Why the US is Flunking in Science
The main claim of univironmental determinism (UD)* was grandly illustrated once again in a comprehensive study of science teaching in the US.
Sadly, my home state, Wisconsin, received an F; happily, my refuge state, California, received an A+:
The report covers 4 main reasons for the US ranking only 23rd in 65 countries for science proficiency among 15-year olds:
1. “The undermining of evolution through a variety of methods, both involving the legislature (as in Louisiana’s “academic freedom” act that allows the teaching of intelligent design creationism) and more subtle incursions, like Colorado and West Virginia’s mandate that the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution be discussed, while of course other “theories” don’t come in for such treatment.
2. Vague standards that give teachers little guidance. The report mentions, as two examples, “A middle school teacher in New Hampshire, for example, will come face to face with the following: ‘Identify energy as a property of many substances.’ Pennsylvania offers the equally baffling ‘Explain the chemistry of metabolism.’ Such empty statements can do little to inform curriculum development or instruction, and give no guidance to assessment developers.”
3. The promotion of “inquiry based learning” without any guidance to teachers how to implement it. The report notes, “Iowa schoolchildren are directed to: ‘Make appropriate personal/lifestyle/technology choices, evaluate, observe, discuss/debate, recognize interactions and interdependencies at all levels, explain, describe environmental effects of public policy, choose appropriate course(s) of action.‘ Such statements are devoid of any teachable content and leave teachers with no guidance as to how they can incorporate genuine scientific inquiry skills into their instruction.” Further, many states say nothing about the history of science, which is essential for teaching students how science works and how to be critical.
4. There’s not enough math. As the report notes, things are far too qualitative, perhaps catering to students’ “mathophobia”: ”Mathematics is integral to science. Yet few states make the link between math and science clear—and many seem to go to great lengths to avoid mathematical formulae and equations altogether. The result is usually a clumsy mishmash of poor writing that could much more easily and clearly be expressed in numbers.”
Of course, the success of the program is really measured by how well it produces students who “think like a scientist.” That kind of thinking, of course, is directly opposed to the woo-woo stuff that most kids are exposed to even before reaching the classroom. I sympathize completely with teachers who must explain to kids that Earth is really not 6,000 years old and that their origins have nothing to do with snakes, apples, and ribs. It is one big battle just to teach the limited form of evolution common only to biology (neo-Darwinism). Can you imagine what it would take to teach UD as the universal mechanism of evolution? Nonetheless, that is what science is all about. You can teach bits and pieces of it in the various specialties, but the overall guiding principle eventually will be UD.
But as UD predicts, the microcosm of science cannot advance significantly faster than the macrocosm of the society in which it exists. It is not for nothing that the US is home to the Big Bang Theory, and will continue to be so for the next 4 decades. The change will come as the accommodationists (even among evolutionists) gradually realize that the US cannot afford both science and religion.
*The scientific philosophy that whatever happens to an xyz portion of the universe is determined by the infinite matter in motion within and without.