose of education os to install knowledge about the world to society at large. Local school districts don't live in different realities, each with their own specifics.

    They don't? You think that the realities of education in an inner-city school where the children come from poor families and, often, broken homes is the same as one in an upper-middle-class neighborhood? I don't. One needs emphasis on the fundamentals so that the children learn what they need to improve themselves, with emphasis on shop classes for the boys (so that they can learn job skills) and home economics for the girls so that they can learn what they'll need to raise their own children better and the other needs (or at least wants) college prep classes. A local school board can do more to see that each school's students get what they really need than a faceless bureaucrat in DC who's trying to shoehorn every district into the same mold.

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Monday November 23, 2009 @10:29PM (#30209846)

    Then maybe the real issue is people using the school system to indoctrinate people. It's no secret that educators across America push conservative ideals.

    FTFY. In case you haven't noticed, things like creationism are *conservative* ideologies. Anyway, the ultimate problem is politicians, school boards, and so on, trying to push *any* ideologies instead of, I don't know, actually teaching educational material. Call me crazy, but school time is limited and should be spent teaching things like math, science, art, literature, and language skills. But, creationists and other fucktards see school as a battleground to force *other people's children* into their ideologies.

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Monday November 23, 2009 @10:54PM (#30209976) Homepage

    zomg! argh! violate the constitution. Dude, chill the localized rhetoric out.

    Giving the Federal DoE the power to trump local governments would violate the Constitution by giving the Federal Government a right, that it is not explicitly given to it by the document. All such powers belong to the States — and the people [wikipedia.org]. That this is happening in other areas is not an excuse.

    You say that without the DoE, it might get better. Considering the Kansas precedence, it is also obvious that it *might not*... or better yet, that the situation will degrade.

    Actually, no, the Kansas precedent shows the exact opposite — it will not get any worse, because DoE currently has no control over local boards anyway. It might or it might not get better, but it will not degrade and we'll save a ton money spent on Washington bureaucrats. Just this year — despite the dire crisis, we rewarded failure at the DoE with about $100 bln dollars [nytimes.com]. It was trumpeted as "Money for Education" (think of the children!), but it was, in fact, "Money for the Department of Education"...

    There are three scenarios where the Kansas fuckapocalipse wouldn't have taken place

    You focus so much on Kansas' decision to teach, that Humanity has other explanations for nature's diversity, but you miss the bigger picture — Kansas' SAT-scores [collegeboard.com] are quite a bit higher, than national average, while New York's are way lower. And New York spends the most per pupil of all States of the Union. And they have a lot of pupils, so one would think, they enjoy the economy of scale...

    Something tells me, the Federally-guided education practices are closer to New York's — and, in particular, you would want them to be, even if you aren't happy with the results.

    by replacing it with something more effective, run by educated men of science determined to bring US scholastic averages to same levels as in other developed countries, and with the teeth to force local school districts to implement said curriculums.

    Oh, boy, you have a long way to go, before you realize, that "educated men of science" are just as prone to petty politicking, championing their own pet projects, and justifying their political agenda by "science" (climate cough research cough) etc. as the local dunces...

    At least, if a State's board screws up, only that State's education is affected. If the Federal DoE screws up (or, deliberately sets some aspect of education onto a wrong track), the entire Union is screwed up. Seriously, what happened to the Celebrate Diversity slogan?

    and with the teeth to force local school districts to implement said curriculums.

    Unconstitutional...

  • by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Monday November 23, 2009 @11:38PM (#30210164) Homepage Journal

    No, they don't. You can find reliable data to show how many students from each school go to college, go to trade schools, drop out, and so on.

    Homeschool data is full of holes. The poor performing students just don't show up in the reporting at all. The ones with the worst education, the creationists, are conveniently left out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 23, 2009 @11:39PM (#30210166)

    "What I do NOT believe is that you can force your neighbors to pay the bill."

    FTFY.

    What he really means "I am a heartless selfish asshole who would rather watch unfortunate poor people die in the gutter than pay a pittance for a decent universal health care scheme".

    I pay into 1.5% of my salary above 30K Australias universal health care and am happy to do so. It works very well. We have good health care for everyone. If you want private insurance you can have that too, and get a tax rebate.

    Our government spends less to give universal health care than yours does to NOT provlde it.

    Drink the republican kool-aid much.

    I think what he means is that Americans are seeing ever increasing state and federal social programs funded by our tax dollars each year -- programs like medicare, wellfare, social security etc. We are happy to pay for all of these things because they are necessary for a balanced society; however, when we see state and federal government spending unprecedented amounts of money at a time when states are flat out bankrupt and giving a certain segment of their workers IOU forms for repayment at a later date (California I'm looking at you), you eventually begin to say "no, you can't have another dime of my hard-earned money."

    It's not that a lot of fair-minded Americans are greedy a-holes that spit on a lower class of people, it's that we have a limit for how much money we want the government to take from our families, and this new health care bill exceeds that limit when summed up along side many of the other social programs we are paying for.

