A perplexed homeschool mom contacted me. She was looking for advice regarding prerequisites for her senior’s dual enrollment government course at a community college. They had a requirement that biology had to be completed before government. He had planned to enroll concurrently and she could not understand the thinking behind this prerequisite.
Because I had majored in biology, I knew exactly what their reasoning was.
Many people think the primary objective of biology courses is to teach students how to classify and study the diverse life forms found in the natural world, hence the term “natural science”.
I majored in biology because I wanted to save the world. I can really relate to today’s youth who have been scared to death by being taught that human-caused climate change will end life as we know it in ten years if we don’t stop it. The “end of life as we know it in ten years if we don’t take drastic action” mentality has been around for a long time.
My high school biology teacher in the 70s laid out the scary scenario to me from Paul Erlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb, that overpopulation would destroy the world in the very near future. Earliest printings of the book contained predictions that millions would die in the 70s from worldwide famines, and that it was probably too late to correct the problem.
Was my generation successful in saving the world? Well, we’re all still here, although it had nothing to do with what I learned in my biology courses at Oklahoma State University. It had a lot more to do with what they learned down the street in agricultural economics about increasing crop yields and petroleum engineering about making cheap energy available and plentiful. These are concepts I never understood until I taught my homeschooled kids economics and read through Clarence Carson’s Basic Economics textbook. Sadly, academia has spread their ten-year doom to those fields of study now as well.
There has always been a category of teaching within biology that has sought to develop activists. I saw one example of it when a question on a college ecology course’s final exam asked which examples to use to make a point if called to give congressional testimony. It was one fourth of the grade on the final.
As activism has become a more and more accepted path in life, and can even lead to lucrative research grants, this strain of teaching has grown louder and more pervasive. Freshman biology is now a place to teach the how to’s of effective activism. If students are convinced that life as we know it will be wiped out in ten years, it would be be a highly sought after skill to understand how to lobby government for activist pet projects. What better way to motivate students to want to learn what makes government tick? It lays the ground for teaching that government is the tool to use to solve life’s biggest problems.
There is a better way. There are two very general views on the purpose of government—a progressive view that seeks a governmental solution for every problem, and a limited government view that seeks to allow individuals to make their own choices as much as possible. U.S. history is a story of how different leaders have been guided by one or the other. It is an intriguing tale of the growth of government, and how many have enriched themselves from that growth and imposed the costs on all of us.
Understanding the big picture is worth the effort involved in the study. If we are to continue to move toward a “more perfect union,” the next generation better learn whatever they can from all the experience our rich heritage has to offer. Ignoring it will have a heavy price tag.
Boundary Stone’s American government and economics courses equip students for this battle for their hearts and minds. These self-paced courses teach the lessons our country’s history offers and they provide teachers with the big questions that lead to meaningful discussions. Samples from the textbooks, courses, and online courses are available at boundarystone.org/courses.