Your Words Say ‘No,’ But Your Lobbyist Says ‘Yes’

Creationist members of the State Board of Education repeatedly assert that their crusade to teach kids the “weaknesses” or “limitations” of evolution has nothing to do with religion. We heard it time and again at the state board hearing on Wednesday. One of the testifiers, Jonathan Saenz, tried to explain this to the Houston Chronicle:

“The reality is this issue is about evolution and teaching strengths and weaknesses of evolution. It’s about science and teaching science right, regardless of what religious beliefs people have.”

Just to clarify, Saenz is director of legislative affairs for Plano-based Free Market Foundation, the Texas affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. If religion truly has nothing to do with this, then why, pray tell, is the lobbyist for Focus on the Family even here? Don’t see much about science in the mission statement of Focus on the Family:

To cooperate with the Holy Spirit in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible by nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide.

Not about religion, huh?

32 thoughts on “Your Words Say ‘No,’ But Your Lobbyist Says ‘Yes’

  1. If the strength and weakness language was about religion, why hasn’t it happened yet? It has been around for one to two decades. Aren’t you just fearmongering, or engaging in guilt by association?

  2. africangenesis said: “If the strength and weakness language was about religion, why hasn’t it happened yet?”

    What does this question mean?

    “Aren’t you just fearmongering, or engaging in guilt by association?”

    The charge of guilt by association isn’t apt when the association in question is the primary association by which the person in question comes onto the scene. As the article wanted to know, why would a director of the Free Market Foundation and lobbyist for Focus on the Family be giving testimony regarding teaching of science in the first place? What qualifies him to do so? What do those organizations have to do with science?

    Aren’t you just placating, and protecting the guilty?

  3. After the sound thrashing that intelligent design took at Dover, the “strengths and weaknesses” and “academic freedom” canards are now the chief weapons of the Discovery Institute and their more traditional creationist allies (neatly illustrated by the presence of Stephen Meyer, Ralph Seelke, and Charles Garner on the science standards review committee). Why leave this outmoded and politically-motivated language in the science standards for the next decade?

  4. The issue of religion raised in this blog wouldn’t be relevant unless it was being introduced into the classroom. Since we’ve had the language for a couple decades, shouldn’t there be plenty of examples where the weaknesses and strengths language caused problems in the classroom? The Focus on the Family person probably had a religious interest in the issue, but that doesn’t make it a religious issue. Perhaps the free market person is there as part of his interest in school choice or perhaps he was a parent. In some mammals, the male investment in the offspring is important. I read that a government student from UT testified, what interest could he have had in an institution of central planning…oh. Evidently one doesn’t have to be a scientist to have had an opinion or first hand experience of the public schools.

  5. Perhaps more importantly, why is the director of a group called “the Free Market Foundation” testifying for the anti-business position, the anti-free market position? Religion would be my guess.

    Texas depends on pragmatic applications of evolution theory, in the fight against the imported fire ant (which has evolved into a new species since it arrived on North American shores), in the fight against the cotton boll weevil, in the development of new agricultural products (Hello! Norman Borlaug!), and in various areas of medical research and treatment such as the fight against cancers. Texans also depend on industries where supportive sciences, such as geology, would make some industry practices impossible were it true that evolution doesn’t work. The geology that creationists deny is essential to finding oil and natural gas, for example.

    Why would the Free Market Foundation oppose the science that undergirds these industries?

    I think they’re not lying when they say it’s a religious issue. It sure as heck isn’t an issue of logic.

  6. Unfortunately africangenesis, the way they’re lobbying it is as a religious issue. I would ordinarily agree with your points but evidence points otherwise.

  7. I’m having “Deja vu” reading these reports from Texas,just like Florida in February 2008.
    Same old groundless arguments from people who have little or no science education directed towards professional scientists.
    Are these people really that stupid? I think not. They know exactly what they are doing and what they want to achieve. All is ok when you are “lying for Jesus” need I say more??

