Education Reform part 2: Compliance vs. Understanding (the political side of education reform)

One reason why those on the American right-wing oppose the Department of Education is because they feel it prioritizes academic compliance and propagandizing in tandem with education. Of course, the issues those on the right feel are being propagandized are Evolution and Climate Change. They feel that the “scientific community” is actively silencing those who challenge the norm. Interestingly, American progressive thinkers tend to have a similar view as far as history is concerned. They feel that issues like the founding of the country, women rights, slavery, civil rights, the displacement of the natives, etc. are constantly whitewashed in mainstream narrative. I personally believe that the truth is somewhere in between the two perspectives on science and history. There are efforts being made, albeit without malice or ulterior motives, to silence those who do not comply to a specific narrative.

On the issue of science, take the recent Ken Hamm vs. Bill Nye debate. Even a lot of Christian believers distance themselves from Ken Hamm, the creation museum, and  Answers in Genesis. I personally remain neutral on the topic as it has little bearing on a Christian’s lifestyle, morality and ethics. Yet he decided to challenge Bill Nye on the topic of human evolution vs. creationism. Many people are quick to challenge creationists’ credentials when they engage in debates such as this one. However, it is interesting to note that Ken Hamm and Bill Nye only hold bachelors degrees, and Mr. Hamm’s is actually with an emphasis in Environmental Biology (in contrast  to Nye’s Mechanical Engineering). Academically speaking, Mr. Hamm isn’t as far behind Mr. Nye as we were led to believe.  Yet, Bill Nye is allowed to speak on the same level as as modern scientific thinkers like Carl Sagan or Neil DeGrasse Tyson simply because he agrees with them.

In the above video, my point is made in how this woman calls those who disagree with evolution or climate change as stem illiterate. She conflates the importance of STEM understanding with STEM agreement or compliance. I’ve personally ran into this situation among my peers on the issue of climate change. I stated that we can find agreement that we as a population or a global society ought to work together in order to achieve a cleaner environment. We don’t have to agree about man-made global warming or climate change in order to work together practically. However, I was told that working towards a clean environment isn’t “enough”. If the climatologists aren’t agreed with, then they aren’t respected. It’s interesting that we have an Education system essentially pushing for an academic priesthood. Thus saith the Scientists, so shall it be. In my academic career, I’ve noticed that people can look at the same problem and draw different conclusions. These conclusions are drawn without malice or intentional bias. This is why I believe STEM education ought to be focused on practical application rather than ideological sensitivities.If practical applications are given priority than everything else will speak for itself. This isn’t to say that theoretical models should be outright abandoned, but that they shouldn’t act as occupational or academic gatekeepers.

On the issue of history, I have already mentioned that I am an African American. I’m also a bit of a conspiracy theorist/sympathizer. The idea that information may be hidden from the populace to achieve a desired narrative is actually demonstrably true. Things like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was hidden from the American public for decades. Therefore we can’t really fault those who have doubts about events like the assassinations of public figures or even recent events like 9-11. As we move further back into the historical narrative it becomes increasingly more difficult to define what the truth is on many subjects. Oftentimes a specific historical narrative can fit an ideological framework. Here we get the historical frameworks held by Christians, v. Jewish people vs. Muslims, Vs. Secular thinkers coming in conflict with each other. Christians in particular tend to have a lot of internal conflicts when discussing history. This even applies to “conservative” (sola scriptura) types who hold different views. A good example of “conservative Christian vs. conservative Christian” is seen from the video below from theologian James White on the topic of King James “Onlyism”.

I believe that history should be taught without the teacher/professor searching for a specific conclusion. Students should be free to believe and argue whatever they wish to believe as long as they are willing and able to utilize proper research methods. They should not, in an academic setting, argue for their position because the Bible says so, or because someone they trust told them one thing or another. Every position must be thoroughly examined with an equal level of scrutiny.

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