Saturday, September 15, 2012

Not a good enough reason....

"By studying biology you can make informed decisions on issues that impact you and our society."
Modern Biology textbook, HRW, 2006

Pretty much every high school biology textbook uses this claim to justify biology as part of the high school curriculum. This was a load of crap when I was a high school student decades ago, and it's still a bucket of swill.

If God Herself came down from the heavens and loudly announced to every lucid American that our current cultural choices are unsustainable--and the overwhelming evidence is that they are--we'd burn a few calories waggling our tongues, then get in our SUVs and drive through McDonald's drive-thrus to pick up dinner.

Photo from McDonald's website--and they still look awful.

American doctors know the stuff of high school biology--yet over 40% stuff their bellies enough to be overweight anyway.

Teachers can no more cure ignorance than doctors can cure obesity.

I know my stuff, and I'm getting better each year at sharing it with young adults. But unless I can convince a child biology is worth knowing, I can't charm anyone through the state's end of course exam.

It's a difficult task because knowing biology per se won't fix anything--the wise kids know this. And most kids are wise.

Every student, wise or not, watches the adults in a school building. They need to, there are a lot of bullies and knuckleheads in any adult population, and those in schools wield tremendous power over children. For many students, maybe most, school is simply about surviving.

I'm a reasonably (OK, maybe ridiculously) happy person. A lot of teachers are. A few are miserable, true, but they don't last long in high schools. My happiness may be partly genetic, but a good chunk of it comes from my day to day connection with the muck of life that surrounds us. The world is worth knowing.

My happiness floats around my room like the mesmerizing tune of the Pied Piper, and kids follow. Most do not yet know how richly connected they are to the world, the living world that is so much bigger and complex than any of us can imagine, a world that belongs to them, though few know this...yet.

The point of education is to give a child a chance to pursue happiness. Sounds quaint now, maybe even a bit soft, but it was once considered an "inalienable Right"--ol' Mr. Jefferson himself penned that.

I don't know how much Thomas Jefferson knew about the high school biology of his time, but just about everybody then knew where there food came from and where their crap went. I'd bet very few of them would ever choose to eat a McNugget if they were available. Not because they were told not to, but because a freshly slaughtered bird simply tastes better.

Eating good food makes us happy, reason enough.

Why are we so afraid of happiness....?


John Spencer said...

Likewise, you don't learn citizenship by studying eight tidy little pillars. It happens when you see injustice, when you discover empathy, when you experience democracy and when you ask questions. A textbook chapter on "democracy in action" is an endorsement of "democracy inaction."

doyle said...

Dear John,