  8. OK, I see, the Free Market Foundation is not a business group, they are 1st amendent group like ACLU. It looks like they want to protect religious speech in the classroom. Theirs is a religious, and probably school choice agenda.

    Ed Darrell, I doubt you can trace the failure of Texas schools to the “strengths and weaknesses” language which has been around a couple of decades. I doubt the religious elements supporting the language would oppose GM crops either, they consider environmentalism just someone else’s religion. Do you have a cite for the fire ant speciation, sounds interesting, was hybridization involved?

  9. africangenesis Says:

    Ed Darrell, I doubt you can trace the failure of Texas schools to the “strengths and weaknesses” language which has been around a couple of decades.

    Saenz & Board member Mercer made a big deal of this argument. When asked by Mercer if they had evidence that the language has done damage, the science professors replied that they didn’t have the kind of evidence that would come from systematic studies, but they did know from their teaching experience that Texas high school graduates have been very poorly educated on what science is and how it works.

    Some witnessed testified that Texas science teachers have been intimidated from teaching science, and several said their HS science teachers had avoided evolution altogether. The “strengths and weaknesses” language is obviously not the exclusive cause of this situation, but it is a key element in maintaining the regime of untruth that evidently has harmed Texas science education over recent decades.

  10. africangenesis said: “If the strength and weakness language was about religion, why hasn’t it happened yet? It has been around for one to two decades. Aren’t you just fearmongering, or engaging in guilt by association?”

    You still aren’t making any sense. Is it time for some medication?

    What does whether or not the “strength and weakness language” is about religion have to do with its persistence? Preventing its inclusion has required determination, vigilence and fight, regardless of the motivations behind it. Without those efforts aimed at real scientific neutrality, it would have “happened” long ago. The persistence is a product of the thickheaded inanity of the provocateurs.

    There are reasons to be fearful, though undaunted, and those associated with its inclusion are guilty: of phoniness; of not putting children first (though they “believe” they are, because they decide what’s true rather than determine it); of not putting education first; of disrespecting opinions other than their own; and more.

  11. J.J., The persistence of the strengths and weaknesses language without the occurance of the introduction of religion into the classroom that is being fearmongered about, it evidence that you may be wrong about the extent of their intent.

  12. ag, do you have kids?

    I do, and they’ve come home with stories about being told in class that Genesis is right and evolution false. It’s not done very overtly; teachers would get in trouble for that.

    Did you review the recordings of the SBOE committee meetings of Nov. 19? McLeroy raised essentially the same objection you have, that the people raising a fuss are those who are opposed to the “strengths and weaknesses” language. Well, duh. A terrorist doesn’t try to attract attention to himself; that’s up to the person who’s trying to catch him. The terrorist lays low until it’s time to commit the act.

    Does this really need to be explained?

    There’s enough evidence, with material such as Dunbar’s book and the recording of McLeroy at Grace Bible Church, that a process like the Kitzmiller trial would unquestionably yield similar results as obtained there. Some people just can’t keep their mouth shut. Nor should they, if they’re honest. In contrast to your definition of truthfulness, a person who asserts as true something he doesn’t know to be true, or who withholds information that would change perceptions if it was disclosed, definitely is a liar. It’s a matter of whether an accurate picture is being portrayed, or people are being deceived. “Deception” is the key word.

  13. JJ, If the “terrorist” has “laid low” for more than a decade are you just engaging in hyperbolic daemonization by calling him a terrorist?

    I have three children and have homeschooled them all. After my own experiences of wasted time, a bullying and anti-academic peer culture, teachers more interested in achieving status within the student peer culture than in teaching, etc., I wasn’t going to institutionalize my children in factory model schools. I unschooled influenced by John Holt, and when they were ready for university they took the GED, and have done well there, and have my values rather than the tattoos, piercings, texting, and obscenity laced culture of their peers. One of them wanted to be a teacher, until the education curriculum gave her a sample of the institutional straight jacket that she would be in, so she diverted to linquistics and intends to homeschool instead.

