A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again. — Alexander Pope


A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot. — attributed to Albert Einstein (though I can’t seem to turn up an actual source)

Since when are “experts” enemies, and knowing something about a subject considered bad? The blatantly anti-education comments from the Tennessee House are continuing to boggle my mind (link is to Religion Dispatches; if you aren’t already reading that blog, you should be!). I already noted one representative’s unsourced–and probably apocryphal–Einstein quote. Misappropriating scientists’ words and images to support Creationist causes is nothing new, of course; see also the false story that Darwin “recanted” evolution on his deathbed.

I hope the Tennessee law, if it is passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, will not pass muster in the courts, which have made it clear that they will not tolerate undermining the wall of separation when it comes to education. In the current anti-education climate in this country, though, my hope may be misplaced. Chris Hedges outlines the undermining of teachers’ ability to actually educate their students in chilling detail and the resultant near-destruction of meaningful public education.

Speaking as an “expert” in science, I would hope I know a little bit about what should be taught—and when to defer to others’ expertise. By saying teachers and experts are people to fight against and undermine, lawmakers are working to destroy much of value in our country–and we risk losing whole generations of students, who will be unable to manage with the laughable set of “skills” that are taught to pass standardized tests. We cannot continue to let this happen.


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