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What our children is learning ?
ifihadahif Posted: Wed May 4 10:09:37 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  A Textbook Case of Junk Science
What our children is learning?
by Pamela R. Winnick
05/09/2005

SEVERAL CENTURIES AGO, some "very light-skinned" people were shipwrecked on a tropical island. After "many years under the tropical sun," this light-skinned population became "dark-skinned," says Biology: The Study of Life, a high-school textbook published in 1998 by Prentice Hall, an imprint of Pearson Education.

"Downright bizarre," says Nina Jablonski, who holds the Irvine chair of anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. Jablonski, an expert in the evolution of skin color, says it takes at least 15,000 years for skin color to evolve from black to white or vice versa. That sure is "many years." The suggestion that skin color can change in a few generations has no basis in science.

Pearson Education spokesperson Wendy Spiegel admits the error in describing the evolution of skin color, but says the teacher's manual explains the phenomenon correctly. Just why teachers are given accurate information while students are misled remains unclear.

But then there's lots that's puzzling about the science textbooks used in American classrooms. A sloppy way with facts, a preference for the politically correct over the scientifically sound, and sheer faddism characterize their content. It's as if their authors had decided above all not to expose students to the intellectual rigor that is the lifeblood of science.

Thus, a chapter on climate in a fifth-grade science textbook in the Discovery Works series, published by Houghton Mifflin (2000), opens with a Native American explanation for the changing seasons: "Crow moon is the name given to spring because that is when the crows return. April is the
month of Sprouting Grass Moon." Students meander through three pages of Algonquin lore before they learn that climate is affected by the rotation and tilt of Earth--not by the return of the crows.

Houghton Mifflin spokesman Collin Earnst says such tales are included in order to "connect science to culture." He might more precisely have said to connect science to certain preferred, non-Western, or primitive cultures. Were a connection drawn to, say, a Bible story, the outcry would be heard around the world.

Affirmative action for women and minorities is similarly pervasive in science textbooks, to absurd effect. Al Roker, the affable black NBC weatherman, is hailed as a great scientist in one book in the Discovery Works series. It is common to find Marie Curie given a picture and half a page of text, but her husband, Pierre, who shared a Nobel Prize with her, relegated to the role of supportive spouse. In the same series, Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, is shown next to black scientist Lewis Latimer, who improved the light bulb by adding a carbon filament. Edison's picture is smaller.

Jews have been awarded 22 percent of all Nobel Prizes in science, but readers of Houghton Mifflin's fifth-grade textbooks won't get wind of that. Navajo physicist Fred Begay, however, merits half a page for his study of Navajo medicine. Albert Einstein isn't mentioned. Biologist Clifton Poodry has made no noteworthy scientific discoveries, but he was born on the Tonawanda Seneca Indian reservation, so his picture is shown in Glenco/McGraw-Hill's Life Science (2002), a middle-school biology textbook. The head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, and Nobel Laureates James Watson, Maurice H.F. Wilkins, and Francis Crick aren't named.
Addison-Wesley, another imprint of Pearson Education, is so keen on political correctness that it lists a multicultural review board of nonscientists in its Science Insights: Exploring Matter and Energy, published in 1994 but still in use. Houghton Mifflin says it overemphasizes minorities and women to "encourage" students from these groups. A spokesman for Pearson Education blames the states for demanding multiculturalism.

If it's the states that impose multiculturalism, however, they're only doing the bidding of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1995, the academy published the National Science Education Standards, which, according to academy president Bruce Alberts, "represent the best thinking . . . about what is best for our nation's students." The standards (which explicitly place religion on a par with "myth and superstition") counsel school boards to modify "assessments" for students with "limited English proficiency" by, for example, raising their scores. They tell teachers to be "sensitive" to students who are "economically deprived, female, have disabilities, or [come] from populations underrepresented in the sciences." Teachers should especially encourage "women and girls, students of color and students with disabilities."

This "best thinking" of the nation's scientific elite is being used by nearly all the 50 states as they centralize their science standards. With 22 states now requiring statewide adoption of textbooks, big-state textbook markets are the prizes for which publishers compete.

A study commissioned by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in 2001 found 500 pages of scientific error in 12 middle-school textbooks used by 85 percent of the students in the country. One
misstates Newton's first law of motion. Another says humans can't hear elephants. Another confuses "gravity" with "gravitational acceleration." Another shows the equator running through the United States. Individual scientists draft segments of these books, but reviewing the final product is sometimes left to multicultural committees who have no expertise in science.

