x This page has been updated to be used in both Environmental Biology and General Biology



College for All?
Critical Thinking about the Status of Education


Blackboard Class Discussion

Education related articles for the "Educational Readings Project" about the
status of education.

The cartoon is used for educational purposes by Dr. Nilsson, South Texas College, scanned, from The Monitor, McAllen.

x Philosophy Statement: We are on the brink of destroying our planet by global climate change caused by greedy, materialistic, self-indulgent, and "anything goes" human behavior, and I claim that the main reason for this behavior is an ever-increasing poorly educated superstitious faith based human mindset -- not understanding how the real world works -- allowed to vote, rule and control interaction with the planet. Dr. Jan A. Nilsson


Hard to read? It was made small on purpose.
Click on the link.
You might want to read the comments done by reader (scroll down on the page),
or you might want to click on the live links on the page...

Click to read article!

Click to read article!

The Monitor, March 16, 2010. 1B.

Click to read article!

Click to read article!


x Blueprint for Change: Education
(President Barack Obama's pre-election Education speech)

Academic Freedom: Liberty to pursue and teach relevant knowledge and to discuss it freely without restriction from school or public officials or from other sources of influence.

Reading about education

This page is the introduction to the "Educational Readings", a critical thinking Blackboard class discussion about the status of education in the world. The page has been updated to be used -- for classes taught by Dr. Nilsson -- in both Environmental Biology and General Biology.

As the topic indicates -- "educational readings" -- reading news articles and viewing YouTube videos posted on this page. Followed by thinking about the topic CRITICALLY and come up with something to say.


Goal of the discussion

We cannot have it both ways

In addition to thinking about education in general, we are going to link two of the interesting and important biology topics from the other class discussions to this education discussion -- global warming and evolution. Opinion polls show that each of topics both have Americans divided into two conflicting groups, one group accepting and one denying that global warming and/or evolution is real. Since it cannot be both ways we have a SERIOUS PROBLEM. The group members may not be the same for both groups, but there are major overlaps, and group membership clearly is related to both education (or lack thererof) and religious faith (or lack thereof). We will in the bulletin boards established for this discussion try to ponder the questions to see if we can establish which -- if any -- opinions are based on a quality education.

But first, do YOU have a map at home?

School is important. I know it to be a drag and all that, but if there are any kids watching right now -- first of all go to sleep, but when you do go to school -- you are there already, you should study hard and LEARN, so you don't end up like this [like Miss Teen U.S.A -- South Carolina]. Jimmy Kimmel.

x Miss Teen USA 2007 - South Carolina answers the question why Americans cannot locate the USA on a world map.

Uhhh...what did she just say?? Miss Teen South Carolina 2007. Miss Teen South Carolina 2007 with Subtitles.

Jimmy Kimmel Explains what Miss Teen said. Parents of Miss Teen South Carolina.

Cartoon used for educational purposes Wiley Miller

Academic Freedom: Liberty to pursue and teach relevant knowledge and to discuss it freely without restriction from school or public officials or from other sources of influence.
Education in trouble?

As you probably have heard already, education is in trouble in this country, and the Rio Grande Valley is no exception. Not all students have received a poor quality education, but many students don't think learning is important, and they have the misconception that after going through a mediocre and non-challenging high school education, a college education also is going to be mediocre and non-challenging (read easy). Here is a link to an interesting article in the Monitor (February, 2006).

Statement on diminishing academic standards in the United States

As you can see if you read the article mentioned, a college education is not mediocre and not non-challenging, "50 percent of community college students nationwide often do not return for a second year of classes", and it isn't because they think their classes are too easy. The article informs, "nearly 80 percent of Hidalgo and Starr county students are unprepared to handle college work". This means that "jobs meant for present and future Valley workers could go overseas, to e.g., India and China, if more college and work-ready students" are not available. Companies owned by Americans do not want to hire poorly educated goof balls, so they "outsource" looking for better-educated workers in these countries, where the salary levels also are lower!
When addressing the problem with poor quality education, Norman Mailer, author of the book "The Big Empty" states that 52 percent of the American people are uneducated and stupid, and that "the Bush administration holds great faith in the stupidity of the American people" so that they can push their agenda and worldview...
In another article (February, 2006), Chris Ardis, local teacher and columnist in the Monitor, states that it "is obvious that there is much work to be done" to better the quality of education in the United States. Lack of education is a serious problem in many aspects; one is because the quality of education is better in other countries. If nothing is done, the status of the United States as a democracy and as a leading country of the world is at stake. Dr. Reed, president of STC, states (see Ardis' article) that if "we in the Rio Grande Valley as well as the rest of the nation are to retain our competitive edge in the global economy, graduation from high school must truly mean ready for college" and we must "address the challenges before us and in ways we have never done before". Many of the rich in this country don't care, as mentioned by Norman Mailer, and are responsible for outsourcing of jobs. As long as the percentage of uneducated Americans remains high, nothing will change except the rich will get even richer.