  • Re:Standards? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @01:27AM (#30210614) Journal

    The part I don't understand is how you get from "less Federal interference" to "let the free market run everything".

    There is a general observation that, in American politics, State Rights in their entirety are favored either by libertarians, or by really crazy conservatives. I don't blame GP for making that mistake, but it's really a pity.

    Personally, I would classify myself as a moderate leftie (in favor of social welfare / free decent healthcare / free education, progressive taxes, generally pro-union and labor rights, etc), . At the same time, while I'm not an American, I'm broadly in favor of small government because I think that centralized democracies become increasingly corrupt as they grow, and representatives are removed further away from people who elect them. Just like direct democracy only really works on a city-state level, representative democracy only really works on a relatively small (a few millions, top) state level - beyond that it quickly degenerates into oligarchy with a caste of "professional electees".

    The solution is always more decentralization - either by forming a proper confederacy with large degree of autonomy for member states (as the original US was), or by going for alternate systems designed to tackle this, such as soviet (council) democracy with its multiple levels of representative bodies from local level up, and direct responsibility of elected delegates to the lower-level council that sent them (to the point of being recallable at any moment). Of those two, confederation is a more tried approach.

    So, while I broadly agree with the direction outlined in TFS, I also agree with you that, ultimately, it would be best for your country if this was left to the individual states - like most other things. On the other hand, looking at it in present-day context, a sudden rapid decentralization is highly unlikely - and decentralizing individual things on their own while retaining massive centralization elsewhere won't do much good even at best, and will likely do a lot of harm in practice. It's really either all (okay, most) or nothing, unfortunately.

  • by Nqdiddles (805995) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:22AM (#30210802) Homepage

    but 99% of Americans have enough insurance and/or other coverage to pay the bill themselves and should do so.

    There, fixed that for you friend.

    Disclaimer: I'm Australian. I'm glad my kids won't starve just to pay medical bills. And, right or wrong to your way of thinking, I'll happily pay for that security in my taxes

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:22AM (#30210996) Journal

    I've always been a little concerned that the campaigners to keep religion and existential philosophy out of schools

    Has anyone been saying this, ever?

    No one wants to keep this out of schools. We want to keep it out of science class.

    you can't actually control what the children are thinking about or the questions they will internally ask.... if you think a policy of "no philosophical or religious discussion allowed" will stop children from thinking and internally asking those religious/existential questions,

    You seem to be assuming (mistakenly) that we want children to stop asking these questions.

    We don't. There is a time and a place for such questions. A few possible places in school include religion class, philosophy class, or ethics class -- all of which are important, but are not science class.

    Suppose a student stood up in math class and asked, "What is knowledge? How can we really say that we know, or have proved, anything?"

    That's an important question, and it may even be somewhat relevant to math, but it is inherently not math, it's offtopic, and it's disruptive when the intent is to actually teach math.

    So the answer to all of these questions would be, very simply, "That's an interesting question. Why don't you ask that in philosophy?"

    A better answer would be to actually explain why that question is outside the domain of science. Carl Sagan's "dragon in my garage" might be a good start.

    And if you wish to stop those questions from being discussed in class, then frankly you might as well put up a sign saying "only government pre-approved questions may be asked, and only government pre-approved answers will be given"

    Really?

    You really can't see a difference between trying to keep things on-topic and a totalitarian government pre-approved list of questions and answers?

    The empirical evidence in Europe is that science applications to universities appear to have fallen as society and schools have become more secular. And the empirical evidence in Europe is that it seems to be the religious schools that produce the best science results

    Nice evidence. Now, how do you connect it with this conclusion:

    and part of that is that they most certainly do make space in their schools (in RE classes) for discussion of what (let's face it) society has always called "the big questions" about the meaning of life.

    Really?

    How do you know that? Especially given that the person you are replying to claims that this is actually not what happens -- that the religious schools absolutely do keep religion out of the science classroom, and instead tell their students to ask in a more appropriate class?

    they expect them to think about everything, not just science.

    That's a good idea.

    Why don't you think about what you've learned here, if you've been paying attention. Two important things:

    First, read the post before replying.

    Second, make an effort to understand what your opposition says, rather than creating elaborate strawmen.

  • Re:Standards? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unwastaken (1586569) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @07:52AM (#30212420)

    less Federal interfernce in education

    The countries that are kicking our asses in science education don't have "less Federal inerfernce" they have more. Plus, the countries that are most successful in teaching their children have free education, financed by taxpayers.

    When you scratch the surface of the "let the free market run everything" argument, you don't have to go very far before you start to see the FAIL showing through.

    FAIL, like in South Korea [bbc.co.uk], where almost every student goes to private, after school academies in a variety of subjects? Academies that go well beyond what the public schools teach? Academies that answer directly to angry mothers, who remove their students from the academy when they perform poorly?

    No, my experience with South Korea has strongly affirmed the libertarian idea that schools do not need to be controlled by the government.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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