Re: Kansas and the future
Fri, 13 Aug 1999 20:40:52 EDT

In a message dated 8/13/99 3:45:05 PM Mountain Standard Time, writes:

But surely you are not suggesting we should only teach what we can see and
test today? I live in an EXTREMELY conservative community which hosts many
parents who want entire history books thrown out. Why? Because we don't
really know if our historical analysis of the Mayas or the Egyptians is
true. We have merely taken bits and pieces of evidence, put them together
in a logical fashion, and devised a logical interpretation of what those
cultures must have been like. The history of life on earth is not
different. Evolution involves the accumulation of bits and pieces of
evidence which have been put together in a logical fashion to devise a
logical explanation for the history of life on earth.

Essentially, these ultra conservatives want the fields of archeology,
paleontology, geology, and anthropology thrown out. They see them as having
little value at all. They want their children taught ONLY what we can prove
at this very moment in time.

I shudder to think of what our schools would be like absent any historical
perspective on where we've been. In addition, I shudder to think what our
students will be like intellectually if their answer to every question is
simply, "God did it." Ask a creationist student to explain the theological
significance of DNA sequencing which definitely shows man's relatedness to
chimps and the answer is "I don't need to understand God's ways." Shall we
create a nation of non-thinkers?



This all suggests a possible patron saint for Kansas: Thomas Gradgrind (from
Charles Dickens' "Hard Times").
"Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts.
Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything
else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing
else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I
bring up these children. Stick to Facts, Sir!"
Thomas Gradgrind, Sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and
calculations...With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table
always in his pocket, Sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human
nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to.
"You are to be in all things regulated and fact. We hope to
have, before long, a board of fact, composed by commissioners of fact, who
will force the people to be a people of fact, and of nothing but fact. You
must discard the word Fancy [we could say,Theory] altogether. You have
nothing to do with it."

But perhaps the problem (if it is such; after all THE PEOPLE have spoken --
or at least 6 of them), will solve itself. Kansas school children will grow
up without a consistent theme to unify biology, they will quickly lose
interest or be unable to define research questions, Lysenko-like decisions
will be made, the agricultural and livestock industries will collapse, and
all of Kansas will starve to death!
You see, it's all very Darwinian!!! ;-)

Karl V. Evans