Below is an article written many years ago by a professor at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Dr. Kurt Wiesenfeld, click on the smaller version of the article below or the typed copy posted here. Have things changed?


The world in trouble?

x As the world's population keeps growing, the pressures increase to educate the growing masses to improve peoples knowledge about how world works (how the REAL world functions biologically and geologically), in order to be able do something about the escalating environmental problems caused by increasing pressure on the natural environment.

x x Knowledge about the real world? Hmmm!!!??? As the poster of the video below said: "Great minds that have fought to bring wisdom to the people, and their descendants still live in ignorance." To continue the Miss Teen USA thread, below is a YouTube video from a French version of "Who wants to be a millionaire".

x Who wants to be Miss South Carolina? (alternative title "La Lune")

x "Is Miss South Carolina smarter than 'Who wants to be a millionaire' contestant? On the "Who wants to be a millionaire" question, "What revolves around The Earth", 56% of the French audience answered "The Sun". This contestant wasn't sure at first, and he almost used second lifeline to that, fifty-fifty. IMHO, he should have called Miss South Carolina, she would probably know that. Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) was the first to discover that the earth rotated on its axis once daily and traveled around the sun once yearly. For that statemant, his follower Giordano Bruno was faced the Roman Inquisition trial court, and burned alive on 1600 in Campo de' Fiori. Great minds that have fought to bring wisdom to the people, and their descendants still live in ignorance."



x Spelling correctly is part of a good education If you cannot or will not spell correctly -- unless you have a writing disability -- you are POORLY EDUCATED. Not being able to write correctly, or having the ATTITUDE that you don't have to write correctly, is an opinion of someone that is poorly educated. (Click on the article below to read Chris Ardis' opinion.) Look at the spelling bee video below. I hope the little guys attitude towards learning never change!!!


x Funny spelling bee

STC statistics

As evidence of mediocre and non-challenging high school education, Dr. Reed, president of STC, presented the following statistics during faculty convocation, in August, 2005. These are the statistics for former Rio Grande Valley high school students enrolled at STC. The numbers are now "old" and the statistics need to be updated, but nothing has changed, the trend is similar today...

STC Graduation rates:
1997 17%
1998 8%
1999 10%
2000 12%
2001 15%

Students with letter grades A, B, or C:
2000 64% -- (=36% D, F, or W)
2001 68% -- (=32% D, F, or W)
2002 69% -- (=31% D, F, or W)
2003 70% -- (=30% D, F, or W)
2004 71% -- (=29% D, F, or W)

Recent High School Graduates passing THEA:
Writing 64% (36% failing)
Reading 62% (=38% failing)
Math 47% (=53% failing)
Students passing all three: 11% (=89% failing one or more of the tests)

Transfer to UTPA: 96%
1994 13%
2000 20%
2001 23%
2002 25%
2003 36%

Employment after graduation: 96%

As can be seen from the statistics, there is a positive trend -- it is getting better. Also encouraging, of the students who graduate and look for jobs after graduation, 96% will find employment! That is good news. However, if only about 10% graduate, then there will not be enough skilled, educated workers in the Valley to attract new companies or to retain the present companies. As stated in the Ardis article by a business owner who paid taxes in the Valley -- which in part pay for the education of local students: "You don't mind paying taxes but you want return on your investment." Students not taking their education serious are not a good investment. If Valley schools do not provide a skilled and educated workforce, the jobs will go to other countries.

Dr. Reed's minimum requirement list for college students

According to Dr. Reed, there are certain minimum requirements, which must be asked of college students, -- many students ignore these requirements:

1. Students must understand and must accept responsibility as a student.
2. Students must be prepared and must participate in the class.
3. Students must have a textbook.
4. Students must take an appropriate course load.

College for All?

College for all?

Some students think college should be easy (because high school was). Perhaps you have heard the expression "college for all". Some have misunderstood the expression and think that it means college that should be easy so that "all" can get a degree. Incorrect! It means that "all" should have a chance to "earn" a degree, not just the rich and privileged. But grades are not given by the teacher, grades are EARNED by the student, and/or if you are not willing to work hard or if you are not smart enough (or have not learned anything in previous schooling), then perhaps college is not for you...

