Bill Nye spouts off about “core curriculum.”  He says if he were king he would make sure math and science are in the core.

Ok… has he not been paying attention?  Even before Common Core all 50 states had math standards and science standards.  He also points out that science must be introduced in elementary school, not high school.  I know when I was growing up my first actual science class was in 5th grade.  I don’t disagree with him in principle here.  What I find ironic is that most homeschoolers, whom it seems he is addressing in this video, probably start teaching science at an earlier age than public schools do, a fact that is probably lost on him.

Not that he would consider what a lot of homeschoolers teach science, but more on that in a second.

He boils the criticism of standards (I’m still not clear if he is talking about Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards or just standards in general here) to two points.  Only two?  He’s talking to hear himself talk because it’s quite obvious he’s not been following this issue.

One common criticism he says is that it “keeps teachers from having time to do other stuff that they are good at.  It takes away from other things that a teacher brings to the party.”

Yes Common Core, especially linked with high-stakes testing, hampers teachers, I believe.  I’m glad he sees this as a problem even if he is oblivious about the other problems Common Core represents.

The second “criticism” he mentions is “invalid.”

Nye states…

But the other reason people seem to be, my perception of what people don’t like about core curricula is that it forces them to learn standard stuff when they could be teaching their kids things that are inconsistent with what we know about science. I’m talking about people that want to teach creationism instead of biology. And that’s just bad. And the excuse or the justification is you don’t want the government telling you what to do. We all have to learn the alphabet everybody. I’m sorry, if we’re we’re going to have a successful society, it’s not an arbitrary arrangement of letters, you got to learn it. Sorry. And the same way if you’re asking me everybody’s got to learn a little bit of physics, chemistry, mathematics and you got to learn some evolution. You got to learn some biology.

I mean the idea is obvious right? You have a certain minimum that everybody’s got to meet. What? Everybody’s got to learn the alphabet. Everybody’s got to learn to read. The U.S. Constitution is written in English so everybody’s got to learn to read English. It would be great if you learned some tonal languages, some romance language that would be good, but our laws are written in English. Everybody’s got to learn to read English. Everybody’s got to learn math. Everybody’s got to learn some algebra. Everybody’s got to learn some biology including evolution. So what’s not to love? But I know there are people opposed to that.

A couple of thoughts.

If I were a Common Core advocate I’d cringe over this defense.  His interchangeable use of standards and curricula (yes I’m aware that the former impacts the later) would absolutely frustrate advocates if I were to use this terminology.  I’d probably be called out on it as well.

Then as a Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards opponent I am, frankly, too amused by this “perception” of “core curricula/standards” criticism to be offended.

I mean who is he talking about?

I have never heard a parent criticize that they didn’t want their kids learning “standard stuff.”  Secondly I’m not sure exactly what he’s suggesting here because state standards are mandatory for schools to teach, not parents and homeschoolers.  Being the statist that he is I’m sure he has zero problem with the government telling parents what to teach their kids because that is what he suggests standards should do.

Items included in “standard stuff” can be debated.  Those who teach creationism also teach biology in addition to it.  Biology encompasses more than origins questions.  Those parents, and I emphasize parents here because creationism or intelligent design is not taught in the vast majority of schools, want their kids to learn about science.  Homeschooling parents teach their kids about a variety of topics that biology encompasses.  Most “creationists” would even agree with Nye on micro-evolution.  I would suspect that a good number of homeschoolers teach their kids about evolution, but discuss why they disagree with the theory.

By the way, that’s actually encouraging kids to use critical thinking, which is not encouraged when it comes to this subject in the public schools.

Also when it comes to “standard stuff” the theory of evolution should be far down on the list of topics kids need to know.  Even students entering in STEM fields could function without it.  Are we to really believe that a biochemist wouldn’t be able to do their job if they held to an alternate theory of our origins?  How has evolution sharpened Nye’s ability to be a mechanical engineer?

Nye doesn’t state it in this video, but the title of video given by Big Think is telling as to what they think standards will do.  They ask, “Could Common Core be the antidote for Creationist teachers?”

They to show an ignorance about Common Core, but to answer their question.  No, but it is pretty clear that some progressives would love for them to fill that role.

Here’s the video:

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