by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
Once again, the schools can’t find enough math and science teachers. This has been going on for over thirty years all across this great land. Money incentives are offered, but methinks they wouldn’t be necessary if school systems would recognize characteristics of good math and hard science brains. If we could stop telling kids science consists in preparing for the standardized test questions, but rather in striving for objectivity, isolating factors through elimination of noise, making careful measurements, knowing the limitations of measuring devices, exploring unconventional considerations, handling the math, questioning existing paradigms, and being honest about outcomes, to name a few, science-types might get excited about working with youthful minds. When math becomes more about making sure minorities are represented working together in the color photographs that illustrate high school math books, and children are encouraged to feel positive about themselves should they carelessly pass bad numbers off to the engineers – you are going to get a lot of former math and science teachers preferring unskilled labor.
What keeps me, as a former math and science teacher, out of schools is that feeling that I’m living a lie when I have to play along with the latest political craze. I resisted very hard games of pin the diagnosis on the child. I think I had an anxiety attack up north a few years ago when, during a pleasant summer walk, I passed a school and espied lab benches through the window. All those fears came flooding back, of being once again forced to make kids comply with silly programs, filling out forms, the completion of which requires dishonesty or delusion to even answer the touchy-feely questions written in idiotic terminology about diversity and the whole child, . . .
I wanted to be like George Crookham, who took his science students to the creekside to read “The Great Book;” that is, the paleontological record. I liked throwing my kids into real-world chaos to see if they could discover order. I despised clean GIGO computer simulations masquerading as science. I believed there was no sin in excitement, query, and spontaneity. I was demanding, but I tried to make anything I asked worth the students’ while and fun. I wouldn’t have gotten into physics if it weren’t so amazing, and sometimes explosive.
And so, all you administrators, you have a choice: It’s us or your use of children as diagnoses to get more money into the system.