École Enamoured Ecology Ethics

[UPDATE: 14/6 – UK school curriculum reviewers say science lessons in climate change “should go”. Will Sweden’s Skolverket follow … and cut out other “Green issues” too? ]

Studious Students,

It has not escaped my notice (to paraphrase Watson & Crick) that the newly instigated and now printed Swedish Primary and Lower Secondary School Curriculum 2011 (Lgr 11) seems to be overtly fond of the political movement of environmentalism. 


Here are some new requirements for Year 9 students to get a Grade A in Biology:

“The students should be able to investigate the influence of different factors on ecosystems and populations and describe complex ecological relationships and explain and generalise about energy flows and systems. Furthermore the students should have well developed and well based arguments about how humans influence nature and show from different perspectives the advantages and limitations of some actions which can contribute to ecological sustainable development.”

Question: Is it ethical to require teachers to encourage students to lie … to be parsimonious with the truth … to get good grades? You see, the scientific basis for environmentalism and ecosystems appears to be … (how should I put it) … missing. Here, for example, are 2 recent articles, from opposite ends of the political and scientific spectrum, that apparently agree about the dubious basis of the “balanced ecosystem” concept:

1988 Arizona Biosphere 2 failled to build, even with millions of dollars, a balanced ecosystem

How the ‘ecosystem’ myth has been used for sinister means
When, in the 1920s, a botanist and a field marshal dreamed up rival theories of nature and society, no one could have guessed their ideas would influence the worldview of 70s hippies and 21st-century protest movements. But their faith in self-regulating systems has a sinister history. Tansley admitted he had no real evidence for this. And what he was really doing was taking an engineering concept of systems and networks and projecting it on to the natural world, turning nature into a machine. But the idea, and the term “ecosystem”, stuck.
” … in 1926 when Smuts created his own philosophy. He called it Holism. It said that the world was composed of lots of “wholes” – the small wholes all evolving and fitting together into larger wholes until they all came together into one big whole – a giant natural system that would find its own stability if all the wholes were in the right places.” 

A Brief History of Ecology
” … the idea of a ‘balance’ proved to be more politically useful, especially in an atmosphere of political disillusionment. The claim that there exists a ‘balance’ means that environmentalists don’t have to work so hard to demonstrate anything: they just have to suggest that the ‘system’ is changing, and the precepts of balance and interconnectedness did the rest.”

There are many similarities between the 1910s worldwide Eugenics movement and the 2010s Environmentalist movement. Swedish teachers I’ve met are aware of these grey chapters in human history and are interpereting the new Swedish Lgr 11 school curriculum accordingly. Good!  🙂  

Another gripe about Lgr 11. Remember this catchy little sentence (ideologically?) inserted into our new Lgr 11 curriculum?:
“Schools have a responsibility to oppose traditional gender roles.”  

Well, it looks like the Canadians are one step in front of the new Swedish Primary and High School Curriculum:

Parents keep child’s gender secret

Storm in red, gets a cuddle from older brother Jazz. Kathy Witterick, 38 and David Stocker, 39 are raising their four month old child, Storm, to be genderless.

When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place?).”

[UPDATE: We Swedes did it first! 🙂   ]

Or read a more critical thinking viewpoint on “Genderless Education”

Is Storm a boy or girl?

Parents Raising Child As ‘It’

“Witterick and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females.” The key word is believe. Belief and truth are often enemies, as they will be when Jazz, Kio, and Storm begin to grow pimples and hair in strange places.

The article quotes Diane Ehrensaft, “a California-based psychologist” (California, finally!), who said that 70s parents “experimented by giving dolls to boys and trucks to girls.”

It only worked up to a certain extent. Some girls never played with the trucks, some boys weren’t interested in ballet … It was a humbling experiment for us because we learned we don’t have the control that we thought we did.

And we musn’t forget that all other animals, not just humans, are unable to avoid “gender” roles for their offspring. We are all stuck with biological sex

It seems to me that “the offending sentence” in Lgr 11 may have been inserted by people still living within 1970s Californian ideology. Or maybe I’m missing something?
Speaking of ethics …  A great book for summer, and maybe a way to expand the brain, on the sailing boat of course 🙂 and a way of explaining some of the “ethics” in Lgr 11. 

The eminent “neurophilosopher” Patricia Churchland, in her new book “Braintrust,” sets out to understand good rather than evil … She, too, finds that morality is all about empathy

Prof. Churchland is also “biological” about morality, seeing it as an adaptation that our brains have evolved in order to cement social ties … “Morality seems to me to be a natural phenomenon,” she concludes, “constrained by the forces of natural selection, rooted in neurobiology, shaped by the local ecology and modified by cultural developments.”

Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality

“We are going to have to get used to the idea that science will tell us things about the biological causes of our moral sense that themselves have moral implications…the more we find out about the evolutionary origin of our intuitions, says Prof. Churchland, the less promising they look as “miraculous channels to the truth,” rather than as rules of thumb chosen by natural selection to achieve certain social goals. Admitting that morality is partly an instinct need not lead to less morality. It could make us wiser about encouraging good. “

Sounds good and ethical!

Questionable Brady  🙂

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3 Responses to École Enamoured Ecology Ethics

  1. Thanks for the post.

    The books, “Brave New World” and “1984”, immediately come to mind.

    We seem to have been blessed with an old curse, “May you live in interesting times!”

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  2. Carl-Fredrik NB says:

    Thanks for another great post =P
    Althought I read it long after it was written…
    Real good!
    By the way…Oliver K. Manuel…
    Was the moonlanding really a big hoax?

  3. On this 235th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, may I quote from the document

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

    “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”


    The next 235 years may be better yet, if we can convince politicians and world leaders that they are far less powerful than the forces of Nature !

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