Sunday, January 30, 2011

Education in America: The Farce

When I read an article like this one, I am not the least bit surprised. Being a trained engineer (we actually take science classes in college), a devote Mormon, and a firm believer in evolution (and not just the micro-evolution schtick that creationists make up; I am talking the full blown macro-evolution cat gives birth to a dog spiel that they try and dance around), I am usually appalled by the treatment of science in schools. Mostly thought I am appalled at the whole "qualifying teachers" aspect to education.

Study after study has shown that colleges of education have the lowest performing students of any of the colleges at universities. Go to any university campus and I guarantee you that there will be plenty of jokes among the student body about the education students. At Texas A&M, the joke was you went to college as an education major in order to find a husband. Does this mean that every one with an education degree is a blithering moron? No, there are quite a few smart ones that I have met (coincidentally, none off of the top of my head are actually teaching school).

To compare to the college of Engineering at Texas A&M, when I started as a freshman, probably 80% of the freshman in my dorm were engineering majors. By sophomore year that had dropped to less than 50% and by junior year it was down to 25% where it remained fairly stable through graduation. I never heard of anyone (not saying it didn't happen) who transferred into engineering from the business college or the education college. I did know one person who got a degree in psychology and then came back and got a degree in engineering after realizing that she didn't like her job options. Of course, if she had have started in engineering she would have been successful and saved herself $20K and 4 years.

So why the drop in numbers? Because some people can't hack it. It may be they aren't smart enough, it may be that they don't have the work ethic, it may be that they don't like dealing with fractions. That's OK. Unfortunately, we have turned education (at least on the public side) into a game of the lowest common denominator. If we know that the majority of our biology teachers are waffling (for whatever reason) on a scientific theory that is widely accepted and has been thoroughly debated to the point that those who dismiss it are seen as crackpots by the scientific community, then what hope do we have for English, math, and history.

Lest anyone try to say that Einstein was considered a crackpot with his theories, let us remember that he proposed something new that the scientific community had not had time to investigate. After years of investigation, we have come to realize he was right in many things and wrong in a very few (and those things he was wrong on were usually due to oversimplification of the issue).

Evolution is not some new theory, although based on the training the colleges of education give, it may very well be.

And if you think that evolution entails cats giving births to dogs, you are either dishonest or need your head examined.

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