November 23, 2021

Arthur Camins: Tell It to the School Board: We Demand Science and Care

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Arthur Camins has worked in education for decades and across the country. Here he supports a call for science and facts in school.

I hear a constant lament: I can’t believe this is the world we are leaving our children.

It is inescapable: Truths, lies, and inaction about climate change, Covid-19, and racism. Everywhere we see pitched battles over whether and how to respond. Our children live in this adult-made mess. They pay attention. Some age-appropriate shielding of young children may be wise, but they don’t live under rocks. The very least we can do is ensure that they grow up to be smarter about evidence and more caring than so many adults. It is imperative and possible through K-12 curriculum that prioritizes scientific thinking and a caring school culture.

Adults and young people alike are bombarded with a range of information which, depending on personal perspective, appears to range from obviously true to patently false with a whole lot of ambiguity in between.  We want to figure out what’s true and what’s not, but too many of us are flummoxed. Even more challenging and frustrating, we often hit a wall in dealing with repeaters of clear disinformation or folks who simply refuse to care about others.  For the sake of our children, we need to do better now and prepare them to face similar conflicts in their future.

f scientific illiteracy, mistrust of social institutions, and lack of care for fellow humans created a perfect anti-truth storm. As a result, we failed as a nation to stave off the dire climate-altering effects of uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels or to take timely action to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Several generations of decision-makers in government and industries have abetted the use of scientific inquiry to make things worse rather than better for most of their fellow humans. In addition, we live with the lie that inequity and racism are normal and unavoidable, making the impact far worse for some than others.

Alarmingly, a small cadre of parents, with Republican support, are now making a loud fuss at school board meetings demanding purposeful ignorance of history and disease prevention measures.  The rest of us, the majority, need to fight just as vigorously–but without the anger and threats–for curricula and instruction that help prepare students to deal with complex contentious problems.

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