Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hunting tadpoles in an NGSS world

Photo by Jessica Pierce, with permission
I am going tadpole hunting with my aunt and uncle in an hour. We'll creep along the edge of a pond, muck around our ankles and nets in hand, dodging poison ivy and biting bugs, because it brings us joy.

Between the three of us we have over two centuries of living and hours to play on weekends, and this is what we chose to do, even in the 21st century. We have evolved little in the past few thousand years, despite what the futurists would have you believe.

Plants are aware, if not conscious. They are as much alive as you and me, and in many ways far more sophisticated. They communicate to each other, and to animals. They respond subtly, precisely to the world around them, and are more aware of what's happening than most "civilized" humans.

Without a background in natural history, without a childhood immersed in the natural world, a child in our culture has little chance of realizing the lives of the living beings around us. Without this knowledge, all the talk of "interdependent relationships in ecosystems" is like the love song of a twisted psychotic stalker--not just meaningless, but passionately dangerous.

NGSS promotes the practice of science; it does little to promote natural history. This matters. It's like learning the mechanics of sex by using a mannequin--it can be done, but really, what's the point? If a child doez nort fall in love with the natural world, with its deep nuances and rhythms, with its internal beauty, then pushing her to become a scientist becomes a cruel exercise. Benchwork is a hard, lonely business.

Take a child tadpole hunting--you'll do more good for America than anything I can do within the cinder block walls of my classroom.

Ironically, even corporattions would benefit--you want scientists?
Let children roam in the real world.


Susan Eckert said...

All good points, but if a child in a science class is not experiencing the natural world, I'd place the blame on the teachers not the standards. You can teach the standards any way you want, right? And with the world right outside of the classroom the students are sitting in.

My colleague did. See here:

And here:

Shameless self-promotion of the MHS blog!

But am I missing your point?

Just Me said...

I think that the beauty of natural world comes from my family. As a child we spent countless hours in summer and evenings. I bring that excitement into the class but it is my responsblity as a parent to show how to interact with all living things.

doyle said...

Dear Susan,

I suspect that much of the standards, particularly at the biochemical level, cannot be taught well outside. To be fair, I doubt those particular standards could be taught well indoors, either.

Kudos to the work MHS is doing!

Dear Just Me,

Ah, I agree that families should lead the way, but given a variety of circumstances, many cannot. Public education teachers have a huge job.

clar said...

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What do animals eat?

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