Vox Populi 2 – Education is key

October 2, 2010 § 7 Comments

Welcome to the second of what I hope will be a long series of “Vox Populi” articles on my blog, where I ask for your feedback and thoughts on a given topic. I really do depend heavily on your ideas to help formulate my own, so I decided it was time to give you, the reader, a real chance to say what you think. Hope you enjoy these short topical pieces, and please leave your feedback in the comments.

Topic 2: Education

I’ve talked about education as the key to our continued success on Earth before, and I firmly believe that to be the case. With strong education comes an ability to think critically about the present and the future, and to make decisions based on the wisdom and failures of the past.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Vetruvian Man

Leonardo Da Vinci's Vetruvian Man

However I see a trend in education coming from special interest groups, who feel that their “viewpoint” may be under threat in the education system, and they are demanding that children be taught their viewpoint, regardless of how ludicrous it may be. For example, there is a strong push in the USA in some areas of Australia for young-earth creationism and “Intelligent Design” to be taught as a science alternative to a slow universe evolution. While this holds no water as a viable alternative to the scientifically agreed ideas surrounding the origin of the earth and the universe, schools and the curriculum are under increasing pressure to accept this into the teaching curriculum amid the threats and the berating coming from these groups.

There is also a growing trend from people like the Anti-Vaxxers, who are telling us that vaccination is bad for the children, and yet we are seeing an increase in deaths related to pertussis and the like in areas where vaccination levels are low.

That said, my commitment to education is because of this understanding; with bad education comes bad decisions, and we can ill afford bad decisions in this day and age.  Major problems in our world can be avoided by better education such as population and agriculture, energy efficiency and food distribution, disease management and eradication.

We need to be stronger in our teachings. I see the viewpoint of the creationists as valid in only that it highlights that some variance in cultural upbringing and ignorance can cause people to believe the most unusual things. I’m not saying that the education we have now is by any means un-faslifyable or perfect, but that we can’t fall back on the misunderstandings of human past as a viable alternative is ludicrous.

There are those who deny all the teachings of our modern era as “conspiracy”, but don’t you think someone would notice? I mean someone with a large breadth of learning?

I’d like to hear your opinions on education. I know some of you home school your children because you fear the education system is overly influenced by the minority interests. I know some of you live in areas where vaccination is on the decrease. I know some of you live in areas where overpopulation is a problem. I know some of you have chosen alternative teaching methods such as Steiner, or have been part of it yourself growing up. I want to hear your opinions on the topic of education, the good versus the bad.

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Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

September 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

This is great. I feel that one of the greatest ways for us to go further as a species, and to save this planet from a multitude of possible dystopian futures is through education. To see that children are able to do this research on their own is very refreshing. Education is key, because through ignorance the only decisions we can make are ill-informed and ignorant ones.

In this TED talk, Sugata Mitra is very funny and seems to really enjoy the work he does with children, and seems honestly surprised by the children all the time.

The Bible Is Not A Historical Textbook

August 1, 2010 § 20 Comments

I’m scared for the future of Australia, and I’ll tell you why.

Recently I have been reading reports of education in Queensland that sugest that people who believe the logical fallacies of the Bible have been teaching biblical writings as historical fact. I don’t need to break the bible down piece by piece to show you why it is illogical or why the stories in it are ludicrous, but I do want to point you at this article which states that “Primary school students are being taught that man and dinosaurs walked the Earth together and that there is fossil evidence to prove it.” At first I thought it was a joke, and checked my calendar to ensure it wasn’t April 1st and not August 1st.

I admit, I have no problem with teaching Religious Studies in schools. In fact I think we should present all sides of the religious picture, tell the children that every religions claims to be the “one true religion”, point out all the similarities and differences between the theistic writings, and let the kids work it out for themselves that religion is nonsensical. This knowledge would also be excellent in that it would teach the children about the history of humanity, and about this seemingly natural propensity that all humans have to want to believe in something outside the physical world. And I think all religions should be taught, not just the popular ones. How different would our opinions of religious texts be if we were to teach them as simply works of litereature, and not divine words from above?

I agree with Sam Harris when he says “I view religions as essentially failed sciences.” We naturally want to try and explain everything that happens to us and around us, and when we didn’t know the answer we would try and fill this viod with something. If you fill this void with God, then you don’t need to wonder about the causes of things, and you can move on to more¬† important things in your life, and leave godly matters God to worry about. If we had stayed as ignorant about our world as we were when religions were formed we would neve have progressed to the point we have now. We would have never questioned why the sun rose, or why water turns to ice, or what causes volcanoes. We would have simply just been happy with the unfounded knowledge that God did it. Whereas once we would ascribe natural disasters to an angry deity, we now know the causes of these disasters, and yet we still hold on to God.

Fundamentalism seems to be on the rise in Australia, which is very alarming. Earlier this year there was a report saying that Creationism was going to be included in the National Curriculum in Queensland schools. Now we hear that some teachers have been making things up to support the information of the Bible. It is a worrying trend, and I really think that if this kind of teaching is allowed, not only are we going to raise our children as ignorant and unquestioning, but that we as a nation will eventually be dumbed-down because of it.

This is not the time to be teaching our children badly. From a bad education comes bad decisions. We have already proven as a species that our uninformed decisions can be the cause of some of the most disastrous situtions and consequences. Let’s move forward with what we have learned, and not fall back on the mysticism and magic from our historical ignorance.

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