The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Sharen Jergenson: Mother Nature's goat

  • How do we react when told that children are being “brainwashed into believing Al Gore type carbon footprints will bring us to the end of time?”
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  • By now, back-to-school jitters have scattered to the wind as children have adapted back to the rigors of a classroom. New friendships have formed and guidelines established for new and more challenging expectations. Each child’s progress is revealed at parent-teacher conferences. And, what might that encompass? Seems unsubstantiated theory has children “spending a great deal of time on political correctness, multiculturalism and especially on environmental issues.” For those believing things are better left unchanged, “political correctness” became a convenient right-wing label for that which it rejected. To them, avoiding derogatory expressions was painful. While a teacher will reinforce rules against negative expression, there are not enough hours in a school day for “political correctness and multiculturalism” to be added to the curriculum. Those are disciplines to be taught in the home. However, the concept of the “Golden Rule” is not foreign to children in a classroom, whether or not it’s multicultural. And, for anyone to state that children are being brainwashed about environmental issues, shows their own lack of good sense. Only the foolish would toy with “Mother Nature’s Goat.” Only the foolish would infer there is exclusion of the basic concepts of education being taught. Anyone with a shred of intellectual curiosity could rule that out by simply visiting a 5th grade classroom. Observe their concentration being directed on a smart board full of numbered equations. Yes, they are learning math. It’s the year for 5th graders to learn how to put all the academic pieces together, so they’ll be prepared for the transition to middle school. The math program steps it up a notch to more complicated problems. Learning the phrase, “please excuse my dear aunt sally” is an aide to remembering the order of operations: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. Geometry is added, and their little heads pore over polygons, calculating perimeter and area, and formulas to calculate volume. They also add, subtract, and convert fractions and mixed numbers. My head spins seeing the implementation of Common Core Standards. Have you yet determined that to teach a classroom of children is like teaching a room full of singing cicadas on a high from cupcake crumbs? Every teacher in the country should have their salaries doubled, insurance paid for, and be sent flowers every week. But, more grade-based milestones get added. Reading? Yes, I said reading! An integration of critical thinking evolves to develop such skills as creative thought, open-mindedness, and ability to listen and collaborate with others. Writing and grammar go hand-in-hand with reading. It’s called Literacy. This foundation of communication is built to last a lifetime. Social Studies focus is on our nation’s history and the implications of different cultures on the colonies. It includes the evolution of our government and its branches in addition to learning more geography and states features. So, do you note any indication of children being spoon-fed “political correctness and/or multiculturalism?” And, what if they were? According to Columbia University professor, Deanna Kuhn, “to assess higher-order thinking skills, controversial topics are exactly what students should be reasoning about.”
    Page 2 of 2 - How do we react when told that children are being “brainwashed into believing Al Gore type carbon footprints will bring us to the end of time?” Has the Bible story of people ridiculing Noah for building the Ark been forgotten? Lack of understanding left them foolishly unprepared. We may not be faced with a flood, but are we so ingenious to afford ignoring Mother Nature’s signs of change? She is pleased children learn about the planet. That they learn of glacier sublimation and calving, and can identify differences of polar bears becoming endangered or extinct. They become hands-on little scientists exploring the physical world. They study the solar system, photosynthesis, and ecosystems. They learn the steps of the scientific method and how to think analytically to solve problems. They understand not to poke “Mother Nature’s goat” as she’ll stir quite a fuss. If only her wisdom was everyone’s guide to better learning about the environment and the effect we have on it. It’s time to toss out old tattered backpacks stuffed with ignorance. Time to release outdated views. You will realize how little you know, and that there’s so much more to learn. But, be content in knowing that the lyrics of “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” have not yet been changed to “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Unendangered Foliage.”
    And, that’s my opinion. . . .
    (Sharen Jergenson of Heber Springs writes her “And that’s my opinion column... “ for The Sun-Times monthly)
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