From an Environmental Biology student in a class where most students aspire to become elementary teachers:
Although, I am not a teacher yet, I have had many experiences with peers who do NOT listen and also disturb others who want to listen. I would like to confide in you that what worries me more is that in this class there "may" be future teachers and that is a concern for me, since, I have a 3 year old who one day might be my peers' student.

x Miss Teen South Carolina video "lack of education" frenzy

Re: Miss Teen USA 2007 - South Carolina answers a question. Miss Teen USA 2007 - South Carolina Answers A Question (Animated Interpretation)



Primates or Adam & Eve?


x Now let's link the EDUCATION DISCUSSION to "evolution". We will only mention the topic briefly here on this page, since it is already such an important part of the General Biology textbook, and in Environmental Biology -- as taught by Dr. Nilsson -- it forms an integral part of the course in the reading assignments and the extra course shell called the Town Hall.

Special to the Monitor. 2009. Religious school suing Texas College Board. The Monitor (April 21): 1B.


Sunday school pretending to be a college wishes to offer Masters Degree.

The cartoon dated 1927 -1938 is used for educational purposes by Dr. Nilsson, South Texas College, reposted here, from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/sts/cain/projects/ejn/ejn_comics/. For further source information and fair use statement see bottom of page.

Challenge Apple from your Biology Instructor: Is is lack of quality science/biology education to NOT understand that we have evolved and that we have common ancestry with the chimpanzee, or are scientists/biologists who think that we evolved just poorly educated and misinformed, since they think that we did NOT originate with Adam and Eve?

Clarification of the question: There cannot be an "in between" for this topic, and you cannot have it both ways. Which one is it?

We either are primates -- or -- humankind originated with Adam and Eve!

Global Warming Religion?




x Is it that terrifying to accept that we have common ancestry with the apes? We do look like apes, do we not -- unless of course you think you have the face of a cockroach? Now let's link the EDUCATION DISCUSSION to "global warming".

x If you Google "Global Warming and Religion" (I got 5,150,000 hits), you will note that there are many web sites denying Global Warming and talking about it as if it is a RELIGION for scientists. Hmmm!!!??? So, when people pray to tree stumps and invisible spirits -- then it is a "good" RELIGION, but when scientist warn about global warming -- then it is a "bad" RELIGION? Perhaps this is God's second flood? Anyone volunteer to be Noah?

x Religion has two meanings.

x def. Religion: 1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe (see the video below). 2. An objective pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

x At least one student asks me every semester if I am religious (in the first sense of the word). I hope it has become very clear for you all that I am not -- if not I need to express my opinion better in the Class Discussions. x But am I religious in the second meaning of the word? The answer again is NO. I am a college instructor and scientist (biologist) and I teach students about the REAL world. That is my duty. Maybe the method I use is unusual, but it is clearly working to help open the mind of most students (all?), so they can learn and become EDUCATED about what is the REAL WORLD. It is important to learn about the real world, because we live in the real world. But then, we have discovered that there are people in this world who don't think history is important, so there are probably people in this world who thinks knowledge about the world is unimportant. You know, the kind that think that the best thing in life is to burp loudly after drinking beer... (Oh, darn now burping people will come after me with flags to burn. Clarification for geography illiterate students: The red flag with a white cross in the photos below is the Danish flag. Why these pictures are here, see Michelle Malkin's commentary -- if you are interested.)

Show support for Denmark. Buy Danish cheese! x

x We are destroying this planet, and in Muslim countries people get upset about cartoons! In the same country upset about cartoons a teenager who was gang raped is punished by her country's court system for being raped. In a Catholic country, religion favors punishing a 9-year old girl for getting a life saving abortion? Something is seriously wrong here -- there are just to many uneducated (DUMB) people on this planet. Is it any wonder that our planet is mistreated if we as humans mistreat each other, and considered it OK to punish a 19-year old teenager for being raped by 6 men, or punish a 9-year old girl for getting a life saving abortion after being raped by her stepfather? It sounds as if humankind is still living in the Middle Ages. Why don't we just paint our bodies blue (read the article below!) and have our heats cut out, like the Mayan's... x

To not alienate relatives or lead to bomb threats

Click on the article to read it!

x Did you read the article? What is your preference? In ancient times Mayans (Mexico) painted themselves blue and had their hearts cut out -- while still alive. In modern times (pick your religion) a woman is gang raped and the court sentence her to 200 lashes and six months in prison, or a stepfather rapes his 9-year stepdaughter and the church says, "So?" (Click on the article icon to read the article if you haven't already.)

x This interesting string related to the topic covered in the article was posted by students in one of the evolution discussion in environmental biology some semesters ago:

x Subject: Re:Adam and Eve
Topic: Discussion String 2: Adam and Eve
Author: Student 1
Date: March 25, 2009 11:18 PM
I am surprised that there are alot of people trusting in what the Catholic church says. After all they have executed many innocent people all in the name of God.

x Subject: Re:Adam and Eve
Topic: Discussion String 2: Adam and Eve
Author: Student 2
Date: March 27, 2009 7:22 PM
Forget that they execute people, what is troubling is the many cases of child abuse!? And you call that religion?

