Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Here We Go Again

Longtime readers will know that FLG questions the whole "we need to encourage our children to study math and science so that we can compete in the global economy" bullshit. Today, we have this piece in the NYTimes, which makes FLG want to bludgeon whoever wrote it.

The National Academies, the country’s leading advisory group on science and technology, warned in 2005 that unless the United States improved the quality of math and science education, at all levels, it would continue to lose economic ground to foreign competitors.

Don't get FLG wrong. He thinks math and science education are important, but not for the purposes of economic competition. Liberal arts provides insight into what is relevant to people.

In a 2009 survey, nearly a third of this country’s manufacturing companies reported having trouble finding enough skilled workers.

Of fucking course they say that. But what's important is what's missing from that sentence. This country’s manufacturing companies reported having trouble finding enough skilled workers...at the salaries they want to pay. FLG believes it was David Foster who pointed out the big secret of engineering, that companies would rather hire young, inexperienced engineers at lower salaries and dump the more experienced guys of a certain age. It's not so much that there aren't skilled people out there, but that companies want them cheap. Encouraging everybody to get into engineering and math, increases their supply of labor. Of course they want to get that subsidized by the government, rather than say increasing salaries, which would provide even more encouragement for people to get into the field than tinkering with curriculum and such.

Too often, science curriculums are grinding and unimaginative, which may help explain why more than half of all college science majors quit the discipline before they earn their degrees. The science establishment has long viewed a high abandonment rate as part of a natural winnowing.

FLG always hates this we need to make it exciting and relevant bullshit, whether it's childhood booklists or college science. Better that people who really love chemistry tough it out then try to make it cool. Mr. Wizard was great and all, but let's not make it the model for higher education.

Congress has an important role to play. It can start by embracing the academies’ call to attract as many as 10,000 qualified math and science teachers annually to the profession. One sound way to do that — while also increasing the number of minority scientists — is to expand funding for programs that support high-caliber math and science students in college in return for their commitment to teach in needy districts.

And this is where FLG really lost it. WHO THE FUCK CARES WHAT COLOR THE PHYSICIST'S, CHEMIST'S, OR BIOLOGIST'S SKIN IS?! Science is supposed to be objective, .i.e colorblind. Why does everything have to be a fucking social engineering project? Wah, we need more women engineers. Wah, we need more African-American scientists.

If there's discrimination, then that's a problem. But introducing the idea that we must encourage some sort of color balance in the people who chose certain disciplines out of nowhere and with no justification other than some sort vague sense that we need to balance outcomes in everything as a goal makes little sense. Especially when the argument is "we need to do this for the bullshit reason that it's going to stimulate the economy, which by the way our CEOs who have a vested interest in agreeing with this agree with. Oh, and by the way, let's just throw in that we also need to encourage African-Americans because science is a good thing and we want to encourage good things among African-Americans because we're a bunch of paternalistic Upper West Side fuckwads."

Did the person or persons who wrote this editorial really think they were offering insight? Were they drunk? Perhaps they'd been hit by a subway car on the way to work.


The Ancient said...

Years ago, a friend was twice offered a job writing editorials for the Times. Each time he said no.

One reason was he felt every member of the editorial board was obliged to write a certain number of truly inane articles every year (and this one is a particularly good example of the genre).

The other reason was that he didn't know anyone who actually read the Times's editorials.

Alpheus said...



Withywindle said...

A dermatologist?

George Pal said...

Melanin freaks.

Anonymous said...

Ancient, hahahahahahahaha

Alpheus, hahahahhahahhahaha

Withywindle, hahahhahahahhahahaha

George, hahahahhahahahahha

The first year we were married Mr. P whisked me away for a romantic weekend in Ann Arbor. He got a suite, had roses waiting dinner at our favorite restaurant followed up with decent tickets to The Messiah - or something like that at Hill Auditorium. This had been a dream since his school days there of what to do the first Christmas holidays when married. So, the lead singers -it had advertised- were all bused in from NYC - in the front of the bus, not the back and the rest came from Michigan - school or towns. So, we show up feeling warm from the wine and find our seats. The chorus is already on the stage. Two women with shorn heads and dangly earings --you know right out of central casting for liberated woman- sat down behind us and started counting loudly the number of blacks, asians and whites in the chorus. Then much to their very vocal dismay announced the mix was not a proper representation based on society.

I lost it.


Mr. P has never taken me to such a venue again. For the record, he blames the women - not me.

Mrs. P

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.