Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Last Call For The Science Of Stupid

FOX News once again proves to be why America can't have nice things, like government or infrastructure or science education.

A Fox News “Trouble With Schools” segment suggested on Wednesday that U.S. kids were behind in the world because a physics teacher in Seattle had tried to teach a lesson to privileged white students on why there were not more black physicists. 
“This probably wasn’t on the curriculum in your high school physics class,” Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck announced. “A high school physics teacher came up with new six-day curriculum that includes lessons on white privilege. He says it will prepare students for institutional racism and social justice! So, what does that have to with physics exactly?” 
“It’s not an open mic night in these classrooms,” the National Review‘s Katherine Timpf opined. “You don’t get to decide you can talk about anything you want to these students. It has to be about what your class is. Physics class, you talk about physics. Really, it’s that simple.”

Well gosh, talking about why there aren't more black physicists seems entirely germane to a physics class, but not if you're an idiot conservative.

But in a guest post at the Quantum Progress blog, University Prep school physics teacher Moses Rifkin explained exactly how his lesson was important at a private school where students “weren’t learning about their own privilege (academic and, in most cases, economic and racial).” 
“I’ve found a way to introduce my students to the ideas of racial and gender privilege, to the idea that our society is far from a meritocracy, and to broaden their conception of who (racially, gender-wise, etc.) does science to include a much broader slice of society,” he wrote. “The project revolves, at least initially, around a question: why are there so few black[1] physicists? [..] Physicists therefore make up a small percentage of the U.S. population (0.06%), but that percentage is 3.2 times higher among white Americans than black.”

So using statistics, in a physics class, to analyze the data and draw conclusions.  Wow.  That is so totally off base for a science class.  Oh, and this is a private prep school.  Pretty much thought conservatives were okay with private schools teaching whatever they hell they want, because free market, right?

This was not enough to convince Timpf. 
“Physics class!” she exclaimed. “He said he was jealous that all the other teachers got to talk about society — English, History — then he also said they’re not learning about. Which one is it?” 
“I don’t’ know what this is really about,” Timpf continued. “I guess it’s just his own agenda. He wants to talk about it.”

You know, I went to a state residential magnet high school for science and math back in North Carolina, and the best teachers I had taught English, US History, and Brit Lit.  And yes, our science and math classes did at times cover the social history of the sciences and the people who were famous for them.

Go figure.  Asking why there aren't more black physicists in physics class seems like a damn good topic to me.

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