x Subject: Re:Adam and Eve
Topic: Discussion String 2: Adam and Eve
Author: Student 1
Date: March 28, 2009 12:19 AM
There should be tougher laws for Child Abuse.

x Subject: Re:Adam and Eve (I've got it!)
Topic: Discussion String 2: Adam and Eve
Author: Student 3
Date: March 28, 2009 5:35 AM
Well come on, it's human nature to be tempted. These church people are told that they cannot do certain things and it's only natural for them to hold the desires...unfortunately we hear of the incidences when they end up expressing them with young children in an attempt to manipulate an innocent child into not informing others of the behavior. I have two problems with this, well three considering that the action is just plain wrong, but, number 1-if they believe in Adam and Eve (which I'm sure they do), are they not in turn commiting the sin which their beliefs say is the initial sin for which people suffer or Jesus dies or whatever the sin stands for?...and secondly, How can they ever fullfill their hierarchy of needs, because love is needed before you move up on the scale. Wait, I think I've got it...If you look up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Actualization (which is at the top of the pyramid) includes acceptance of facts...so, if you are not getting the love and intamacy which we as humans require at a lower level, you cannot move up the ladder and therefore have a harder time accepting facts (i.e.,Evolution)!

x The various kinds of religions that allow the horrible human mistreatments mentioned above, claim that a supernatural creature made the Earth just 6000 years ago. Do these religious followers believe that we don't have to worry about the planet because this supernatural creature will protect it for us. (Or is it perhaps FROM us?).


The "headline" above is a link -- did you click on it?

xx The only way to stop environmental destruction is to EDUCATE people. An educated person will use the open mind (the brain) to think critically. One thing people must be educated about is HUMANKINDS PLACE IN THIS WORLD. And we cannot understand that place unless we know where we came from, where we have our roots, how we evolved.

x "The theory is taken for granted by nearly every scientist working in the field. But because it is difficult to confirm experimentally, a few vocal skeptics continue to raise pointed questions. The skeptics find a ready audience among evangelical Christians, with groups like Focus on the Family saying that "significant disagreement exists within the scientific community regarding the validity of this theory."
(Andy Crouch. 2005. Environmental Wager: Why evangelicals are -- but shouldn't be -- cool toward global warming. Christianity Today.)

"I'm not talking about evolution. Or maybe I am."


For copyright reasons only the beginning of the article is posted. Click on the article icon to read the rest of the article.

Challenge Apple from your Biology Instructor: Is is lack of quality science/biology education to NOT understand that the climate is changing on this planet due to human activities, or are scientists/biologists who think that climate change is happening just poorly educated and misinformed?

Clarification of the question: We know something is happening, but are we absolutely sure what is causing it? Unlike the previous question about primates, is there perhaps room for some "in between" interpretations of the Global Warming question?

Or not?




So, what do you think?

Clearly something is not working; otherwise we would not have all this controversy about education, with articles in the newspapers and discussions on TV every day.


It may take some time to get an education, but knowledge is power. However, this is the 21st century, pen and paper is no longer the only educational tool, and to get a job after you graduate you also need to know how to use modern technology, and if you don't know that it might be time to wake up and smell the coffee...

Click on the article to read page 2...

To link this back to biology: Knowledge is power! Let's go flying in the real world...

If you haven't read all the articles posted on this page, I suggest you do that, and watch the videos -- especially the ones discussion education called "The Future of Teaching" (on top of this page) and the one called "The New Media Literacies" (above). If you want more to read click on the link below.


Dr. Nilsson

The cartoons on this page, and other pages on Dr. Nilsson's CyberOffice, are included to challenge the students to take their college education seriously and to make students understand that diminishing academic standards and increasing problems with grade inflation are major problems in the United States today. If you are a serious student read the cartoons and smile, if you are not a serious student read the cartoons and think...

The cartoon is used for educational purposes by Dr. Nilsson, South Texas College, scanned, from The Monitor, McAllen.

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, Jan A. Nilsson. Web page layout and design © and intellectual property Jan A. Nilsson. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited. Page created 10.V.2003, last updated 15.I.2009, most likely during the wee hours of the morning on a G3 PowerBook owned by Jan A. Nilsson.

The background image is from desktop nexus http://nature.desktopnexus.com/get/34064

-- Disclaimer: "Dr. Nilsson's CyberOffice", at the time of writing located as a file under the South Texas Community College's (STCC) web server with the general URL http://stcc.cc.tx.us/, is the intellectual property of Dr. Jan A. Nilsson, member of STCC biology faculty. The content of Dr. Nilsson's CyberOffice does not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of the STCC faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Trustees.