Allium in a North Texas butterfly garden, April 6, 2019.
Allium in a North Texas butterfly garden, April 6, 2019.
On April 1, 2019, my wife and I traveled to one of our favorite get away spots, Big Bend National Park, for a three day stay in the Chisos Mountains.
Our SUV has been well maintained, but it’s 16 years old with over 350,000 miles, and on a short, morning drive in the park on the second day of our trip, our car’s radiator began to leak . We took it to the only gas station in the park, purchased antifreeze, put some of the liquid in the radiator, and headed back to our hotel room.
The nearest, reliable service option was over 200 miles away, but when we prayed I heard a reassuring answer, “I’ll get you home,” and every time I woke that night and prayed, I heard the same answer, “I’ll get you home.”
Early Wednesday morning we started our trip back home to North Texas and made it to a dealership in Odessa, TX. When it was time for the mechanic to work on the SUV, the mechanic and I walked to the service area to examine the damage. He showed me the crack in the radiator, and I informed him that we had just come from Big Bend National Park. He thought I said that we planned to go to Big Bend National Park with the SUV in this condition, and he quickly turned to face me and politely, but emphatically, said, “Oh, no, you’ll never make it there with this radiator!”
And I smiled as I recalled an answer to prayer, “I’ll get you home.”
A few hours later we were on the road with a brand new radiator and a promise that would be fulfilled later that evening when we arrived home safe and sound.
After all the curricula are presented, what is our best hope for our students who graduate from Texas’s K-12 public schools?
Let’s use the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as an official and formal source for an answer. The TEA’s most recent strategic plan states that it wants “Every child [to be] prepared for success in college, a career or the military.”
Parents want to see their children and communities want their citizens successful at college, or in a career or the military.
But is there more to life than success in those three paths?
If the answer is “no, there is no more to life than being successful at college, a career, or in the military,” then public education is all it can and should be.
If there answer is “yes, there is more to life than success in those three life choices,” then something is missing from Texas K-12 public education.
What is that something? That something, and it may be more, but it is at least, the big questions of life, such as:
The questions could go on, but the point is this: There is more to life than what the Texas K-12 Public School curricula covers and to what our students are exposed.
Whether this omission is right or wrong, whether the big questions should or should not be in the state’s curricula, in today’s political climate, the big questions and their answers will never be taught.
Some humor: Should the state then insist upon a disclaimer to be placed in the curricula handbooks of all districts that reads, “We teach and teach well a lot of important things, but we do not teach the most important things about life. In fact, legally we cannot even mention them, this is the best we can do … but there is more to life than what we teach. To find out more, don’t ask us, you are on your own. Best wishes.”
The humor and absurdity of such a disclaimer points to a seriousness, a seriousness that leads to a question: What are the consequences of generations of students not exposed to the big questions of life?
Note 1: In Texas high school economics an emphasis is placed on the “Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits.” Absent from the curricula are the inherent shortcomings, historical realities, and evils of socialism and communism, and in a recent Gallup poll, “Americans aged 18 to 29 are as positive about socialism (51%) as they are about capitalism (45%).” [Note: Granted, it’s not correct to say or suggest that the relationship is causal, but it is a worthy subject for further research.]
Note 2: Dr. John Lennox, fluent in several languages, including Russian, is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford; Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College; and Associate Fellow of Said Business School.
Dr. Lennox, in his book, “Can Science Explain Every Thing?”, recites a story that highlights the seriousness of omissions in curricula. It took place in Russia.
However backward the technological infrastructure was in those days of communist rule, some of Russia’s mathematicians were world leaders, and it was a privilege to meet with them and spend time with the faculty and students. But they were utterly perplexed by one thing: that I believed in God.
I was eventually invited by the rector of the university to explain why I, as a mathematician, believed in God. Apparently, it was the first lecture on this kind of issue to be held there in 75 years. The auditorium was full to capacity with many professors as well was students. In my presentation, among other things, I spoke about the history of modern science and related how its great pioneers – Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, and Clerk-Maxwell – were all firm and convinced believers in God.
When I said this, I detected anger in the audience and, not liking people being angry in my lectures, I paused to ask them why they so annoyed. A professor in the front row said, “We are angry because this is the first time we have heard that these famous scientists on whose shoulders we stand were believers in God. Why were we not told this?”
Democrats More Positive About Socialism Than Capitalism (Politics August 13, 2018)https://news.gallup.com/poll/240725/democrats-positive-socialism-capitalism.aspx
I was invited by the founder of BESTWA, Andy Perkins, to join him on a trip to Liberia to take photographs and analyze an aspect of the Liberian education system for a two week period in February 2016.
I was honored by the invitation and gratefully accepted.
BESTWA (Building Everyones Success Together in West Africa) is a non-profit NGO that feeds nearly 1,000 children in Buchanan, Grand Bassa, Libera, Monday through Friday, fifty-two weeks a year. The organization also provides education scholarships to nearly half of the children it feeds.
These children, not a part of the BESTWA program, are walking to school on a typical, Buchanan dirt road, wearing school uniforms, with limited supplies and materials, and smiles.
The Earth spins on its axis at approximately 1,000 miles per hour (mph). The Earth orbits around the sun at 67,000 mph. The Milky Way (see photo … but what is in the photo is less than .000003% of our galaxy) travels through the universe at the rate of 1.3 million mph … truly our time is spent traveling!
When one views the Milky Way, as from this Texas (USA) setting, only .000003% of our galaxy is visible to the naked eye. Yet, it is enough celestial beauty to bring to mind Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”