|December 10, 1989||Volume 1 Number 4|
Alas, we have found the Turkey of the Decade, and perhaps the Millennium. It is called "science" as defined by educators. Webster defines science as knowledge of nature and the physical world; concerned with establishing facts, principles and methods of acquiring knowledge. Yet, educators have taken "science," which was once an enormous idea of an organized system of knowledge about nature and the physical world, and reduced this vast body of knowledge to a series of isolated data bits, occasionally involving the use of test tubes and microscopes. For educators, "science" can only be found in science books and laboratories. Educators claim they are teaching children about the mysteries of science when children are asked to memorize the phylogenetic scale for their science exam.
In reality, science is everywhere and in everything. Educators have confused the ideas of science and research, and have come to the conclusion that science is only being used by a limited number of people who are working in laboratories. Educators think that the only scientists in the world are people who wear white coats and study various phenomena under laboratory conditions. In reality, scientists (or more accurately, researchers) who work under laboratory conditions usually have to abandon all knowledge of scientific principles and methods in order to carry on a wide range of experimentation. They have to use their own intuition, creativity and imagination in order to make a leap in knowledge. They have to take risks and chances in order to get a result. Then, researchers have to go back and use the principles of the scientific method in order to find out more about how and why they were able to achieve that result.
Science and the use of the scientific method is not confined to laboratories. Welders use scientific principles all day long. Engineers and architects who design highways and skyscrapers use science. Aircraft mechanics, electricians, boat builders, farmers and coal miners all use a systematized body of knowledge. Educators' ideas about "science" are so small, limited and inaccurate that it is difficult to describe them.
What about plumbers? Plumbers must use scientific principles, otherwise none of us would have running water. How about carpenters? The average mediocre carpenter applies more science in a week than most people who work in laboratories apply in a year. If he (or she) did not, you would not want to live in a house that that carpenter built. How about your auto mechanic? If he or she is not using science to repair you car, you should not drive it. What about your Maytag repairman (God forbid that you would need him)? If he or she does not apply the scientific method, your appliances will not get fixed.
Our greatest scientific contributions come from tradespeople. Over 95% of all scientific knowledge of nature and the physical world is passed down from one generation to another by tradespeople--not by eighth grade science teachers or laboratory researchers. In fact, people who work in laboratories are usually trying to keep their discoveries a secret. Tradespeople are responsible for the maintenance of society. If you do not think that this is true, take a trip to South Carolina and see who is rebuilding the communities that were hit by hurricane Hugo. Or go to the San Francisco area and see who is needed to rebuild after the earthquake. Are those men and women who are rebuilding these communities not scientists?
There was a time when having a trade was considered a valuable asset. Today, having a "trade" is a bad word and a symbol of personal failure and disgrace. Yet, in reality, tradespeople must apply very specific scientific principles in order to achieve the results that they and everyone else are looking for. Educators so devalue the work of tradespeople that they do not consider people who work outside of laboratories as scientists. Ironically, the so-called scientists who work in laboratories are often so detached from physical reality that they can spend years pursuing their own mental illusions without ever producing any positive results. They are often paid very high salaries for indulging in their non-reality oriented thinking, and they are rarely held accountable for what they say and do. America's Star Wars defense project is an example of the work of this nation's scientists.
Tradespeople, on the other hand, are required to produce results that are demonstrated in physical reality every day. A plumber scientist must properly install a plumbing system or he (or she) will not be paid. An auto mechanic scientist must properly repair a car engine or he will soon be out of business. A farmer scientist must be able to repair his tractors and tillers when they break down or he (or she) will not have a crop to harvest.
Educators and politicians in this nation are now expressing concern because they say that this nation is falling behind in the field of science. They claim that students are lacking in motivation and that students need to be stimulated and encouraged to go into scientific fields. What educators and political leaders are identifying is not a student lack of interest. It is a teacher lack of interest. Educators are completely un-involved with physical reality. They have no real knowledge or skill, and they do not know how to acquire it. It is ludicrous to think that someone who can barely function in physical reality will be able to convey to students a heartfelt interest in science, real knowledge of nature and the physical world. A teacher who cannot even find the fuse box in the school certainly cannot teach children about the miracle of electricity. An educator who does not know how to test the batteries in her portable radio cannot teach children about the field of electronics. An educator who cannot change the oil in his own car cannot speak to children about rotary motion or how engines have changed the world. Educators are incompetent. All educators can do is communicate their own incompetence, disinterest and contempt for the knowledge of physical world reality.
