Monday, March 29, 2010

There Is Life Outside Of Football

      It’s time for my annual rant about the condition of science non-students at my alma mater. This happens whenever the winners of the North Museum and Science Fair are announced. At least it starts that way, although it expands a bit by the time I get to the end. Stay with me.
      If this were about football, it would be a glowing review. Since 1992, Manheim Central’s record is been 215 and 29 – not too bad. A football scholarship to Penn State is considered a very successful high school career.
      But it’s not about football.
      I counted winners from 16 Lancaster County Schools at this year’s science fair. How many were there from Manheim Central? None, nada, nil, zilch, goose egg! Same as last year! I don’t think they even had anyone entered!
      I have spoken to several of my classmates and other alumni about this lack, and what do I get? “Well, you need an inspiring teacher to get the kids excited about science.”
      Well, why don’t they get one? Can’t afford it? Find a good one and offer him or her the same salary the football coach gets!
      Another excuse I’ve heard: The parents prefer sports. Sadly, that’s true, but I am sure that if some kids came home all excited about their latest science projects, any reasonable parents would at least be supportive. Although I could be wrong, I don’t believe Manheim parents would downplay scientific enthusiasm any more than the parents of the kids from the 16 other schools who produced winners.
      On March 13, the annual awards dinner was held in Washington, D.C. for the winners in the annual Intel Science Project and Talent Competition. Scholarships and Awards to these high school students total $1.25 million.
      Of the top 40 winners, 27 had Asian names. I do not believe that these kids are any smarter than their classmates who come from a Caucasian background. Nor did they have better teachers. But they did have one powerful edge: their parents.
      The small city in which I lived in California has a beautiful library, and it is open seven days a week. Saturdays and Sundays the library is crowded with kids, and 90% of them are of Asian background. They and their parents seem to have found what we have lost – curiosity and enthusiasm.
      Fortunately, all the kids who won the Intel competition are Americans. If their counterparts back in China and India are working as hard as they are, we are in deep trouble.
      Getting back to Manheim, I hope their science curriculum is just going through a temporary dry spell. Science is exciting! May it also be contagious.
      Imagine a site on which a new home is scheduled to be built. Materials and supplies have been delivered and are awaiting the arrival of the construction crew. There are stacks of lumber, piles of bricks, . . . everything that will go into the new construction.
      A contractor agrees to complete the building. He hires carpenters, bricklayers, . . . and any other subcontractors he needs, and eventually the building is completed.
      A new entity, a house, has been introduced into the universe. The collection of materials and supplies has been given a new structure. They would have lain there forever unless some outside creative action, supplied by the contractor and his crew, occurred that transcended and transformed them.
      Introduction – The Spirit Runs Through It

To read more excerpts from book, click here.

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