Saturday, June 25, 2011

Religion in Public Schools.

Gaia has apparently been moved from Mythology 101 textbooks and into the core curriculum of schools in Maryland, which will now require that each student be "environmentally literate" in order to get a high school diploma.

You know, I'd be happy if they were plain old vanilla literate. I mean, what percentage of today's high school graduates wouldn't be able to spell "environmentally literate", even if you spotted them half the vowels?

Things like this are useful course markers on the steadily descending glide slope of civilization, however, in that they make no pretense about this teaching students how to think; they're pretty open about the fact that it's telling students what to think.

Not a day goes by that I don't feel sorry for the Sisyphean task that faces the good teachers out there, as they labor in a swamp that just gets deeper and more entangled by the year (if you'll pardon the liberal mixing of metaphors.) I can't imagine being a college professor getting an essay turned in that starts out "Its imprtant 2 protekt the enviroment bcuz..."

Oy, vey.


Frank W. James said...

Having been happily married to a teacher of many years of experience you simply have no idea of how truly miserable the state of affairs really is.

And it all starts with the parents and grandparents because they can't spell 'environmentally literate' or much else for that matter...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Nathan said...

I'm so glad I decided not to stay in the People's Republic of Maryland back in 1996....

CalvinsMom said...

I once got an excuse from a student -- not a paper, mind you, but an excuse -- explaining that she could not write the paper because the assigned topic negatively affected her chakras and warped her aura.

I had two beers with lunch that day.

Anonymous said...

We get closer to "FALLEN ANGELS" every day, just without the orbital hope chest.

Lanius said...

So, why is it, that when performance is compared internationally, US keeps lagging far behind countries that spend much less money on education?

Too much accent put on self-esteem?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Hooray for my state!

atlharp said...

"I mean, what percentage of today's high school graduates wouldn't be able to spell "environmentally literate", even if you spotted them half the vowels?"


TBeck said...

Aren't spotted vowels endangered by evil corporations?

alcade said...

"You know, I'd be happy if they were plain old vanilla literate."

Using the modern definition of "literature" I'd almost say it wasn't enough - though it would certainly be a start.

Of late I've been fond of late 19th and early 20th century literature, especially from British authors. The more I read what was written before, the more I think that modern day authors should be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Read the book "Mindset" by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D, for a look at what should be done in schools. Well, not just schools, but an incredible difference in results when the people involved have a "growth mindset" compared to the "closed mindset".

I would label this book as one of the small handful that should be mandatory for everyone.

Although not across the board, the closed mindset seems to be endemic to the socialist thinkers, which is odd, because you would think it should be the opposite.

wv: boyou. better believe it's important!


wolfwalker said...

TBeck: nice one.

I'm withholding judgement til I see what the 'environmental literacy' curriculum looks like. I grant it will probably be new age nonsense, but OTOH I can see definite benefits if kids learn that:

* food does not miraculously appear at the supermarket. It has to be grown, and some methods of growing food are better than others

* usable water does not miraculously appear at the tap and disappear forever down the drain. It has to be pumped, and stored, and cleaned, and otherwise looked after.

* Bambi is not a documentary. Life for wild animals is rough, and That's The Way It's Supposed To Be.

* when humans try to "manage" nature, most of the time we screw it up

* all sorts of nasty things happen to people who are stupid enough to ignore Nature. Like building million-dollar homes in floodplains or on crumbling hillsides.

* wildlife, whether on land or sea, is not an infinite resource.

* the thing most worth knowing about Nature is this: we really know very little about Nature.

Keads said...

I just left a part time gig as an Adjunct Instructor for the local community college after 11 years. Curriculum problems are one thing. Student and admin problems on top of that are another.

Anonymous said...

I sent my son to a 13 grand a year large private boys school. Now in his final year, he takes literature, physics, chemistry, biology and advanced math.
He also is first 8 rowing and first 15 in rugby in case you think he's a nerd.
Not really bragging (well yes I am) but thanks for the tip on Maryland Ed. It'll point him to the future drudges he'll need for his factory.

Anonymous said...

Great post title; the irony drips.

The mere mention of God will make these pods go apoplectic, yet the worship of (as opposed to husbandry of, Wolfwalker) natural resources is actively proselytized.

And as Farmer Frank alludes, the profs themselves are two and three generations removed from any real teaching of mechanics like the R's or abstracts like critical thought.

At this point organized education is dead and should go the way of organized religion...which is to say removed from the public domain and self-directed, self-centric, and self-sufficient.


rickn8or said...

