Saturday, June 03, 2017

Boy! Talk about subversive


What could be more subversive than teaching kids the science that their potato-head parents don't believe? That is what at least one teacher in Idaho is doing, and doing it well.
Jakob Namson peered up at the towering ponderosa pine before him. He looked at his notebook, which was full of calculations scribbled in pencil. Then he looked back at the pine. If his math was right — and it nearly always is — then he would need to plant 36 trees just like this one to offset the 831 pounds of carbon dioxide that his drive to school emits each year.

Namson, 17, gazed around at his classmates, who were all examining their own pines in northern Idaho’s Farragut State Park. He considered the 76 people in this grove, the 49,000 people in his home town of Coeur d’Alene, the millions of people in America driving billions of miles a year — and approached his teacher, Jamie Esler, with a solemn look on his face.

“I think I’m beginning to understand the enormity of the problem,” the teenager said — a revelation that Esler later described as “one of the most inspirational moments of my entire career.”

The phrase “climate change” evokes deep skepticism in northern Idaho. Less than half of adults in Kootenai County believe that human activities contribute to global warming, surveys show. In February, the state legislature urged the state board of education to rewrite the science curriculum to eliminate what one lawmaker called “an over emphasis on human caused factors.”But here in Idaho, Esler has managed to nurture a growing cadre of budding environmentalists by eschewing politics and focusing on tangible changes in the natural landscape, changes that affect the crystalline water, the ancient trees, the once-abundant snow.

“Esler is kind of a genius,” said Annika Jacobson, 17. “He teaches things in a way that doesn’t mold your brain to his, so you almost don’t notice that you’re learning all these things. Until someone on the street says they don’t believe in climate change and then you’re like, ‘Wait a minute,’ and you have all these stats and graphs and factual things.”
Imagine that! Letting students use simple science to determine their own facts instead of relying on the likes of Limbaugh & Fux Nooz. It remains to be seen how soon it will take the potato-heads to organize a lynch mob and run Esler out of the state.

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