Critically Thinking About Our Education System - Part 3
Some additional serious K-12 science education deficiencies
FRAMEWORK —> STANDARDS —> CURRICULUM
(in layman terms:) Messages —> Methodology —> Mechanics
A careful analysis of the Framework exposes ate least six (6) serious concerns with it (which are also continued in the NGSS). In Part 2 I demonstrated that the NAS/NRC Framework and the NGSS not only do not teach Critical Thinking, they promote the opposite: conformity to what is politically favored… Five (5) other liabilities are:
PROBLEM #2: Without acknowledgement or sufficient explanation the Framework and NGSS endorse abstract/ lateral/ system thinking, and denigrate linear thinking. You’ve never heard about this issue? Inserting things in the dark of night, is standard fare for our progressive associates. For worthwhile discussions about the differences between these types of thinking, see here, here, and here.
What these analyses conclude is that different types of thinking may be beneficial in different circumstances. For example, more abstract thinking might be helpful for artists. Interestingly, an example given for when linear thinking would likely be more beneficial, is for scientists. However, the Framework/NGSS authors have chosen to downgrade linear thinking in Science education! Go figure.
This is a good situation to test how committed the Framework/NGSS authors are to Critical Thinking. If they were, there would be a thorough and objective discussion of these different types of thinking (as in the three citations above). Students would then be able to assess for themselves as to when each type of thinking would be optimum. Unfortunately, none of this is in the Framework/NGSS, indicating that their claimed commitment to Critical Thinking is deceptive.
PROBLEM #3: Elimination of the Scientific Method!!! That’s right, in their wisdom, the Framework/NGSS authors have discarded some 4000 years of tradition in one fell swoop! Their one line justification for this profoundly significant action is that the Scientific Method “promotes linear thinking” — which their opinion as a no-no. (Reread Problem #2, above, to get the importance of their position on linear thinking.)
The real reason they are trying to discard the Scientific Method is that it does not support some of their agenda items. Technical matters like climate change, industrial wind energy, COVID early treatment policies, etc. do not hold up well when the Scientific Method is applied. The solution? Get rid of the Scientific Method!
BTW, this is another good case to assess whether the Framework authors have a genuine commitment to Critical Thinking, or are they just blowing smoke? If they were actually believers in Critical Thinking they would have: 1) explained what the Scientific Method is, 2) detailed its long history, 3) objectively elaborated on its benefits and shortcomings, 4) proposed an alternative, 5) assigned students the responsibility to research and Critically Think about this matter, 6) had classroom debates about what students thought was the best option. Etc.
Regretfully, none of that is in the Framework/NGSS. Instead — without explanation or discussion — the authors simply scrapped the Scientific Method. This type of dictatorial treatment of important scientific topics is throughout the Framework/ NGSS. Conclusion: the Framework/NGSS authors’ commitment to Critical Thinking is simply a ruse to fool the trusting or those not paying sufficient attention.
Please read my one page digest about what the Scientific Method is. With this “linear thinking” burden, it’s amazing that Newton, Curie & Einstein accomplished anything!
PROBLEM #4: The Framework/NGSS authors knew full well that they couldn’t just dump the Scientific Method without some type of replacement, as that would have left a gaping hole. Since no one else had come with a better alternative for the Scientific Method in some 4000 years, they had their work cut out for them!
Their desperate response was to concoct a new method: Science and Engineering Practices. To try to pound this square peg into a round hole, they have effectively lumped scientists and engineers together. However, goals, processes, etc. are not the same for these two very worthy fields. For example, Science uses a bottoms-up approach, while Engineering is top-down. Two insightful explanations of the major differences between Science and Engineering are here and here.
To be fair, the Framework does have 2± pages stating that Science and Engineering differ (P46+). However, they go off the rails when they inaccurately say that the differences between these professions are minor. (That convenient hypothesis allows them to then create a common methodology.) Not surprisingly, again no student Critical Thinking about this issue is asked for or desired.
Let’e be perfectly clear, as some parties would welcome the opportunity to misrepresent what is being said here. Including Engineering into the Framework is a commendable idea. However, fabricating a methodology that supposedly both scientists and engineers follow, is mythical and non-sensical.
