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  • A Real Education

    Chapter 6: Science Class

    By Punkerslut

    Start Date: January 10, 2002
    Finish Date: January 28, 2002

    Science Class

         In science class, students will learn the fundamental principles of the origin and mechanics of the natural Universe. Of the distant cosmos and of the vibrant, native life of Earth, there will be many topics abound in the science classroom that will intrigue and interest the students. Science is a fundamentally important classroom, and by far the most progressive subject that there can be. Every citizen should be informed about science yet in our nation, citizens remain incredibly ignorant of science and its progression. No society can thrive when its general population cannot comprehend the basic elements that govern our world. It is true that every student should be given the full independence of choosing the classes in which they wish to partake, however, personally I highly recommend science as being an imperative and vastly important subject. To quote Carl Sagan...

    It's perilous and foolhardy for the average citizen to remain ignorant about global warming, say, or ozone depletion, air pollution, toxic and radioactive wastes, acid rain, topsoil erosion, tropical deforestation, exponential population growth. Jobs and wages depend on science and technology. [*1]

         Science is perhaps the most wondrous of all subjects. To understand the principles which govern the flow of life, of the spawning of new generations, of the change of species and the evolution of cells, is perhaps the most inspirational knowledge acquirable by the mind. To know that we are see the light of stars that have already lived and died at the night sky, to know that animal mothers have an instinctive affectionate bond with their children, to know that light is connected to magnetism and electricity, to know these things is the most illuminating and thought-provoking information. When we understand the nature of animals, of stars, of planets, of eco-systems, of germs and cells, of chemical reactions, of life, and of everything which comprises our Universe, we are filled with a fire for education and a distinguished zest for learning. Today, however, science has been downplayed. In our class rooms, they teach theories, not evidences. Students become bent on understanding the theories of science - the conclusions rather than the methodology. They do not develop critical, analytical, or progressive minds. Their minds are chained forever to something they cannot comprehend nor do they wish to. As years wear on the information is dropped, forcefully fed to them and carelessly forgotten. To quote Carl Sagan...

    If we teach only the findings and products of science--no matter how useful and even inspiring they may be--without communicating its critical method, how can the average person possibly distinguish science from pseudoscience? Both are presented as unsupported assertion.


    The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science. [*2]

         In science class, it is absolutely necessary that students are informed of the scientific method. Exercises in such methods would be benefiting, as well. Students must be allowed to explore and study science, to observe and record their observations. It is the freedom and liberty of investigation which makes it so rewarding. If students are not given that freedom and liberty, then for what end is their investigation other than to appease the unavailing guidelines of formal "education"? The significance of science in our society has not yet been realized. If, however, individuals in our society do not soon grasp hold of science quickly, then trouble may be in store for their future. To quote Carl Sagan...

    Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grand children's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and when no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. [*3]

         The question of dissection and vivisection have often come into play concerning science class. In the science classroom, should students be promoted to the killing, the merciless torture of their fellow creatures, for the sake of being able to observe pain? If any educator who believed in freedom of learning proposed this, then the students of that science class would only learn the cruelties forced onto other animals. Compassion and affection would not be the sentiments embedded in the minds of these young children. They would be forced to torture, their every movement not for the sake of learning but for the sake of causing pain. As Giordano Bruno said, for that foot, for that shoe, for that smile, for that window-widow, a science class today that centralized on vivisection would be composed of, for that scream, for that agony, for that pain, for that torture. Schools are supposed to be modern centers of education, equipping students with the tools to choose to be creative, productive, and merciful. Can anyone honestly be pictured as creative, productive, and merciful when they induce pains of endless extent to defenseless creatures? As Henry Stephens Salt has said...

    GREAT is the change when we turn from the easy thoughtless indifferentism of the sportsman or the milliner to the more determined and deliberately chosen attitude of the scientist-so great, indeed, that by many people, even among professed champions of animals' rights, it is held impossible to trace such dissimilar lines of action to one and the same source. Yet it can be shown, I think, that in this instance, as in those already examined, the prime cause of man's injustice is to the lower animals is the belief that they are mere automata, devoid alike of spirit, character, and individuality; only, while the ignorant sportsman expresses this contempt through the medium of the battle, and the milliner through that of the bonnet, the more seriously-minded physiologist works his work in the "experimental torture" of the laboratory. The difference lies in the temperament of the men, and in the tone of their profession; but in their denial of the most elementary rights of the lower races, they are all inspired and instigated by one common prejudice. [*4]

         The importance of a science class is to teach students the value of critical thought, to give them the tools to decipher real science from pseudoscience. To quote Francisco Ferrer...

    Rational education is lifted above these illiberal forms. It has, in the first place, no regard to religious education, because science has shown that the story of creation is a myth and the gods legendary; and therefore religious education takes advantage of the credulity of the parents and the ignorance of the children, maintaining the belief in a supernatural being to whom people may address all kinds of prayers. This ancient belief, still unfortunately widespread, has done a great deal of harm, and will continue to do so as long as it persists. The mission of education is to show the child, by purely scientific methods, that the more knowledge we have of natural products, their qualities, and the way to use them, the more industrial, scientific, and artistic commodities we shall have for the support and comfort of life, and men and women will issue in larger numbers from our schools with a determination to cultivate every branch of knowledge and action, under the guidance of reason and the inspiration of science and art, which will adorn life and reform society. [*5]


    *1. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan, page 7, published by Ballantine Books.
    *2. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan, pages 21-22, published by Ballantine Books.
    *3. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan, page 26, published by Ballantine Books.
    *4. Animals' Rights, by Henry Stephens Salt and Albert Leffingwell, part I, chapter 7, 1891.
    *5. Francisco Ferrer, Origin and Ideals of the Modern School, chapter 11, published 1913.

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