Saturday, February 26, 2005


Prudent Planners

Let's say you were the commander-in-chief of a group of weekend warriors whose main duty was to drive a bunch of beat up, old vehicles up and down I-70 for training each summer. Occassionally, because they are a good, competent, patriotic, well-trained group of people, you'd send them out to help people in need following natural disasters, such as a floods, tornados, or hurricanes.

Then, suddenly, you decide to send them away from their homes, jobs, and families on long deployments in a war zone. As the prudent planner you are, you'd probably want to fix up the old beaters they drive and put some state-of-the-art armor on them-- at least as good as the armor you have on your own limo -- wouldn't you?

Now, let's say you're not commander in chief. You're a brilliant educational leader and you want to change your state's science curriculum. You've decided that traditional science just isn't cutting it anymore. What we really need, you think, is a dose of that ol' time religion in science classes. Most of your supporters think that means teaching the biblical account of creation found in Genesis. Others think it means teaching intelligent design. Still others, the sophisticated few like yourself, feel it's enough to "just teach the controversy. "

Your state has a certification system in place to insure that the people giving instruction to young people are qualified in the subjects they teach. In fact, all the universities in your state have developed teacher training programs for each of the teaching disciplines, such as science, math, music, English, and so on.

Naturally, as the prudent planner you are, you look at those teacher training programs to see what if anything would qualify the teachers of your state to instruct students in the new subjects you've added to the curriculum.

What you find, when you look at the University of Kansas academic program for Biology teachers in secondary schools (to take a random example from among many) is that prospective teachers are required to successfully complete a program of 138-141 hours to graduate with a bachelor of science education, and an additional 34 hours as part of their license requirements.

Since you are on top of everything, you'd also look at the actual classes a Biology major must complete at KU. You'd find that they have to complete 46-48 hours of general education requirements in such subjects as English, Math, History and Biology. You'd also find that they have to complete 52-53 hours in courses such as Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Principles of Genetics, and Foundations of Chemistry.

Because you're a detail man, you'd also discover that teacher candidates must enroll in one "Cultural Achievement Course." Among the classes that meet this requirement are four philosophy and five religion classes.

You have a big, big brain. Multi-tasking is a snap, so you also observe that there is no research to back up intelligent design, no textbooks, and no lesson plans.

This might concern you, briefly, because you wouldn't want to think that teachers -- who are unqualified to teach your new intelligent design subject matter by any university level training -- might have a "Come to Jesus" prostelytizing session with their students instead.

But, you wouldn't worry about it for long, because having learned so much about thinking ahead, you've decided to pursue a new career as a chess grandmaster. You can see the next 15 moves in your head. You are a prudent planner.


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