Friday, December 10, 2004

Well, Duh

Thomas Sowell has a new column on education in our nation's high schools. Here's an excerpt:

What about the ethics of using steroids? Kids can talk about this at home or on the streets or just about anywhere. What about the ethics of using up precious school time for such chatter when there are serious deficiencies in our children's ability to measure up to international standards in an increasingly competitive international economy? Presiding over classroom chatter is no doubt a lot easier than teaching the Pythagorean theorem or differential calculus. But teachers who indulge themselves like this, at the expense of their students' future, have no business conducting discussions of "ethics" about athletes using steroids -- or any other ethics issue. Jason Giambi may have done some damage to his own career, and to George Steinbrenner's pocketbook, by taking steroids. But that is nothing compared to the damage done to schoolchildren whose time is frittered away talking about it when there is serious work that remains undone.
With all the outcry about the "outsourcing" of American jobs, especially in computer work, there has been relatively little said about the importing of brains from foreign countries to do mentally challenging work here because the brains of our own students have simply not been adequately developed in our schools. For years, most of the Ph.D.s awarded by American universities in mathematics and engineering have gone to foreigners. We have the finest graduate schools in the world -- so fine that our own American students have trouble getting admitted in fields that require highly trained minds.

My daughter is taking a class in middle school on "recycling". This pisses me off to no end. While I am not opposed to recycling and other environmentally-friendly things, I am angered that this "class" takes up time that could be spent in science, history, language arts, or math. They are constantly increasing the amount of time students spend in schools and with classes like recycling wasting student's time, I can understand why. Especially in Ann Arbor there seems to be an inordinate amount of environmentalism is the K-12 curriculum. Again, no argument that it is something that is worth study--in college, maybe. But kindergardeners? Recycling for middle schoolers? My impression is that rather than study this as a science, it is being presented more as propaganda.

Just imagine if history topics or math and science topics were given such special consideration. Say a special class in WWII; or maybe a special class on the Greek mathematicians? Maybe students would know about Auschwitz; or understand some basic economic principles. Maybe they'd even score higher in science and math. Well, Duh.

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