“Even though I'm a Christian and to believe there is a Creator (or Designer), the anti-evolution people really bug me with trying to include their point of view in science classes. It scares me because I see our country going downhill in science. Much of our country's greatness and progress and innovation has come about because of great science, and if we lose our competitive advantage in that area, we are really in trouble.”
This comment was left on one of my journal entries and I couldn’t agree more, but I believe that the problem goes deeper than the Creationist crowd. There’s something missing. Something that has disappeared in the last twenty years or so.
There were a series of excellent documentaries on PBS in the seventies and eighties. It started with the excellent English series, The World at War. It included the Body in Question produced Jonathon Miller. The Ascent of Man produced by Jacob Bronowski. Bronowski’s work also included books and lectures on human intelligence and philosophy. David Attenborough produced two gems, Life on Earth and the Living Planet. Carl Sagan’s thirteen episode Cosmos still holds up very well in the post Hubble universe. The first Connections series and the Day the Universe Changed with James Burke are delightful if opinionated. The delight is in the British humor and being opinionated doesn’t bother me as long as the author lets me know where he’s coming from.
All these documentaries had several tings in common. All the producers had a passion for their work and were driven to share what they loved. There is a drive and a fire that shines through every frame.
They also believed that the material they were presenting was accessible to any interested viewer. There is magic in their work that I just don’t see anymore. Where we had work on how the world works, we’re stuck with documentaries on UFO’s, Nostrodamus, tanks, and warships. This Old House still tries to show you how to rehab or even build a house. But too many shows focus on buying one. They don’t even go into how to buy a house just show you someone looking at houses and not being impressed.
I love the documentaries of Ken burns. They are beautifully done. The photography is spectacular, the music well chosen, and the use of archived photos fantastic. But there is something missing for me. The fire just isn’t there. I can still hear David Attenborough in his first documentary about tribal art. He was in New Guinea in pursuit of masks made by a particular tribe. He and his crew had climbed x number of mountains, crossed y number of rivers and “if we don’t get out before the rainy season starts, we’re going to be here for awhile.”
I think the missing magic is part of the problem with science education in this country. That and a few other things. When I was a kid we had two TV stations, one theater, and no video games. I did have access to fairly decent school and public libraries. Books on history, rivers, mountains, other countries, science fiction or science fact passed through my eager little hands. If it was that black on that white my name was on the check out card and my library card was a little tattered.
My five nephews are all very bright boys and get good grades. Unfortunately, they all seem to have a lamentable lack of curiosity and spend far more time playing video games than reading any more than they have to.
I don’t care how good these games are for eye-hand coordination. They are reactive, no proactive. From what I’ve seen looking over their shoulders they’re more about blowing things up than building them. None of them show any interest in careers in math, science or anythng creative. At an age when kids should be chasing bugs and turning over every rock these kids are pushing buttons.
2 days ago