Monday, November 29, 2004

I never understood set theory, anyways

You really do have to read his entire post, but the General has come across a publisher of textbooks promoting Christian Conservative education. A snippet from their website:

"Unlike the 'modern math' theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, we believe that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute. All of the laws of mathematics are God's laws. Our knowledge of God's absolute mathematical laws may be incomplete or at times in error, but that merely shows human frailty, not relativity in mathematics. Man's task is to search out and make use of the laws of the universe, both scientific and mathematical. A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory... Besides training students in the basic skills that they will need all their lives, the A Beka Book traditional mathematics books teach students to believe in the absolutes of the universe, to work diligently to get right answers, and to see the facts of mathematics as part of the truth and order that God has built into the real universe."

Welcome to education in American today. This is the illogical extreme, of course, but creationism is hotter than the hula hoop with various Boards of Education across the country these days, and it won't stop there.

You can argue about fully funding No Child Left Behind until you turn blue, but as long as "education" is defined as getting kids to memorize a set body of information for national testing purposes, we're fucked. As long as politicians and other demagogues are allowed to get away with arrogantly denigrating highly educated Americans who have given their lives and careers over to tackling tough questions, we're fucked. As long as we live in a culture that is unable or unwilling to differentiate theological belief from evidence-based theories (or facts), and keep the former out of public schools, we're fucked. As long as our leaders in Washington are allowed to ignore or dishonestly ridicule reams of sound scientific evidence about our climate because it doesn't serve corporate America's bottom line, we're fucked. As long as those same leaders refuse to fund promising scientific research because their noisy flat-earth constituencies might be offended by it, we're fucked.

Here's where it will stop. The rest of the developed world is going to decline our invitation to join us on our trip back to the Dark Ages. They're going to go ahead and teach their kids to think critically, to appreciate fact from fantasy, to embrace the possibilities that new technologies and discoveries have to offer, and they're going to kick our asses in the laboratory, in the marketplace and in any other arena you can name. And the other countries are going to be exporting their crummy jobs for crummy pay to the good old U.S. of A., and we're going to take them because we're going to have so many citizens unable to do anything more challenging.

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