Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sputnik Half-Century

President Obama has decided that we are at a Sputnik Moment:

Mr. Obama, who made his remarks during a visit to a community college here, was not yet born when the Soviets’ launch of the Sputnik orbiter in 1957 shocked Americans and prompted a national commitment to education, space and science spending. “Fifty years later, our nation’s Sputnik moment is back,“ Mr. Obama said.

What does this really mean? Two thoughts:
  • First of all, it means that, for all of Obama's posturing about the future and hope, he's going back to the old playbook yet again. This is another call for government to order up a desired result and spend as much money as it can to make it happen. I don't think that's an especially novel approach.
  • The last "Sputnik Moment" began in 1957 and has lasted for over a half-century. We've been spending tremendous amounts of money on public education, including the sciences and mathematics, for at least that long. The problem is that we have a mismatch between the education establishment and the course material. But Obama and his party rely on the education establishment for political and financial support, so don't look for any changes that might actually help, like allowing talented scientists into the classroom without having to jump throught the licensure requirements of the education establishment.

1 comment:

Gino said...

talented scientists do enter the class room... at the college level, unforunately.
(thats what Brian does, among other things.)

i want to know he is smart and talented enough to teach actual science to actual scientists, but the schools wouldnt allow him to teach the basics to 9th graders????

(actually, i do know, but i want the schoold systems to be forced to answer)