Thursday, August 1, 2013

iPlant before iPad

A rambling preamble that finally gets to this point:
If a kid knows more about screens than seeds, our republic is doomed.

I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws our country.

The "example" was the British aristocracy, long before we were saddled with the American sort, a particularly hideous blend of corporate money and private power feared by the author of the above, Thomas Jefferson.

Public schools are in trouble because our status as a republic in trouble.
State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules.

Children should learn science as a means to know the natural world, and as a source of joy, but neither of these is sufficient to justify its high cost in public school.

I think the most important reason children need science is to develop a rational skepticism.
Our freedom to doubt was born of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle. Permit us to question -- to doubt, that's all -- and not to be sure.   
--Richard Feynman

Our children are being led astray by "artificial rules." They spend hours a day in an artificial universe that alternates smacking around their amygdalas with squeezing pulses of dopamine from their brains. Our children live in a constant state of the edge of fulfilled desire, prepping them for a life as consumers.

So I'm making a small change in my classroom this year.
No machines until you grow something in class, something from seed, something you can eat.
I'm even tempted to make eating a part of the plant the student grows part of the requirement.

A student grew this, but was afraid to eat it--so I did.

Once a student shows me she knows what a seed is capable of becoming, then she can turn her attention back to the machine. And she will.

But someday, when she realizes something is fundamentally wrong, she just might remember the carrot.

Democracy works for farmers....

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