    You should try to recall how disappointed you were when your summers of learning ended, and factory school with pedandic homework and curriculums oblivious to your current interests consumed and wasted your valuable time. I respected my childrens time and intelligence and individual rights more than that. If you don’t have solutions for the obvious problems of peer culture and teacher dependency and one shoe fits all factory model, perhaps you should let those who recognized the problem earlier have a go at them.

  14. I have three children and have homeschooled them all. After my own experiences of wasted time, a bullying and anti-academic peer culture, teachers more interested in achieving status within the student peer culture than in teaching, etc., I wasn’t going to institutionalize my children in factory model schools. I unschooled influenced by John Holt, and when they were ready for university they took the GED, and have done well there, and have my values rather than the tattoos, piercings, texting, and obscenity laced culture of their peers. One of them wanted to be a teacher, until the education curriculum gave her a sample of the institutional straight jacket that she would be in, so she diverted to linquistics and intends to homeschool instead.

    I’m confused now. You condemn the “anti-academic peer pressure,” but favor anti-academics from the SBOE? Evil is wrong when it’s from the kids, but okay when it’s from elected authorities?

    Why not stand up for right all the time, in all places? Creationism is academically flaccid, academically weak, intellectually poisonous, and scientifically wrong. Teaching kids the wrong stuff has never been indicated to work in leading them to the right stuff later.

  15. “Creationism is academically flaccid, academically weak, intellectually poisonous, and scientifically wrong” and not currently a problem in the schools. I don’t equate the anti-academic peer pressure with the SBOE. On the contrary, they would probably favor more classics and great books in the schools, ala Bill Bennett, demanding higher levels of literacy rather than a dumbed down curriculum. I suspect their history curriculums would be strong as well, probably with readings from the founding fathers, the federalist papers, etc. Hardly anti-academic.

    And I do stand up to creationism and Intelligent Design, I just don’t fear it. I’ve spoken with Behe, and even some of the best young earth creationists. They usually figure out they have to go back to the drawing board. Believe it or not, they actually concede points, although they don’t give up their quest. They aren’t dumb, they do have a mental flexibility that allows them to reconcile all the alleged “errors” in the bible, since their belief system doesn’t allow for errors. I find their thinking very much like attorneys. I don’t think the SBOE members are as extreme or in their class of rigidity.

    I hope you are upset enough with the SBOE to work for school choice, local control and vouchers. Central control did not make the public schools any better, just less responsive and more bureaucratically managed, measured and controlled. The peer culture was in control 40 years ago, and has only gotten worse. I am sure liberals though a federal department of education was a good idea until “no child left behind”. They should remember that they can lose elections.

  16. I’m still confused why, if you’re against central control, you want central control to mess up biology. It sounds like religious fear to me. Why not teach the facts? Why insist on fable where we know better? It’s not academic freedom to teach folderol, it’s foolishness, and sinful (to us Christians, anyway, it’s sinful).

    On the contrary, they would probably favor more classics and great books in the schools, ala Bill Bennett, demanding higher levels of literacy rather than a dumbed down curriculum.

    In the official publications from the Department of Education, in which Bennett laid out the ideal curriculum that was not dumbed down, he cited evolution as necessary knowledge, among the great ideas of western civilization. (See James Madison High School.) Higher levels of literacy are contrary to intelligent design or any other form of creationism in science. Even Bill Bennett knows that.

  17. Creationism not currently a problem in our schools? I have direct personal experience (vicariously through my kids) that contradicts that unfactual statement.

    Creationism has been hard at work in Texas since the days of the Gablers. ( http://www.textbookreviews.org/index.html?content=about.htm ) What’s current about a couple who had their major impact on curricula in Texas back in 1973? We’re still trying to undo the damage they did. Omissions, misrepresentations and disinformation they crafted have been carried forward in Texas textbooks to this day.

