Eating a cherry

On the way to school, in the rain.

Despite the concrete, the asphalt, the bricks, the steel, the general busyness of a patch of Earth with more people than sense, Bloomfield is part of what once was a vast temperate forest.

The trees remember.

On the walk to school, mulberries beckon. On the walk back, I gnosh on a cherry or two.

Om the way back–they may already be carbon dioxide again.

Absolutely free, absolutely delicious, absolutely unearned.


Fear and loathing in a science class

You cannot learn science without letting go of what your brain knows to be true.

Antoine Lavoisier was decapitated.
His final act was blinking repeatedly after his head rolled into the basket, his last experiment.

To teach science to children requires deconstructing the world they know and rebuilding their reality with incomplete models tying what little we know into something cogent. Kids understandably resist.

Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake.
“Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.”

You can, of course, accept science on faith, a much easier task. The Earth is round and spins. The stars are far away and the universe is expanding. The mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell.

Nikolai Vavilov starved to death in prison.
His crime was pushing Mendelian genetics in a country that preferred Lamarckism.

There is no point in “believing” in science. It is not a faith-based endeavor, and ultimately the powerful dictate what a culture is allowed to believe.

Nor is science “real.” It is models built on models built on models, a complex landscape that helps explain what we cannot understand.

Science allows us to make predictions and create tools that hold more power than humans can be trusted to use wisely, tools traditionally left to priests and politicians.

Science is under attack for good reasons by those who hold certain beliefs. I don’t happen to agree with those beliefs, but those of us who teach science would be wise to grasp the damage we may cause to the worlds of the students who resist us.

When things start to crumble, folks tend to grab hard onto their ancient beliefs. I fear for science education in the coming years.

In the meantime, I’ll continue my quest to destroy your child’s world.

Daylight Saving Time, again….

“…[T]he shift to Daylight Saving Time (DST) results in a dramatic increase in cyberloafing behavior at the national level.”

DT Wagner et al, J Appl Psychol. 2012 Sep;97(5):1068-76

A quarter of the world’s population will be groggy today. A few people will die traumatically. Students’ test skills will deteriorate. A few more people will die of heart attacks. The stock market may crash.

And yet we still do it.

You cannot save time.

You cannot add an hour of sunshine to your day.

You can, though, manipulate human conceits. If nothing else, Daylight Saving Time is an excellent way to demonstrate to children the folly and the real consequences of humans believing they control more than they control.

Tomorrow my 1st period lambs will trudge through before dawn through blackened banks of snow to get to school. Broad Street in Bloomfield will look like the zombie apocalypse. We’ll tell them to keep their heads up (or at least wipe the drool of their desks before they leave), but we are bucking millions of years of evolution.

Photo by Eugene Ter-Avakyan, cc-2.0

Humans need sleep. Adolescents (still considered by most to be humans) need more than the 97 minutes my kids average on Sunday nights.

And why not? What better way to prep for college and career readiness in the global economy than making students take life-altering assessments while comatose? Have kids knock down a few Xanax pills, and chase it with gin and Adderall cocktails to make it really authentic.

“About 1 in every 6 high school seniors in the United States has ever had some exposure to prescription stimulants, either medically or nonmedically.”

Stonehenge photo by Resk, released to PD

Yep, a repeat–I ilke cycles….