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Smart Is Cool: reading, math, and science education

"What should be done about the fact that American children lag behind kids in other countries in math and science?" is one of the questions posed in the July 7 issue of Time magazine, In their "10 Questions" feature they spoke with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium. He is an astrophysicist and the host of a PBS show, Nova Science Now.

He said, "We need to do something about the stigma. Somehow it's okay for people to chuckle about not being good at math. Yet if I said I never learned to read, they'd say I was illiterate dolt."

This is so true. Being uneducated is acceptable in the US. While I am a big advocate of music, physical education, and art programs and believe them to be core to a well-rounded education, the reality is that we aren't even doing a stellar job teaching the basics... reading, math, and science.

Speak to people who are well spoken and seem intelligent. Invariably, they are readers. The more avid of a reader they are, the more they present themselves with intelligence.

Math and science are "fundamental to what is to be alive", as Mr. Tyson put it in the article. That is so true. Even very basic mathematics and science are critical to our function as human beings.

I live in a community that seems to think "real folks" aren't educated and therefore shouldn't bother trying.

I hope I'm raising my children better. I have a saying... "never been ashamed to be the smartest person in the room." Where I grew up, the kids who "ruined the curve" in science class were considered geeks or dorks. They should have been rock stars!

Rather than the cheerleaders wearing football or basketball jerseys to show that they were dating the athletes, they should have been wearing the Honor Society pins and saying "that's right, I'm dating a brainiac!" The jocks should have been wearing them too!

I hope the teachers and parents who are reading this will practice this mantra with me... Smart Is Cool.


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