Sunday, August 14, 2005

BUTTON PUSHING

“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.

6 comments:

toonguykc said...

Wow!  You really hit the nail on the head with the term "lamentable lack of curiousity"!  I'm grateful that there were only 4 channels and no video games when I was a kid.  

Russ

lisaram1955 said...

My nephew is another prime example of exactly what you have pointed out here.  He DOES have some coordination issues that other kids probably don't...but I still can't deal with the concept of an eleven-year-old boy who can't ride a bike and throws a ball like a three-year-old...  Lisa  :-]

schoolgal040 said...

Hello Jackie,
I just love this entry so much! What a great and very valid point you make with resources for everyone to investigate, if they choose. One can hope that they will. I think that the "younger" generation of today has most definiely lost the verve and interest in science, creation and even the technical aspects of biology and medicine.
I am fascinated with them all and that is why at the age of 40 (2 years ago) was my choice for my degree. I waited for 25 years to go to school and pray that our youth does not wait as long as I did. I have maybe 6 to 8 months left and I will have my degree and be a licensed Medical Coder. It's a mixture of everything in medicine! People say that Medical Coders are jus for billing purposes........wrong. It's very difficult field and really holds my attention and wanting to be better and better.

Thank you so much for this entry and for always stopping by my journal. I know I don't always post comments, but know that I always read your journal..faithfully.

God Bless as always,
Gayla
http://journals.aol.com/schoolgal040/SoMuchMore

martnessmonstr said...

Hello Jackie-
Very interesting -
I think that unfortunately most advances in science have come thru warfare.

I also very much liked the Connections series.

I know I'm often kinda pessimistic , but when it comes to todays kid, I'm reminded of a piece of graffitti found on a wall in the excavations in Pompeii-
it basically despaired of the next generation calling the kids lazy and hedonistic.

hestiahomeschool said...

Well, you know what I think about modern education....my kids are extremely curious, and during the outdoor play we attended tonight, Shelby was much more interested in turning over rocks to look for bugs than watching the actors !  ROFL

cste609371 said...

I love the your journal. Its so true, Kids need to be kids - chase bugs and have fun. They do learn so much from out door play & changing seasons. We can teach them so much by just pointing out lessions in nature & letting  them play/learn from nature.