"Thousands of teachers are saddled with error-filled physical science textbooks," wrote John Hubisz, a physics professor at North Carolina State University at Raleigh and the author of the report. "Political correctness is often more important than scientific accuracy. Middle-school text publishers now employ more people to censor books than they do to check facts."

The aim of President Bill Clinton's Goals 2000 project, enacted nine years ago, was to make American students first in science literacy. It didn't happen. A study by the National Assessment governing board in 2000 found that only 12 percent of graduating seniors were proficient in science. International surveys continue to show that American high school seniors rank 19th among seniors surveyed in 21 countries.

Members of the scientific elite are occasionally heard blaming religion for the sorry state of science education. But it isn't priests, rabbis, or mullahs who write the textbooks that misrepresent evolution, condescend to disadvantaged groups, misstate key concepts of physics, show the equator running through the United States, and come close to excising white males from the history of science. Young Americans need to learn science, and they need to distinguish it clearly from Algonquin myth.



 
Posted: Wed May 4 10:34:51 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  before I even read the article: what's with the date on it? isn't that next week?


 
ifihadahif Posted: Wed May 4 10:43:36 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  CriminalSaint said:
>before I even read the article: what's with the date on it? isn't that next week?
>
Actually it is next week, did I neglect to tell you about my time machine ?

Actually I don't know what's up with that date, I think it might have something to do with the issue date of the newsmagazine it was linked to.


 
Mesh Posted: Wed May 4 13:59:39 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Without reading the article.....lol @ prez bUsH olol am i rite guyz?


 
breeze Posted: Wed May 4 16:56:51 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Yeah, I heard about this problem with American high schools. I'm happy i got to get my high school education elsewhere, but your higher education is pretty darn good. Which is kinda surprising that things are so not being taken care of in H.S. unless you're studying is some private school i guess.




 
Mesh Posted: Wed May 4 17:04:21 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I have nothing to go on concerning the United States public schools except for what I hear and read. And I hear and read mostly bad things.

Of course thats true for most things, hearing a lot of the bad with only tid-bits of the good sprinkled in here and there. So, in conclusion......my opinion doesnt matter. I dont really know what to think of it.


 
Ahriman Posted: Wed May 4 17:50:08 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  eh, I'm in New York and have yet to have any problems with the my education. Everything is very much accurate and to the point. New York woooooo!


 
Silentmind Posted: Wed May 4 19:51:48 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  The funny thing is, I'm a Canadian IB student and none of my books have pictures in them. Or they're maps. Or pictures of scientific apparatuses. I'm not even going to touch this article. My blood pressure {I'm sure incorrectly described somewhere} will increase significantly.


 
Silentmind Posted: Wed May 4 19:53:51 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Silentmind said:
>The funny thing is, I'm a Canadian IB student and none of my books have pictures in them.


I should say, pictures of these people that I study. Who are we kidding, Einstein was ugly. Who would want to look at him.


 
Ed Posted: Wed May 4 20:08:25 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Speaking of Einstein, in one of my classrooms, there's a mug-shot poster of him over a window. When the lights are off, all you can see is his creepy glowing face.


 
beetlebum Posted: Wed May 4 21:52:39 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Ed said:
>Speaking of Einstein, in one of my classrooms, there's a mug-shot poster of him over a window. When the lights are off, all you can see is his creepy glowing face.

I'm probably only saying this because I just got off work and it is almost 3 a.m. (for the love!) but do you ever stare at that Einstein poster? Be careful with that. Pi to the fiftieth digit was posted above the blackboard in my algebra II/trig class when I was like, maybe 14, and I can still recite it to the fortieth, and this isn't something I particularly desired. It just happened.

Sadly, this may be what happens to you, except you'll have a photo of a creepy glowing Einstein eternally printed on your brain, which is kinda weird. Don't look at it too much.

Uuuummmm, yeah.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Wed May 4 21:52:59 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Silentmind said:
>Silentmind said:
>>The funny thing is, I'm a Canadian IB student and none of my books have pictures in them.
>
>
>I should say, pictures of these people that I study. Who are we kidding, Einstein was ugly. Who would want to look at him.
>
Umm, The article says there is no mention of Einstein in the 5th grade book, nothing about a picture.


 
misszero Posted: Wed May 4 21:55:43 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Silentmind said:
> none of my books have pictures in them.

tee hee hee. i found that so amusing. i can just see it... "man.... these books don't have pictures! what're we gonna do now?"
i'm not being insulting or anything. it just really tickled my funny bone. i don't know why.


