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Re: [Phys-l] Physics First Revisited

Friends, this is not just an intramural battle among academic subjects, all of which have merit in a high school curiculum. It is rather a battle for the hearts and minds of the citizenry against a rampant attitude of anti-intellectualism and anti-academia in this country. We have written about this many times before so this post will come as little surprise to all of you and is probably an exercise in futility. But, here goes anyway.

Notice the anecdote about the student who wants to be a science teacher only because he wants to be a coach. Who makes the most money in schools...certainly not the lowly assistant chemistry professor or professor of English literature; no, it's the football coach who often makes more money than the president of the university. Who are the students receiving notice in the papers? These would be the football and basketball players who will go on to the Pac Ten, or Big Ten, or Big East based on skills not in the classroom (although when that is evident the paper prints a separate article extolling that fact as if it is an anomaly) but on the field. One only has to read the sports section to see dozens of examples of standout athletes who are choosing their colleges based on the coaches and rating of the team they are going to play for. These *student-athletes* get a full ride to just about anywhere they want while thousands of worthy future scientists and mathematicians must struggle under the weight of massive student loans.
Listen to conversation in the gym or on the train about the egg-heads and pointy-headed scientists who have discovered this and that in science. Listen to these people laugh and say how bad they were in math and, in reality, are proud of that fact. Listen to parents complaining about having their kids take hard science classes and their explanation goes something like this, "What good does it do my Johnny to know (name the concept in chemistry or physics) in real life?" These are the same parents who yell and scream at Johnny on the soccer field to "Kill that guy!" These are the same parents who get into fights with other parents over a children's game. These are the same parents who will complain and vote down the new chemistry lab for the high school but will spend thousands of dollars on season tickets to the Eagles or Cowboys. Check out the school board meetings where heated arguments arise over whether to build a new school or fix the heater system in the old one, but will then go out to raise a million dollars to build a new football stadium. Read about the parent who assaulted the principal over the fact that Susie got kicked off the girls' cheerleading squad, but never mind that she is receiving D's in algebra. Who among the general public knows or even cares a hoot about sewage pollution in their home town or will attend a town meeting about same, but will ride a hundred miles to see and hear the current country band? Who in this group does not know someone who sits before the computer screen for hours playing *Grand Theft Auto* but then will complain that, "you gave too much homework last night." How many of us can name two or three Nobel Prize winners while rattling off the entire Yankee starting team (or Sox, or Phillies... any example will suffice). Why is Wheel of Fortune called *America's Game*? Why not Jeopardy which is ten times more challenging and stimulating?

No, folks, this is not a country that holds academia in high regard. We are tilting against the windmill of mediocrity. To end this diatribe on a political note, sorry folks,....... How many ordinary people smiled and recognized themselves when Sarah Palin complained about the use of money for genetic research?

No, friends, our thread about emphasizing science vs English or math is simply a battle among midgets (and erstwhile allies) while the giants of anti-academia that rule America today sit back and rake in the money, ratings, and attention of the masses and most of the local government funding.


On Jan 29, 2009, at 9:38 AM, Edmiston, Mike wrote:

R. McDermott said his daughter is not finding it easy to become employed
as a K-6 science teacher. Current administrators and teachers at those
levels seem to be stuck on strong math and English but not science.

Exactly. That's what I'm talking about. Our physical science battle is
not at the ninth-grade level. The battle is already lost by then. This
is going to be a difficult thing to change. The math and English
programs already have all the momentum, and they will fight any
intrusion of science if time spent on science comes at the expense of
time spent on math and English.