Climate Denial Instruction In Schools

Corporate interests are pushing a model bill in many states that would require schools to teach climate change denial.  It sounds creepily reminiscent of the creationism/evolution mess from a few years ago.  Except with the fossil fuel industry instead of the religious right behind it.  Gah.

Open Climate Science Course

The University of Chicago has created an Open Courseware style Climate Science 101, with videos of the lectures and self-assessment materials online.  It’s aimed at non-science undergraduates.  If you, or someone you know, want to get a little  more in depth knowledge about climate science on their own time, it’s a great resource.

A Transnational School in NYC?

Chris Whittle is starting transnational school in NYC. A majority of the students will have at least one foreign born parent. All students will be taught half the time in English, and half the time in either Mandarin or Spanish. Actually, he’s starting the schools in 20 major cities around the world, all on the same curriculum and teaching model, hoping to hold on to the kids when their parents are shuttled all over the world for careers and ambition.  It reminds me of the neo-Victorian phyle in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age.  What kind of new old boys (and girls) clubs will this kind of childhood education create?  How will this kind of school compete with the high quality gray market educations now on offer?

Education will not be fixed, it will evolve

It seems like there have been calls to “fix” our education system in the US for decades.  The Apollo program’s Saturn V engines were largely built by young engineers and scientists.  Their educations were influenced by the Sputnik-inspired National Defense Education Act of 1958, which despite its codified McCarthyism was probably a good thing.  Those kids of my parents’ generation were probably also directly inspired by Sputnik, and the Amazing Stories of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov.  Even my Seventh Day Adventist dad wanted to study physics in college, until he encountered the associated math.

Sputnik 1

If it takes a Sputnik moment to “fix” education, we may be out of luck this time around.

This burst of attention to (and funding for) science and mathematics education was, like the entire Apollo program, the product of a nationalist fear that we were “falling behind” the Soviets.  Despite Thomas Friedman’s ongoing attempts to frame China’s production and adoption of clean energy technologies and as a modern Sputnik Moment, I doubt it’s in the cards.  Not without some pretty dramatic focusing moment, and not without exiling the fossil fuel industries from US politics.  It’s also just not the same kind of story as your newly atomic ideological arch nemesis lobbing rocks over your territorial boundaries, well out of reach.  We will not be terrified by China’s solar panels, nor even, it seems, by their monopoly on the production of rare earths.

Continue reading Education will not be fixed, it will evolve

Links for the week of February 21st, 2010

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Continue reading Links for the week of February 21st, 2010