I became a science teacher because I very strongly believe in the importance of science.
So some people may find it strange that I shuddered in dismay when I read that the University of Guam has been awarded a $2.3 million grant to “help grow the number and diversity of students who are interested in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math fields.”
This is because I do not think this funding will really help anyone on Guam. The state of our public schools is the issue that needs funding and science is not the problem. I think most people would agree that our overcrowded schools are the cause of our overcrowded prison.
I think the state of Guam’s public schools reflects a community that lacks moral leadership. Our schools are basically commuter prisons where the most enforced rule is that all students must wear identical uniforms. This rule works against law and order because it makes it difficult to identify culprits from a distance and it sends a message that any person who dares to be different from the herd must be punished. These are not conducive to producing responsible citizens.
Is it any surprise our schools are plagued with bullying, rioting and poor academic achievement? Our children need moral leadership, not more science.
This is especially true at the University of Guam. Recently a professor of UOG was sentenced to six years in prison for sexually assaulting students. In the media, he is referred to merely as “a former professor”.
He was much more than that. He taught psychology at UOG for 22 years and two months. He was a department head and a close friend of several UOG presidents. He was a very important and powerful leader at UOG before his conviction for sex assaults.
The off-campus events where he assaulted students involved alcohol consumption. Because of this, I think UOG should take a strong stand against alcohol consumption.
In 2018, I strongly objected to alcohol consumption at student art exhibits and at Friday evening lectures at the Marine Lab.
I pointed out that signs on the campus explicitly stated that “Alcohol Consumption was not permitted on campus.” UOG responded to my public protests by removing these signs. Officially sanctioned alcohol consumption continues despite the fact that it violates official university policy and alcoholism is a huge problem on Guam.
So before we overemphasize science at our university, I think we should remember that Israeli educational psychologist Haim Ginott would often quote a letter written by a Holocaust survivor:
“I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education. My request is this: Help your children become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.”
So let us remember that some things are more important than science and let us start showing some moral leadership in our educational system.
Paul Zerzan is a resident of Barrigada