Educators think that if you memorize the essentials of something, then you know about that something. Learning in school always means memorizing no matter what anyone says. Science is knowledge of the physical world and nature. This knowledge cannot be acquired through memory. A child cannot learn about plant life by collecting a sample of leaves each fall and memorizing the names of the leaves for a test. In fact, such an exercise only teaches children to abhor anything that has to do with leaves and trees and nature itself. The average collection of so-called scientific equipment found in a high school is mostly a collection of non-functional trinkets which educators dangle in front of students with the hope that it is not too late to interest them in the "wonder" of it all. In reality, there is more "science" going on in the gymnasium and in the auto repair shop than there is in all of the rest of the school combined. There is more science being used by the school custodian in a week than most educators will use in a year, But, educators do not live in reality. They live in a made-up Disneyland of ideas. Now, they have created a whole new park in the Disneyland of Education, and they call it the "Science Department."
Educators think that they can turn children into great men and women by having them memorize facts about great men and women. Educators are not going to produce great inventors by having children memorize a list of great inventors and their inventions. Edison (a great scientist) did not become a great inventor by sitting around memorizing the names of great inventors. Henry Ford (a great scientist) did not learn how to build cars by memorizing the names of engine parts in a science book. He learned about engines by repairing farm equipment from the time he was very young.
How about the Wright Brothers? They were great aeronautical engineers and scientists. Do you think they learned about aerodynamics in their science courses? What about Alexander Graham Bell, Marconi, Benjamin Franklin and all the other great scientists whose names and inventions educators still pound into children's heads? Do you think that the parents or teachers of these men had to try to "inspire" them by taking them to their local science museums so they could view exhibits encased in glass?
Science, real knowledge of nature and the physical world, is beyond the grasp of educators. You could even say that there is no such thing as science because science is in everything in reality and therefore cannot be extracted out as a separate and discrete entity. Educators have used the words "science" and "scientist" in an attempt to create an elite aristocracy. Education's primary function has been to create and insure this aristocracy. Over the last 75 years, educators have surgically removed the idea of science and scientists from everyday reality. They have pumped it up to create their own version of the aristocracy. Now, we have scientists and lay people. We have an elite group of people who wear white coats and work in laboratories, who are seen as the holders of all real knowledge, which they guard as "trade secrets," while all the real science is being applied every day by the tradespeople, most of whom educators have attempted to destroy and disgrace.
It is so ironic to hear educators speak about the need to inspire children to study science and enter the so-called scientific fields, while educators refuse to apply any aspect of the scientific method to their own profession. In fact, if educators used the scientific method to study themselves and what they are doing with human beings in their classrooms, they would have shut down their own institutions by now, and it would not have been necessary for us to write these newsletters.
When educators and politicians say they want to renew children's interest in "science," what they are really saying is they want to find a way to keep children interested in memorizing and retaining a set of useless data bits which they call science. Educators and politicians say they want to inspire children to greatness. They do so by using all their personal and financial resources to destroy all the natural interests, gifts, skills and instincts which are required by any human being in order to achieve greatness. What educators and politicians want are plain vanilla automated robots, and that is exactly what they are getting.
There is one consolation for American educators and politicians who fear that this nation has fallen behind in the field of science. The consolation is that most Western societies, as well as Japan, have adopted America's destructive educational system. These nations are now producing in their offspring the same incompetence, disinterest and contempt for physical world knowledge and skill that can now be found among American children and young adults. Soon, all these industrialized nations will catch up with the United States and they, too, will produce generations of people who have no skill or interest in pursuing any "scientific" endeavor that has to do with direct involvement with physical reality. Like the United States, all these nations will also have destroyed the interest and inclinations of any budding scientist inventors, so that Americans will have no need to fear competition. There simply will not be any.