Archive for Education

I Do Love My State

I have been sans internet (and worse, sans news) for the last several weeks, so I’m sorry for the sudden disappearance of sane, conservative-taunting, bleeding heart commentary you’ve come to expect from me.

With that out of the way, I have this little bit of news I heard last night listening to my local Air America/Nova M/Mother Jones radio station. Oregon is now the seventh state to protect student journalists in high school and college from censorship, even from their parents. If a student-run paper is censored by the administration, they can now sue for relief (a provision that would allow for recovery of attorney fees was stricken from the bill, unfortunately). A small victory, yes, but a sweet one.

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Apologia for Evolution

A departure from politics today. I’ve encountered a barrage of anti-evolution comments and websites recently, so I felt like I had to respond. The easiest way seems to be to debunk some of the worst and most common arguments against evolution. Just a note, I’m feeling snarky today, so edit out the snark if you’re actually arguing with a creationist.
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This Is So [expletive deleted] Wrong

In the category of “Wrong Response,” the winner is… a school district in New Jersey. When a teacher at Kearny High School made several, shall we say, unjustified comments to his class (we’ll get to what she said in a moment), a junior there decided enough was enough and he would go to the school board. However, since he was only a student, he thought they wouldn’t believe him, so he decided to record the class on audio tape.

What did he record? The teacher telling his class that the big bang and evolution were unscientific, that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s ark, and that if you did not accept Jesus Christ as your savior (hallelujah!) , you would burn in Hell for all eternity. So, what do you think the school board did when they heard the tape? Well, first they reprimanded (not fired) the teacher. Then, they banned taping classes without permission from the teacher.

Well, it turns out that the teacher has not learned his lesson. Apparently the same student that taped him in September now says that he compared the people who believe in global warming (aka scientists) to Hitler. What, exactly, does it take to fire a teacher?

The teacher in question is male, not female, as I stated before. (I’m not entirely sure how I missed that.)

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Single Sex Education Turns Ugly

There’s an article on Slate highlighting some of the problems of single-sex education. Although I think some kids might benefit from the lack of distraction (certain boy-obsessed teenage girls I once knew come to mind), proponents are now pointing to the innate differences in male and female brains and saying that we need to tailor education to each sex.

I’m not an extreme gender feminist, and I do think that there are differences in average male and female brains, but it’s dangerous to go from average to individual. These educators are saying that, since the average boy is more mathematical than verbal, and the average girl is more verbal than mathematical, we should play to their instincts. One problem. I’m a guy, and I’m a hell of a lot better with words than with numbers.

They want girls to read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Beloved, etc. and role play; while they have boys read Hemmingway and Lord of the Flies and make maps. This is a horrible idea for young women who are spatial or young men who are predominantly verbal (like me).

And what about the fact that, if girls are so different from boys, they will have different insights and teach each other?

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