    Here’s what a prominent biologist had to say about the Gablers:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/gabler_gone_but_it_makes_no_di.php

  18. I don’t want central control to mess up biology, I’d rather it didn’t have that power. I think the wrong battle is being fought. The “strengths and weaknesses” language has not had the deleterious effect that has been feared, so why is change being sought? Also the importance of evolution is being completely overstated, yes it is the overlying principle that beautifully makes sense of all biology, but why fight this battle for something that will be of use to only a very small percentage of the students after university. The students will find that more knowledge of biochemistry and metabolic pathways and phylogenies will inform far more decisions in their everyday life after school.

    So, even if the fundies succeeded in taking the strengths and weaknesses language to the extreme of not teaching evolution at all, the damage will be minimal, and it may even be beneficial if the time is put to good use. This would not be an issue at all, if the educational establishment and teachers union were not so resistant to school choice and local control. The ideal would be biology being an elective, and not a requirement, and the choice of texts being up to the teacher, with even college texts being allowed if the teacher thinks he/she can make them work and the students can handle the work. A system that respects the values and input of the parents, is much more compatible with the parental investment characteristic of the mammalian lineage. A central “authority” should expect resistance when it messes with mammalian children.

  19. Ed:

    ag’s against central control because, as an ideologue, he sees only one side of the situation. For all his ranting he should explain why, in international surveys, citizens of Scandinavian countries are rated happiest and as having the highest quality of life. Even ultraconserrvative John Stossel’s program, 20/20, concurred that socialist Denmark is where the populace is happiest: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=4086092&page=1

    So what are people like ag trying to accomplish for America? Less happiness? A lower quality of life? Is that what ag wants? That doesn’t align very well with either the Declaration or the Constitution, to say nothing of common sense.

    That’s not to say that socialism is right for us. We’re far too wedded to capitalistic free enterprise. Our current financial crisis, as well as specific occurrences such as recent events at malls the day after Thanksgiving, should cause any thoughtful person to reflect on whether the way we rabidly promote and defend capitalism isn’t fueling something malevolent, though.

    The point, for those too thick to see it, is that there is more than one side to the story. When you see someone ranting about “central conrol” and behaving as if “my side of the story is the only side of the story”, you know you’ve got a closedminded ideologue. Someone who decided what the truth was first, and went forward from there. Someone who would have a natural affinity for fundamentalists, who do the same thing.

  20. ag:

    You’ve “spoken with Behe, and even some of the best young earth creationists”. Under what circumstances? Do you consider yourself unbiased and neutral?

    “…they do have a mental flexibility that allows them to reconcile all the alleged ‘errors’ in the bible”. There’s a word for it: rationalization. There’s no problem with that as a matter of faith and belief. There’s a huge problem with it being introduced into a science curriculum.

    Some of these “alleged ‘errors'” are lock-tight. Like Jesus being at the last supper at Passover and crucified the next day (in the synoptic Gospels), and also being crucified at Passover (in John, who needed a “Passover lamb” allegory). Or the irreconcilable conflicts in the resurrection stories (apologists do reconcile them, as they must, failing to recognize or admit what results when a small probability is multiplied repeatedly). Thousands of these inconsistencies, impossibiilities, inaccuracies, contradictions and fallacies have been chronicled over the centuries. Literally, we’re behind where we were 300 years ago.

    Since you’re so doggedly tenacious about “strengths and weaknesses”, ag, I nominate you to ram that language through our new Bible curriculum.

  21. ag wrote: “I have three children and have homeschooled them all.”

    We didn’t. We want Jefferson’s vision to work, and we think it can. On an individual basis, we know it can.

    “After my own experiences of wasted time, a bullying and anti-academic peer culture, teachers more interested in achieving status within the student peer culture than in teaching, etc.”

    That wasn’t our experience at all.

    “…when they were ready for university they took the GED, and have done well there…”

    If they’re not now succeeding on an international scale, you can’t say mine have suffered in comparison.

    “…and have my values rather than the tattoos, piercings, texting, and obscenity laced culture of their peers.”

