Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs
On Spotlight: A Massachusetts community college is greening the curriculum. But a new degree lets students study “environmental awareness” but go light on science.
The three-year-old Green Curriculum Project encourages faculty members “to integrate environmental topics into their traditional courses, in subjects ranging from English to math.”
It appears that they don’t know the difference between education and indoctrination.
“Environmental Awareness” majors need to be really clear that there is no employment for people who have only that degree, even if it avoids indoctrination. They need to be prepared to combine the degree with specific technical training, or to pursue some other specific occupation.
The job offers will come rolling in
Richard N: It beats me how you get indoctrination out of the article. It just makes good sense to reach into other curriculum areas to enrich your teaching. I teach biology and environmental science but I regularly correct grammar and spelling, use math, point out relevant historical events in science, draw and sketch, etc.
The article specifically points out that the program is designed to students who plan to transfer to a four year program. Sounds like a reasonable preparation to me.
“Environmental awareness” isn’t going to impart any of the quantitative analysis needed to see if a particular “environmental” idea is good, indifferent or completely mistaken. The problem is that those who are only “aware” have to take the word of others about the merits of ideas; this lends itself to presentation of conclusions as dogma (and indoctrination in that dogma).
Far better to have a solid command of basic math and statistics, and as exercises in awareness apply these practices to everything—including various claims about environmental merit, both false and true.
Richard N: It beats me how you get indoctrination out of the article.
Let me see if I can explain it to you Richard B. Subjects such as math, English, chemistry, physics, anthropology etc. have their own body of knowledge. However, at some Catholic schools they integrate religious teaching into every one of these subjects. They do it to indoctrinate the students into their religion. That is exactly what is being done at the North Shore Community College except is the religion of environmentalism that is being taught.
Ah, the memories I have from my days studying “sustainable” development and “awareness” at UMCP. The sustainable development courses I took in the mid 90’s were about how to pass laws to limit how many children Americans could have and how to return most of the United States to its rightful owners – wolves and bears. I’m not sure where the “development” came into any of this. I’m not regretful about taking the class – it’s where I changed from being a liberal into being a libertarian.
When I got my first real job in my field of study (conservation biology) it was in thanks to the biology degree, not the sustainable development and environmental studies classes that I took.
Recently someone asked me what she should do to become a naturalist so that she can teach children about nature. One of the things I told her is to take real science classes and that she needs to learn to discern between advocacy and science.
An environmental science professor of mine on the first day of class asked us if we could tell the difference between environmental science and environmentalism. He said if we were looking for the latter to drop the class.
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