About this site

Education is a multifaceted process, and the quagmire in which it currently is has been formed by a web of wrong ideas and ideologies coming from diverse disciplines like philosophy, psychology, sociology, economics, religion, even Eastern mysticism. To correct the wrong path taken, every now and then a committee comes up with a new “strategic” plan or a new method of teaching, accompanied by huge publicity and fanfare, only to watch it fail and a new committee to form. To illustrate the proliferation of these committees, I list some of the ones formed to address the scientific illiteracy of the American public, followed by a very brief description of their recommendations for the goal of science education:

  • National Education Association (NEA) Committee of Ten (1918, 1920): for the activities of life.
  • National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE) (1932)usefulness to individuals … intelligent participation in a democratic society.
  • NSSE (1947): solving problems of human society.
  • NSSE (1960): helping decide how scientific knowledge will be used.
  • National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (1971): making everyday decisions in interacting with other people and the environment.
  • National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983): should be the cure for the declining economic position of the U.S. in the world.
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1989, 96): evaluating the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source [such as an article in a professional physics journal!] and the methods used to generate it.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (2013): The latest attempt …

… and the academic standards keep falling in the U.S!

And as long as these committees set goals that either subordinate science to its utility in solving social and economic problems, or are so ridiculously ambitious that no teacher can attain them, the standards continue to fall.

The solution to the educational quandary is not easy, and the problem is not solved by executive summaries. It is a social problem that goes deep into the psyche of the American culture and history. The pages and posts of this site are just the starting points. Read them, and if you find a grain of truth in them, build on it and post your thoughts. If enough concerned and dedicated heads are put together, a solution is bound to show up.

3 thoughts on “About this site”

  1. I’m an Adolescent Medicine physician with an engineering degree from Princeton, and I have read every issue of Sci. American since it was given to me by my MD grandfather when I was a sophomore in high school. I’m an NIH researcher in the field of
    Adolescent Hematology-Oncology, who for the last 20 years has done general practice Adol. Med. My observation is that early adolescence is the ideal time to stimulate “STEM” type thinking to these kids. Unfortunately, by middle school, those able to grasp these concepts are so few that most Engineering students at Princeton now arrive from Asia and India. I have little to add at this point, since I haven’t given the subject much thought; only that in 20 years I found only 4 seniors at 5 area high schools whom I could recommend to my alma mater. I retired 2 years ago and would like to conjtribute to your blog.
    Ted Doering Princeton BSE “65 Northwestern Univ. MD 1969

  2. It is hard to find people like you in today’s world. Everybody is believing everything out there. I’m a medical student, I expected my class to have people that would be quick debunking false science but it was actually the opposite… and i gotta tell you it is so irritating that that these guys don’t wanna think and read further. They just wanna believe what they believe. One on the few things that i have been giving to read was this stupid story:
    In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

    “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

    The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

    The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

    The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

    The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

    “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

    The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

    The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

    Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

    To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” – Útmutató a Léleknek

    1. That’s a great story to debunk stupid beliefs! It is the epitome of people believing in stories that agree with their limited knowledge of the outside world. Another is the proverbial opponent of (writing) literacy who showed an illiterate crowd the letters “S-N-A-K-E” and a live snake and asked “which one is a snake?” to which the crowed responded with a roar “the one that moves.”

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