    Parents instilling their values in their children is a problem. To see it, remember this: the attackers of 9/11 are the product of parents who instilled their values in their
    children. It’s critical that children learn not to let others do their thinking for them, a syndrome which unfortunately is rampant in these parts. That’s how talk radio got such a foothold. Whatever happened to “teach them how to think, not what to think”?

    “You should try to recall how disappointed you were when your summers of learning ended, and factory school with pedandic homework and curriculums oblivious to your current interests consumed and wasted your valuable time.”

    You actually think you can tell me how things were for me? You have no idea, and you’re off the mark. It was worse than that, but not for the reasons you imagine.

    I’ll bet you still can’t see that the way you start with assumptions and the conclusions toward which you want to drive demonstrates your bias.

    Bias is an intractable problem. Try this: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/selectatest.html

    “I respected my childrens time and intelligence and individual rights more than that.”

    From what you’ve written, I have my reservations about that.

    “If you don’t have solutions for the obvious problems of peer culture and teacher dependency and one shoe fits all factory model, perhaps you should let those who recognized the problem earlier have a go at them.”

    Suggestion: You’d do better asking those of us who never had those problems to begin with how we did it. It just might have had something to do with “anticipation and preparation”.

  22. JJ, What would someone who is not an idealogue look like to you? I don’t seek to impose an ideology on anyone and in return I work against having an ideology imposed upon me. You cite Sweden and Denmark as anecdotes of “happiness” as if that were the standard and conclusive. Both are small homogeneous societies with state control of the education system, perhaps you can argue that being educated to think your happy and respond that way on polls is the same as true happiness. Would they be as happy if the state did not control what they learned, we may never know. The USA is the third most populous nation in the world, and one of the most diverse. Perhaps if you sampled smaller population subsets such as Orange County or Martha’s Vineyard you would find similar levels of happiness. But lets say they aren’t as happy as those in socialized nations, and upon deeper analysis, it has turned out that they have been educated to feel guilty for their wealth, and they shouldn’t feel happy. Do you think their education system should be reformed so that it no longer causes this unhappiness?

    But evidently you are an idealogue that believes that geographical or national collectives are the only proper collectives to compare. There are a number of studies that show that religious people are happier. There are several billion people in this world that probably now wish and would be happier if the USA had more economic growth, and were continuing to lift hudreds of millions out of poverty as the growth engine of the world. Your conclusions based on local conditions in certain areas needs to be seen in perspective.

    The SBOE has a lot of responsibilities other than evolution, so probably they were not elected for the extremity of their views in that area. But overall, they are probably trying to do more to fight the imposition of ideology than to impose an ideology of their own. I don’t see how you can conclude anything else from their support for school choice and vouchers.

    BTW, the happiness results you cite, might have been a result of contagion:

    http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20081204/happiness-is-contagious

  23. “JJ, What would someone who is not an idealogue look like to you?”

    Mainly, that person doesn’t do what I’ve witnessed you doing: start with a conclusion toward which one wants to drive and work backwards. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the key.

    And it’s “ideologue.” You taught your kids spelling, right?

    “I don’t seek to impose an ideology on anyone…”

    You certainly do. The anti-“central control” thing you’re obsessed with.

    …”perhaps you can argue that being educated to think your happy and respond that way on polls is the same as true happiness.”

    Are you offering this as a serious, and not just desperate or wacko, argument? The subject was the outcomes of capitalism and socialism, not education. There’s no indication that education has anything to do with it. You’re engaging in negative proof, false dichotomy, and probably other fallacies I’m not even thinking about.

    The truth, as is well-researched, well-documented and just plain makes common sense, is that people who are well-connected and who have a well-developed sense of community are happiest, certainly happier than those who do not. And that’s a major objection I have to home schooling: is keeping kids away from other kids really such a good idea? I can think of ways in which it is, but overall, I’m glad mine got the high degree of interaction–and I mean HIGH degree of interaction–they did.

