Monday, April 12, 2004

I knew we should have been pushing the Scientific Method more

when I was teaching grade-school science. Remember when Ross Perot got all in arms about football coaches teaching math? Well, he had a point.

Here's an article that made my skin crawl a bit, mainly because I knew five years ago (and even from my own experience as a student in elementary and highschools) that most American educational institutions were poorly equipped to teach students in the areas of Science, Math and Technology.

There are schools and programs out there that encourage activities in technology. Some of these programs such as StRUT (Students Recycling Used Technology) are not affiliated with the PS systems (thank god). However, these are volunteer organizations. I've considered it before, but I would love to pioneer some sort of curriculum development or actual program which educated children on computer tech that focused on actual building of technology, understanding products and software. Among other goals such a program should focus on helping students explore and even build systems... and this should be something available to all students from all neighborhoods (poor and rich alike). God, I sound like something on the side of a box of McDonaldland cookies.

More, I do think it's very important to help children understand the value of critical thinking in science (ie. how to set up tests, controlled experiments). We go over this in schools, but I don't think we do the best job. I think I had too many teachers who made it sound so fucking boring and laborious that it's amazing that I even developed an interest in science at all. Also, to be frank, most teachers I came across (especially in the elementary level) had a somewhat strong aversion to teaching science and working with computers.... in a public school where I held a regular position. I think many of the teachers used computer time to just drop their students off a the computer lab to play 'educational games.' These teachers spoke out vociferously against having the lab split up to bring computers into their rooms. On top of this I saw that many local districts favored Macs versus PC's. While this may have made sense from a maintenance and user-friendly point of view, at the time it limited students to only the most superficial experience with computers in the sense that they were used as a tool just to run applications (not that this isn't helpful... it just isn't enough). We're not expecting them to become versed in LINUX...well, not just yet.

We will have to rely on the innovation of the next generation to become forerrunners in sci-tech. We may be short of jobs for the short-term, but hopefully as this article in Wired points out, necessity is the mother of invention. I still would like to see a somewhat detailed game plan for the directions we should be going in


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