Friday, January 23, 2015

Why Don’t People Trust Science? by Kim Bremmer

Why Don't People Trust Science?

People involved in agriculture ask themselves this question every day because the future of farming depends on the answer more than ever before. Advancements in science and technology allow farmers to continually improve their operations to do what they do best; improve the care for their animals and land to produce more with less.  Each facet of agriculture has an unparalleled success story that every single American should celebrate and be grateful for before closing their eyes tonight. This all seems like such an easy concept to grasp for those of us who get to work on farms every day. The success of farmers has literally allowed people the time to chase their own dreams instead of having to grow their own food every day. Unfortunately, it also has allowed the average person to lose touch of the reality of farming. Their closest interaction is through Google, Farmville and the Bachelor.

So why don't people trust science?  It's easy...Traditional Education Stinks ...

I think the problem can be traced to our traditional education system. We have given up independent school districts and local control for grants and federal and state funding. I truly believe that if we allowed our great teachers to actually teach, we wouldn't be in this everyday battle of defending science.

As we continue to "teach to the test", follow a strict syllabus, and teach our children to memorize and learn to parrot instead of think, we are on a slippery slope of anti-intellectualism. Yes, folks, we are getting dumbed down. We provide our children with an education that often diminishes and underestimates them. Critical thinking, confidence from independent activity, and independent growth are rarely fostered. I have always been a fan of Montessori education and it was never more apparent to me than when I had one child in public school and my youngest one at a Montessori school.

It was a new Montessori school just beginning with a 3-5 year-old program. If you don't know about Montessori schools, I encourage you to read about them and visit one. The best book I ever read on the topic was "Montessori Madness!

A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education, by Trevor Eissler. Long story short: my 4 year-old and 4th grader were doing the same math... which was convenient as a Mom who was helping with homework, but so sad at the same time.  Now I am not saying my local public school is bad – they were just following the rules. When I brought this to their attention, they simply said we don't do that multiplication in the 4th grade curriculum. No one does. It is obvious the rules are bad, the system is broken, and we don't allow our teachers flexibility to do their jobs. 

Busy work does not equal learning, and certainly not at the level that I expect. The roots of the Montessori education method lie in the belief that children want to learn and do so more effectively independently with hands on activities. Traditional education is the opposite and is geared toward the assumption that children avoid learning and must be taught with the motivation of rewards or punishments. Everyone on the same page, at the same time, learning to memorize the same thing, to progress through the syllabus. You have to see it to believe it, but concentrated learning in an orderly environment in a Montessori classroom is truly something to marvel at and worth your time to observe. We need to get to a place of critical thinking and problem solving in classrooms instead of memorizing. And I believe all good teachers today would absolutely LOVE to do this if they could.

Agriculture should take note.  Our failing education system today is a result of regulation on so many levels.  We are on the same path if we continue to allow decisions to be made for our farms by people who have never actually been there and done that.  One of my greatest fears is that my grandchildren someday may be hungry because a highly educated group of loud self-proclaimed experts and elitists regulated too many of the great farmers and ranchers in our country out of business, simply because they don't trust science.

Kim Bremmer is passionate about the people and their accomplishments for improving human life through agriculture. Trained as a ruminant nutritionist she is now feeding the minds of those who do not understand what the farming provides for them.

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