House Bill 597 enshrines ignorance

The more I think about this the madder I get. In a Facebook comment on my previous post, Anne Jefferson made a trenchant point:

We’re not going to teach about process, but we’re going to expect students to critically evaluate? Right.

She’s exactly right. Here’s the relevant language from the Bill:

(iii) The standards in science shall … focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and encourage students to analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the standards.

So students are blocked from learning about the processes of science, about how science evaluates and tests knowledge claims, about the interplay among theory, hypothesis, and data. Then, against this background of ignorance, they are to critique scientific knowledge claims. They are to evaluate scientific theories without having learned how to evaluate them!

I no longer believe that the authors of this Bill are merely ignorant. I now believe that they are consciously and deliberately subverting science education. They would produce students who are shackled to pre-existing ignorance, who don’t have the tools necessary to evaluate scientific knowledge claims, who are sheep ready for shearing by demagogues and charlatans. The authors of the Bill are profoundly anti-science. They prefer uninformed opinion and myths to real knowledge of how the world actually works.