Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Animal Testing: What's wrong with education this time?

Okay it's really about our kids.  But this post was inspired, in part, by this cartoon gaining swift popularity:

There's a burgeoning rebellion against the way we teach.  I'm all for rebellion, but we have to figure out if we really want to overhaul the entire system or just tweak it a bit.  Too many people are ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  And not enough want to look beyond schools to other factors that might affect achievement.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Humans: Too Invasive or Too Compassionate to Survive

In my last post, and elsewhere over the years, I went all Agent Smith and suggested that humans are a virus that can't be contained. All other animals work within their environment to regulate their population.  As long as people don't mess things up by moving animals around (like bringing rabbits to Australia where they have no predators), animal populations decrease when food is scarce so their populations never reach overwhelming numbers.  Nature is amazing and everything can work so well if we let it.  But when human numbers rise, we just keep invading other places until we use up all the resources everywhere.  We're going to Mars now, for crying out loud!  It's just a matter of time before we kill off our host and die out ourselves.

But recent conversations in my class have me thinking of things from a different angle.

Maybe the problem isn't our invasiveness, but that we are too compassionate to allow people to just die the way those other, more callous animals do.  Because we have such big brains, and because we have mirror neurons that cause us to feel pain when we watch others suffer, we have found ways to help millions of people survive during famines.  And we can help sickly infants survive that wouldn't have stood a chance 20 years ago.  And we can keep elderly people going for a few more decades.  It's awesome!  Except now we're at seven billion people which might be too much for the earth to sustain.