    But this is no one-size-fits-all prescription. In my case, family circumstances mandated that they avail themselves of other than home schooling in order to get what we would consider sufficient stimulation. Your case may have been different. And while the cast majority of my neighbors are decent, upstanding, well-educated ccitizens, I know of many whom I would not want home-schooling their children. And I know of charter schools where I wouldn’t want them sending their kids to school.

    Once again, the point is: there are many facets to the situation. An ideologue doesn’t get, or chooses not to get, that.

    “But lets say they aren’t as happy as those in socialized nations, and upon deeper analysis, it has turned out that they have been educated to feel guilty for their wealth, and they shouldn’t feel happy. Do you think their education system should be reformed so that it no longer causes this unhappiness?”

    Let’s say that this is following a conjecture with a rhetorical question. I don’t buy the speculative premises that “they have been educated to feel guilty for their wealth” or that “their education system…causes this unhappiness”, because the probability of their being true is too small. So the question is moot.

    “But evidently you are an idealogue that believes that geographical or national collectives are the only proper collectives to compare.”

    Nope. I’m only staying on topic and using the measuring stick you introduced. Do I have to use every possible example to satisfy you? Who’s the ideologue, again?

    “There are a number of studies that show that religious people are happier.”

    Absolutely. Might the fact that they operate in the emotional (called by them, “spiritual”) realm have something to do with it?

    They’re good at what they do, and despite being unhappy with the way they disrespect truth, I’m not in favor of dismantling them. They’ve been at it for a long time now.

    “Your conclusions based on local conditions in certain areas needs to be seen in perspective.”

    Oh, there certainly is more than one side to the story. For example, while I admire the Danes for more than their happiness and quality of life, such as their early and successful commitment to weaning themselves from fossil fuels, my family probably couldn’t bear to live in as homogeneous, and consequently prejudicial, a society as theirs. It would drive us nuts.

    It would be a vast improvement in comparison to what I’ve already been through, though.

    Perspective is a matter of being able to see things from others’ points of view (or not). In a post above you tried telling me what my life experience was like, without having been given any facts to back up your assumptions. That said a lot. You might want to reconsider telling others what “needs to be seen in perspective.”

    “…overall, they are probably trying to do more to fight the imposition of ideology than to impose an ideology of their own.”

    It may look that way, but are you familiar with, or did you read the material on, the Gablers? It’s not so much that anyone’s trying to instill ideology (and I’d argue that the pro-evolution crowd isn’t ideological any more than a judge who has already been through an exhaustive trial is “ideological” about its outcome). It’s that they’re fighting to undo damage that was done back in 1973, and has never been corrected.

    Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find out about it until recently, after most of my kids were finished with the curriculum. As a non-political person, it was difficult to discover “disinformation by omission”. Now that I know about it, I’m appalled at what’s going on.

    You can have the last word.

  24. JJ, You don’t like central control either , when you disagree with it, that’s the reason your on this blog. So, have your kids spent two evenings reading “The Selfish Gene” to make up for the omision yet or are they busy texting, listening to ho and bitch rap, playing first person shooter games, and getting tattoos and piercings? A large percentage of kids are immersed in just such a culture in the schools. The schools were already becoming zoos in the 60s, although I think Texas may have held out a little longer.

    What would you want central control for, if not to impose an ideology, are there Texas sized economies of scale? The founders were suspicious of central control.

  25. A large percentage of kids are immersed in just such a culture in the schools.

    Not because of the schools, however. The schools don’t promote rap. The schools don’t play it, for the most part. You’re confusing capitalists who exploit the wishes and desires of teenagers with educators. That’s a key part of the problem here, the inability of the ideologues to separate spheres that should be separated sometimes. Rap isn’t the failure of the schools so much as it is the failure of the churches, who have the charge to help things in the home, after all.

    Why is it the schools always have to be the places we clean up after the failures of the churches?

