Another few clambeds are opening in Jersey today.
Been a long couple of months.
"All the scientists say that the quahogs don't move, they don't go up and down [in the winter when the water is colder]. We claim they do… You have a rake with longer teeth, you catch 'em. With shorter teeth, you don't."
I'm going quahogging today. I borrowed my nephew's new rake last time out, but that was a mistake. His rake is lighter, with sharper tongs. Mine is held together with hose clamps and duct tape, and gets heavier every year.
It's a little chillier now, and the clams a little deeper.
No matter what the scientists say....
Except they never said it.
***We confuse experts with scientists.
We confuse the process of science with its results.
A child with a decent grasp of science knows less of a bigger world, and that's the point.
No expert ever made a living by claiming ignorance, but pleading ignorance is what scientists do.
It's hard to test ignorance when "knowledge" is the point, and it's hard to teach science when standardized tests focus on this-thing-we-do-in school-we-call-science.
Here's a sample question:
|Straight from the NJ Student Preparation Booklet|
It's a bad question--we all want to maintain cellular respiration, at least those of us planning on staying conscious for more than a few seconds. Flow of energy is a theme in my classroom, as it should be in any biology class.
Athletes do not want to maintain "constant" cellular respiration anyway--makes no sense, except for maybe a sprinter, and even they remain still a moment before the gun goes off.
It's a trick question because kids will jump on to ATP as the answer because that sounds "scientifical."
If I do my job right, my kids will dissect the question, grasp its inanity, and (I pray) choose C to help me keep my job, but many won't.
And here in New Jersey, we're headed to a teacher evaluation system based solely on "student achievement" as determined by the same folks who wrote that question--which means I have a hard choice.
Teach my lambs to learn how to think, to see a sliver of a vast and terrible beauty of the universe in and around them. Or train them to heel.
We are all naturalists on the clam flats, under the low steely December sky and a sun that barely rises over the bay's edge. You cannot hope to make a scientist out of a child until she is, in a real sense, a naturalist.
Until she gets to choose which rake she needs, based on the natural world around her, based on her needs and her knowledge, and not the rants of experts spewing pseudo-science, we will continue to produce generations of people who worship the Gardners and Marzanos around us.
Every field has charlatans, and right now the charlatans are winning.
Me? I'm teaching science while I can, and clamming when I can.
The flats feed me, literally and metaphorically.
Experts do neither.
Yeah, all over the map...I need to get outside.
Photos by Leslie.
Photos by Leslie.