Friday, August 27, 2010

Lucia National Standards appear to be a vehicle for environmental propaganda

I've been having a look at the National Standards online, and was not surprised to see that the Standards are not exempt from perpetuating the new environmental religion disguised under the guise of science. This is from Illustrating the reading standard:

The students in a year 5 and 6 class are involved in a science investigation to discover how environmental causes and human actions have led to many animals becoming endangered and to identify a range of actions that individuals and organisations can take to restore the habitats of these endangered species.

'Plight of the Sea Turtle' deals with the decreasing numbers of sea turtles in the Pacific and describes some initiatives to prevent their extinction. The information is logically organised, and the text is well supported by photos, a map, captions, and easily identified information boxes.

The teacher chose 'Plight of the Sea Turtle' because the text includes a range of features, such as descriptive and explanatory text, factual information, and historical details. These require the students to find and use several pieces of information in order to ask and answer questions about this endangered animal.

This example illustrates aspects of the task and text and demonstrates how a student engages with both task and text to meet the reading demands of the curriculum. A number of such examples would be used to inform the overall teacher judgment for this student.

As far as I can tell, this is not a required text for the Standard, but is shown as an example of the type of text that can be chosen. However, when examples are given in these sorts of things they are not arbitrary. They are not chosen by accident.

Imagine, for a moment, if the text was instead a historical investigation of the Crusades, showing how the mythology of the Crusades being bad was influencing our true understanding of the past and why the Crusades were actually neccessary as a defence of the West. Wouldn't that be cool?

UPDATED to add: Or a scientific investigation on why many wealthy countries have too many older people in proportion to the number of children. Even better.

Related link: National Standards Reading and Writing by the End of Year 5

12 comment(s):

Psycho Milt said...

There are a couple of reasons behind the choice of this kind of example ahead of ones like your Crusades suggestion:

1. Year 5/6 kids tend to care about endangered species (well, cute ones anyway), but not to give a toss about the Crusades. If you have to get a couple of dozen of them to pay attention, such things are relevant.

2. The fact that human activities are endangering various animal species is uncontentious, whereas rating the Crusades good or bad would be contentious not only in the sense of opinions differing, but in the sense that serious historians would not attempt to do so.

Lucia Maria said...

Fair enough, PM.

So you don't think this choice is propaganda and is instead just trying to capture the interest of the children and that is it?

muerk said...

Yeah I'm not seeing the problem here. Is human action causing species to decline? Well yes it is. It's hardly a value judgement, it's just factual.

This is not to say I don't agree with you when it comes to the modern divinisation of nature by some people. That is clearly happening, but this is not an example of it. We must be carefully prudential in this matter and not throw the baby out with the bath water here.

Lucia Maria said...

Muerk,

When I was that age (9-10) I was reading about the stars, planets, the universe, the structure of the earth (included plate tectonics, volcanoes) and the history of England from the Middle Ages up. I had already previously read children's books on ancient history (pre-history, Greece, Rome, Egypt etc) and dinosaurs.

If it were me as a 9 year old, capturing my interest with sea turtles would have bored me to tears.

I would be far more impressed if the choice of text was about something more neutral, such as dinosaurs. They became extinct, but we can't blame man for that.

The problem I have with children being covertly made responsible for the possible extinction of various species is that at that age, there's nothing they can do about it. Sure, teach them science while you're teaching them to read, but there's a wealth of topics out there without training the young to be thinking humans are evil because our activity can cause extinctions.

muerk said...

It really depends on how this subject is taught. My boys learned about how humans bringing in stoats and rats to NZ has caused the decline of native bird populations. They met Sky the kiwi dog (she finds wild kiwis so that DOC can monitor and care for them). There was no way this was propaganda, it was interesting factual information about their country.

Why should we hide our mistakes as a human species from children? God tells us to care for His creation and often we don't, we abuse it instead. It's trite, but children are our future, I hope they they will take better care of God's creation than previous generations have. We need to learn from our past in order to improve the future.

Humans have created a fallen world, it is through Jesus Christ's Incarnation that human nature has been redeemed, but we still live with the Fall and it's consequences. Children need to be taught how they can live a good life by making good choices as they become adults. This includes care for creation.

Psycho Milt said...

So you don't think this choice is propaganda and is instead just trying to capture the interest of the children and that is it?

Pretty much, yeah. The fact that human activity is endangering various species is uncontentious. Treating that as a bad thing is imposing a value judgement on the pupils and could therefore be presented as a propaganda exercise, but really, who out there is going to promote the view that us causing species extinction is a good thing?

Ozy Mandias said...

The subject was probably chosen because most teachers can teach 'look after the environment'.

What is more of a worry is the fact the National Standards are a complete waste of time, money, resources and they wont help the education of our kids.

muerk said...

PM - Giant spiders, I'm more than happy for those beasties to be extinct. Actually make that _all_ spiders. No, scratch that, all eight legged fanged beasties can just go right away thank you very much. Them and door to door salesmen and telemarketers, they're a species right?

Lucia Maria said...

Ozy,

On that we can totally agree. Well, maybe you and I can - not sure about everyone else.

Psycho,

I'm quite happy to promote the idea that species extinction is a good thing. Isn't it wonderful that dinosaurs no longer roam the earth? I mean, who'd want to come face to kneecap with a Tyrannosaurus Rex late one night? Surely not you?

And then there's the Katipo. Poisonous spiders should become extinct rather than be protected by weirdo government types.

Muerk,

The thing with propaganda is that yes, it can be true as well. The idea of propaganda is the spreading of ideas that "ought to be spread." Such as the notion that human activity should be reduced because it causes harm to the planet. Especially if human activity is only presented as occurring in a harmful way. People that believe that human beings only cause harm to the planet are more susceptible to ideas such as population control and euthanasia.

Maybe ask your boys if they think that New Zealand being discovered was a good thing or a bad thing to see which way they are leaning on this.

Lucia Maria said...

Muerk,

Just saw your comment on spiders. I see we agree there!

muerk said...

LM :) I'm glad we're protecting native species, even if that does include the katipo. They are part of the environment and important. (Despite my horror and utter dislike of them.) Human activity should be thoughtful and respectful to the fact that we a part of God's creation and stewards of it.

Of course when we abandon the preciousness and sacredness of human life and we place an extreme importance over and above human life on animals then yes, we have a problem. I'm thinking of Peter Singer's work here.

ZenTiger said...

Here's a good school project:

Explain why in excess of 1 billion dollars in foreign aid has been spent on Flood Prevention Schemes following devastating floods in 1976 and 1992, in Pakistan, and how all of that money appears to have been embezzled rather than actually spent on flood protection.

Examine if there will be any flow on effects from such corruption:

1. Will people lose their lives in further flooding some day?
2. Is it possible millions will be made homeless?
3. Will the corruption go unpunished?
4. Will even more money be put into flood prevention following a similar tragedy, with the same results?
5. How far up the chain does the corruption go? How easy is it for the UN and various other bodies to hand out billions and not even check how the money is spent?
6. How many animals will die because of such flooding?
7. How many children lost their toys and pets, not to mention family and homes, not to mention lives?
8. Will the extra rubbish caused by this flow out to sea and kill a sea turtle?

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