  26. Ed Darrell,

    The schools have the children for 6-7 hours a day, and counting homework, transportation, and just the inefficiencies of a rigid schedule control another 2 to 4 hours. The age segregated environment, boredom or stress of material too slow or too fast, peer pressure to conform, and grow up too fast. Yes, the media feeds into it, but the school environment is alienating, and the idealogues who have claim too much ability to separate spheres, which are subjective and arbitrarily divisive are the ones who have interests in using the platform of “educator” to evangelize the kids to their ideology.

    You should realize that the dialectic and historical determinism are matters of faith that perhaps provide a framework for divisive, daemonizing story telling but can’t be rigorously defended. The choice of an antithesis to a thesis is subjective, and opposing an ambiguously defined bourgeoise to the proletariat is no more justified that choosing a rock or a plant as the antithesis instead.

    Human altruism and community evolved on a tribal or extended family scale, and the tendency to identity, we and they, enemies without and sometimes within, has been easy for mass collectives to exploit by nation states, religions and ideologies. Evolution also erred on the side of see patterns even in noise becuase missing a threat was more costly than false positives. Reason is perhaps a defense against this which balances the equations, but for most it is not as powerful as emotion and identity. In one thought experiment, I hypothesize the neaderthal as the rational beast, and that the modern human innovation was fanaticism. It doesn’t fit the facts of course, but the plausibility of a tendency to collective fanaticism as increasing fitness in group competition for resources is sobering.

  27. The schools have the children for 6-7 hours a day, and counting homework, transportation, and just the inefficiencies of a rigid schedule control another 2 to 4 hours.

    Oh, if only that were true! With 6 hours a day we could get every child a commended rating on the Texas standardized tests.

    You assume that kids pay attention at least 50% of the time, which is a bad assumption, and you forget to factor in lunches, recesses, and all the other stuff that goes along with modern schooling. You also assume that kids leave behind what they do the other 17 to 18 hours, and that’s just not the case.

    You should realize that folderol about dialectic and historical determinism is as far from modern teaching methodologies and theories as the closest black hole is from the Earth. You take what kids get out of school, blame the schools for that misinformation and miseducation, and then cite that as reason to keep kids in the environment where they get miseducated, AG. Interesting hypothesis, but not something that is grounded in research on how kids learn.

  28. The schools have improved if the kids are now getting recesses! When we were considering putting my eldest in a 1st grade public school (Richmond, Tx), the 1st through 3rd graders were only getting 2 recesses a week, and the regular curriculum was being replaced 6 weeks in advance to teach to the test. The children weren’t allowed to talk at lunch time, and teachers were patrolling the halls with paddles, and children seemed to spend half their time standing in lines. At that age, perhaps more recesses and naps would increase attention spans.

    The factory model schools teach the subjects at their convenience and not when the kids or if the kids are interested. The age segredated peer group values, devalue academics itself. If the kids devalue education, and are lectured to, when they aren’t interested, no wonder they only pay attention less than half the time.

    The dialectic and historical determinism are part and parcel of the same exploitation victimhood philosophy that blames the “capitalists”. Are you sure it doesn’t sneak into schools as daemonization of commercialism, consumption, unsustainable development, and profit? Less time should be spent using access to the kids to push that philosophy, and public service, social responsibility, environmentalism, and political correctness.

    Education research is a “social science”. I’ve seen education research at the university level, it can usually only measure retention of facts, and not whether the facts are understood or valued. The particularly example showed that frequent testing increased retention. Unfortunately testing consumed so much of the class time that they didn’t get to the part of the subject matter my daughter was interested in, it definitely turned her off of psychology.

    Education isn’t a science yet, learning styles awareness might inspire individualized approaches, but nothing replaces the curiosity and interest of child as a spur to learning. Processes are more important than materials like curriculum. Active and critical listening and watching are good exercises for the mind, and discussion is an enjoyable social activity. Real books are more interesting than text books precisely because they are real. Stories are more interesting that facts, but increase retention of the facts that interest the student in a natural way.

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