A Texas “education”?

I haven’t been saying much about current events lately, but there’s a question I just have to ask. Experts have been commenting about how the new curriculum standards out of Texas are likely to influence other states as well, due to the very large number of textbooks purchased by Texas schools. The question I have to ask is what the heck are they doing with all those books?

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Unscientific America

Well, looks like the blogosphere has been busy since I’ve been gone. I’ve been particularly interested in the brouhaha between PZ Myers et al versus Mooney and Kirshenbaum regarding Unscientific America, recently published by the latter. I haven’t had a chance to read more than the excerpt posted on the Unscientific America web site, so I’ll reserve judgment on which side I favor. In the meantime, I have some comments of my own regarding what I suspect the root cause is: American education. Not that we’re failing to do it well enough, but that our entire approach to education is fundamentally flawed in ways that make widespread anti-intellectualism inevitable.

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Recommended Reading: How to teach

A Blog Around The Clock has some thoughts up about The so-called Facebook Scandal, in which he addresses some very interesting points.

Science is supposed to be a collaborative activity. Why is it organized (and taught) as if it was a competitive activity? How does that affect science? Negatively, by increasing secretiveness and sometimes outright fraud.

The Web is changing all this. The teenagers already grok that the old selfish notions of intellectual property are going by the way of the dodo. They naturally think in terms of networks, not individuals. And thinking in term of newtorks as opposed to a linear, hierarchical, individualistic focus, is necessary for speeding up the advancement of knowledge and societal good.

In other words, it is not important what each individual knows or does, it is important what the interactions between individuals can do, and how the group or community (or global community) learns and acts upon the knowledge.

Thus, education, especially science education, from Kindergarden through post-doc and beyond, should be organized around collaborations, teaching people and letting them practice the networking skills and collaborative learning and action. Individuals will make mistakes and get punished by the group (sometimes as harshly as excommunication). They will learn from that experience and become more collaborative next time. The biggest sin would be selfish non-sharing of information.

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Posted in Education, Recommended Reading, Science. Comments Off on Recommended Reading: How to teach