PROBLEM #5 - A key subtlety in this inadequate methodology “substitute” is that the Framework/NGSS authors make an unwarranted endorsement of computer models (simulations), as a superior alternative to Critical Thinking by humans. (Reliance on computer models is not in the Scientific Method, but is in the proposed alternative.) See this excellent commentary that exposes the fallacy of their thinking.
Further, I’ve written some hundred thousand lines of code, so I have a very clear inside understanding of the numerous weaknesses of computer models. E.g., claiming that computer models can give us an accurate climate assessment for fifty years from now, is an absurdity. There are literally dozens of variables that we have only limited knowledge about, and we know even less about how they interrelate to each other. Here is a short slideshow that I put together explaining some of this.
Once again, is there anything remotely like Critical Thinking about the pros and cons of computer modeling in the Framework/NGSS? NO. Big surprise!
PROBLEM #6 - Science is a process, and (by definition) real Science is apolitical and agnostic. However the Framework not only does not make that clarification, it unabashedly endorses political and theological ideologies — like social justice. Politics and theology are NOT the realm of Science!
The Framework has a twenty page chapter (#11) called: Equity and Diversity in Science and Engineering Education. It’s also telling that the authors deemed it important to have a lengthy definition of Equity (P278) — yet no definition exists in the Framework for genuinely relevant matters like Science or Critical Thinking!
The Framework’s Equity Chapter makes several challenging statements like: “All science learning can be understood as a cultural accomplishment” and “Science has been described as being ‘heavily dependent on cultural contexts, power relationships, value systems, ideological dogma, and human emotional needs,’” and “…seeing science as ‘a culturally mediated way of thinking and knowing suggests that learning can be defined as engagement with scientific practices’”…
This type of progressive thinking is now imbedded in DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), CRT (Critical Race Theory) and Woke. Note that little of DEI, CRT and Woke was in vogue back at the time the Framework was written (2012). However, the Framework’s influence (in thousands of school districts) may very well be a major contributing factor to the subsequent popularity of DEI, CRT and Woke, especially among impressionable young adults.
There is nothing the matter with the objective that all children are given an equal opportunity to learn. Unfortunately this often morphs into an agenda that all children must end up with equal results. Since equal results are impossible to naturally occur, in any system, some parties feel that they need to step in to try to force that to happen. Briefly, that is the huge difference between equality and equity. (See this education discussion, a current events example, and a lengthy legal explanation from MIT.)
A corrosive education system attempt to promote equity, was (and is) grade inflation (see here and here). When that didn’t produce sufficiently equal results, widespread cheating soon followed (by students, as well as by teachers). That type of entitlement thinking leads to many major problematic school and societal outcomes — like the idea that political correctness takes priority over merit.
The consequences of this “equal results” mentality is that many graduates of our academic system are trained to be entitlement-minded adult citizens, whose moral standards are based on alarming value systems like “the end justifies the means.” These are some of the most debilitating ailments that any democratic society can be inflicted with — and are directly in conflict with the founding principles of America.
Problem #6 is a complicated matter that can’t be done justice in a few paragraphs. Considering the profoundly significant societal consequences involved, Part 4 (the final analysis of this education commentary) will elaborate a bit more on them…
I’ve been asked: do I expect that the Framework or the NGSS will have these six errors corrected? No, as these problems were not mistakes, but are there on purpose.
My hope is that state boards of education become keenly aware of these liabilities. Any of the 45 states that have adopted these in whole or in part, should make sure that their state K-12 Science Standards do NOT reflect these Framework or NGSS liabilities.
Here are other materials by this scientist that you might find interesting:
WiseEnergy.org: discusses the Science (or lack thereof) behind our energy options.
C19Science.info: covers the lack of genuine Science behind our COVID-19 policies.
Election-Integrity.info: multiple major reports on the election integrity issue.
Media Balance Newsletter: a free, twice-a-month newsletter that covers what the mainstream media does not, on issues from: COVID to climate, elections to education, renewables to religion, etc. Here are the Newsletter’s 2022 Archives. Send me an email to get your free copy. When emailing me, please make sure to include your full name, and the state where you live. (Of course, you can cancel the Media Balance Newsletter at any time - but why would you?)
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