"It's just that from a school standpoint, your mission statement can't be- "School: A place where kids with the requisite economic, cultural, and family background might learn something." The second you go into it assuming some kids won't make it, you've guaranteed that some kids won't make it. Not fair to make that choice for someone, especially a kid."
I couldn't agree more, Craig, and, make no mistake, I have nothing but the highest admiration for what you and others like you do. It's just that when you have to go into that mode to reach significant numbers of kids, the country is already playing catch up with nations that do not have the problems we are facing here. In the end, this will not turn out well for us and the kids you are trying so hard to reach. there just has to be a better way, and my opinion is that it involves a cultural makeover that we do not even seem to realize is necessary. Hence my pessimism.
"But on my way out it occurred to me that I haven't heard a kid say they want to be an astronaut in twenty years."
Disheartening. But when you look around it isn't hard to understand why.
"On the one hand, our society seems to be willing to embrace science and technology without a thought if it comes to saving lives through medicine or creating a cool new gadget. But as soon as we get into other areas of science, there seems to be a real distrust, a growing public anti-intellectualism, and a cynicism about scientific validity. The idea that scientists are nothing more than little people with personal agendas seems to be gaining quite a lot of ground."
Most people appreciate the tangible benefits of science, but are uneasy with the social and religious implications of our ever expanding understanding of the universe
in which we live on our tiny little planet. People can only adapt at a certain rate, and through science we have accelerated the rate of change in our environment, both intellectual and physical, far beyond the capacity of most to adapt. This leads to fear leads to suspicion leads to rejection, and so on. Also, there has been an undercurrent of anti intellectualism in the US from the beginning, probably resulting from the fact that science was associated with the ruling classes in countries from which our first immigrants fled. All of this IMO, of course.
"Biostitutes certainly don't make things easier, those that lend their scientific "expertise" to create any story that the highest bidder needs.""
Yup, just another addition to my short list of accountants, statisticians, and lawyers. Stripped of the jargon peculiar to their respective professions, when asked "what is 2 plus 2, they all answer, "what do you want it to be?"
"I digress. I could go on and on. But I certainly seem to be witnessing a growing anti-intellectual streak out there."
+1. It is part of the basic problem. I could go on, but we would probably end up with a thread equal in duration to The Great Carbon Flame War. ;0)