 
Mesh Posted: Wed May 4 22:10:53 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  misszero said:
>Silentmind said:
>> none of my books have pictures in them.
>
>tee hee hee. i found that so amusing. i can just see it... "man.... these books don't have pictures! what're we gonna do now?"
>i'm not being insulting or anything. it just really tickled my funny bone. i don't know why.

Sometimes I get into a mood where, if I pick up something, be it a book, pamphlet, whatever, and theres no pictures, and I just slam it down proclaiming "Well what the hell am I going to do with no pictures? This thing is useless to me now."


 
beetlebum Posted: Wed May 4 22:43:45 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  meshuggah said:
>misszero said:
>>Silentmind said:
>>> none of my books have pictures in them.
>>
>>tee hee hee. i found that so amusing. i can just see it... "man.... these books don't have pictures! what're we gonna do now?"
>>i'm not being insulting or anything. it just really tickled my funny bone. i don't know why.
>
>Sometimes I get into a mood where, if I pick up something, be it a book, pamphlet, whatever, and theres no pictures, and I just slam it down proclaiming "Well what the hell am I going to do with no pictures? This thing is useless to me now."

Yeah. I know. Sometimes I do the same thing. If I pick up something, be it a book, pamphlet, whatever, and it isn't beer, I just slam it down proclaiming "Well what the hell am I going to do with no beer? This thing is useless to me now."




 
Asswipe Posted: Thu May 5 02:35:08 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  beetlebum said:
>Ed said:
>>Speaking of Einstein, in one of my classrooms, there's a mug-shot poster of him over a window. When the lights are off, all you can see is his creepy glowing face.
>
>I'm probably only saying this because I just got off work and it is almost 3 a.m. (for the love!) but do you ever stare at that Einstein poster? Be careful with that. Pi to the fiftieth digit was posted above the blackboard in my algebra II/trig class when I was like, maybe 14, and I can still recite it to the fortieth, and this isn't something I particularly desired. It just happened.

you didn't HAVE to memorize it or anything, it just worked out that way from sitting in the class all semester?

boring class, eh?


 
addi Posted: Thu May 5 07:24:05 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  A large part of my job is reading these publishers textbooks dealing with social studies (no science).
I can tell you that there are some historical innacuracies in some of them, and yes, some levels of importance given to certain historical figures may be out of whack, but by and large if a student internalizes even half of the factual content in these text books they will have learned a lot of valuable information.
Citing examples of things that need to be corrected with some of them should be taken seriously, but it's small potatos in the big picture of things that need improving in our public school systems. It's like freaking out that there's a mosquito on your arm while ignoring the shark that's chewing on your leg.
Blame for our inadequacies and failures here in teaching our kids can be spread to our culture, parents, government, inept administrations, the kids themselves, low salaries, and some teachers that have no business being in the classroom.
Trust me, if every one of the examples cited in this article were corrected it wouldn't do dittley squat to solve the problems our public schools face.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu May 5 08:08:23 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addi said:
>Trust me, if every one of the examples cited in this article were corrected it wouldn't do dittley squat to solve the problems our public schools face.
>
This is true, but these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
I think these examples are symptoms of the much bigger problem of political correctness rum amok.


 
addi Posted: Thu May 5 08:53:28 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:

>This is true, but these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

No they're not. These examples are nothing more than the tip of the iceberg. I read so many of these books on U.S. History, World History, Economics, Geography, Civics and Government, Global Culture...They're nothing more than a fly in the soup. 99% of the content information in most of these books is relatively accurate and beneficial for a student to learn.
I say let's correct the obvious mistakes and shoot to make them 100% accurate, but it's silly to blow any long term damage they may do to a students mind out of proportion.
And perspective and point of view come into play here as well. Knowing where the equator lies is easy to fix; it's black and white. Determining the level of importance to give Marie Curie in relation to her husband is much more subjective in nature.
Historical truth is always changing. Compared to the content i got in my history lessons growing up (all our founding fathers were saints), the history books today are much more accurate in pointing out their virtues and vices.


>I think these examples are symptoms of the much bigger problem of political correctness rum amok.

I agree with you here. I long for the good old days when I could call republicans "dumb shmucks" and not be repromanded for being politically insensitive : )


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu May 5 10:17:51 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addi said:
>ifihadahif said:
>
>>This is true, but these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
>
>No they're not. These examples are nothing more than the tip of the iceberg.
>
Isn't that what I just said ?


 
addi Posted: Thu May 5 10:41:55 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:

>Isn't that what I just said ?

lol
no
when you say something is just the tip of the iceberg you're implying that the real problem is actually huge, like the larger hidden mass beneath the water of an iceberg.

I was implying that all it is is the tip of an iceberg, and nothing more.

: )


 



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