Is that dammit Mothership EVER going to get here?

In the meantime, AT's onto something...

Tam said...


A proper education with a grounding in (or at least a passing exposure to) the hard sciences would take care of that by default. :(

John A said...

"No Child Left Inside"? Seriously?

There might be some value to, say, a one-semester course about "environment" awareness, but I very much doubt the course[s] envisioned will be other than "This is an oak, this is a pine, and nasty capitalists cut down both types." Complaining that currently too much emphasis is placed on science/math is a bit hypocritical too, as "environmental" concerns can only be evaluated/resolved using them - with the exception of killing off humankind so "Nature" will not be disturbed by any concern of ours. Oh, wait, even that involves using science and mathematics!

Matt said...

Now you know why I call my home state "Marylandistan" or "California East", depending on my level of frustration. At least I live on the eastern shore (for those that don't know, that's the part of the state on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay). For the most part, the folks around here are still fairly level headed although we have had our share of immigration from those hives of villainy called Baltimore and Washington. Of course those folks look down on us locals and consider us ignorant rednecks. But then, coming from them, I take that as a compliment.

wolfwalker said...


That was sorta kinda my point, or part of it: "environmentalism" doesn't have to be synonymous with "lefty eco-freaks." Taught properly, with an emphasis on science, "environmental literacy" would be a very good thing.

Mind you, I don't for a second think that's what the sponsors of this bill had in mind -- after all, the Maryland state legislooture is currently dominated by D's. I only wanted to point out that "environmental literacy" isn't necessarily a bad thing. The devil, as always, is in the details.

Matt said...

Wolfwalker :

That's pretty much the problem - Maryland's legislature has been dominated by the Dems for just about forever. A Dem governor can win Baltimore city and 2 counties out of 23 and win the election.

The only reason that we haven't suffered the same economic fate as other Democrat run states is that DC keeps people employed, at least on the western shore.

Anonymous said...

"I mean, what percentage of today's high school graduates wouldn't be able to spell "environmentally literate", even if you spotted them half the vowels?"

Looking at my latest statistics on it, I'd say that only 40% could. This excludes, by default, those students who left before graduating, whether literate (above 6th grade reading level) or not not so much. Sadly, California's statistics indicate a 50% level of literacy, of which only 25% have the excuse of English not being their native language.

Ulises from CA

Ancient Woodsman said...

My son at 5 shed tears over me cutting down a diseased tree from the back yard. Off we went that week to a nearby logging job to see skidders, feller-buncher, slasher, loader, log truck, whole-tree chipper...from there to a local saw mill, followed by a trip to the biomass electricity plant.

The smile on his face as he was able to suddenly realize that trees provide electricity, warmth, floors, toys, furniture, you name it, was priceless.

Every kid needs a trip like that to the woods, farm, docks, and any other place where commodities can be illustrated to flow from first harvest through value-added processes to final user - all in one day - is necessary for healthy economics, healthy environment, healthy kids, and therefor a healthy society.

Clearly, the process in Maryland is anything but building healthy anything.

Anonymous said...

I teach environmental history - I'm a conservationist, not an environmentalist as currently defined - and yeah, the "love the bunnies, hug a tree, corporations are eeeevil" stuff gets tanked pretty quickly in my classroom. Especially after I point out that American Indians and the "noble, Afr-Asian peasants" had greater effects on their physical environments prior to 1800 than did the "rapacious, greedy, [insert epithet here] capitalists".

I don't think that's what the doctors of Ed. in MD have in mind, through.

wv: Scroo. Well, yep, that's what the MD board is doing to the next generation.

Ian Argent said...

When I remark to my wife that I'd rather stay in NJ than move to MD, they're doing it wrong.

(Well, that, and I don't think there's anyplace in MD I'd have to be that we couldn't live in PA, DE, or VA)

Chris said...

About 3-4 weeks ago, one of the big radio stations here in MD (WBAL) was reporting that 48% of MD high school grads needed some remedial classes when beginning college. Somehow the "leaders" in the legislature don't see the irony here.

Sigivald said...

I'd be less unhappy with that if I wasn't absolutely sure that "environmentally literate" meant "agreeing with hippies about both the severity of environmental issues and their ideal resolutions".

(And, yeah, if they'd manage just-plain-literate first.

But requiring environmental literacy, where you could pass it by agreeing with me just as well as by agreeing with a hippie, would be slightly less infuriating.)

John Venlet said...

Tam, I passed my most recent environmental literacy test.

Thank you for linking over to my place.