I think The Huffington Post has outdone itself on the bullshit factor. We now have all-encompassing metawoo. Consider this about the supposed harm that our current methods of teaching science inflict upon the young:
When educators try to inculcate children with the scientific method, the main legacy of traditional science, the outcome is often an educational train wreck. As Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Empathic Civilization, puts it:
[T]he scientific method [is] an approach to learning that has been nearly deified in the centuries following the European Enlightenment. Children are introduced to the scientific method in middle school and informed that it is the only accurate process by which to gather knowledge and learn about the real world around us … The scientific observer is never a participant in the reality he or she observes, but only a voyeur. As for the world he or she observes, it is a cold, uncaring place, devoid of awe, compassion or sense of purpose. Even life itself is made lifeless to better dissect its component parts. We are left with a purely material world, which is quantifiable but without quality … The scientific method is at odds with virtually everything we know about our own nature and the nature of the world. It denies the relational aspect of reality, prohibits participation and makes no room for empathic imagination. Students in effect are asked to become aliens in the world.
In Rifkin’s view, the way science is currently defined and taught is a profound violation of how today’s youngsters — and an increasing number of scientists — see the world.
But there’s nothing wrong with encouraging students’ enthusiasm about the natural world! And we like groovy pedagogy. Nonetheless, a surefire sign that the bullshit is about to come fast and furious is the phrase “an increasing number of scientists.” Onwards (italics mine):
Although he does not use these words, the way kids are taught science these days constitutes a form of child abuse. It involves the forced infliction of a false identity. There is an unfortunate precedent — Native American children who were once forced into white-run schools and forbidden to speak their native tongue or wear native clothing. They were required to become something they were not. Many Native Americans who endured this experience were psychologically scarred. They recall their experiences as a nightmare and speak of them with deep bitterness. Similarly, many young people see themselves as foreigners in the world of science, strangers in a strange land. No wonder they do not fall in love with science and seek it as a career. The separateness, distance, and aloofness required to do science is a repudiation of the relational, embedded, networked way they view their place in the world. They simply are not psychologically geared the way their forebears were for the past 200 years, a fact which many science educators have a hard time accepting.
At least the author didn’t refer to science classes as a “Trail of Tears“, because that might have been too subtle. Look, teaching science without referring to the scientific method is like teaching math without referring to proofs. Yes, we need to keep kids enthusiastic about science (Look, shiny pebble!). But after they observe something cool, many of them want to know how said cool thing got that way and how it works. The way we do that is the scientific method. Granted, this is, like, so Hitler, but if we want to teach students science, as opposed to how to collect shiny pebbles, some rigor is involved. Moving along, let’s discuss this:
They [today’s children] simply are not psychologically geared the way their forebears were for the past 200 years, a fact which many science educators have a hard time accepting.
While I’m perfectly willing to accept the notion that the Internet can make you stupid, this is idiotic. IQ tests indicate that scores have risen in absolute terms because children are more capable of dealing with abstract problems. To the extent they’re not like their forebears, they actually have an easier time understanding abstract concepts like the scientific method. Again, data makes me Hitler.
The ‘science’ and ‘wellness‘ sections are a disgrace to the good political reporting and columnists that The Huffington Post publishes. But that’s very genocidal of me.