Extinction or Survival Term Paper

Pages: 9 (3413 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Teaching

Extinction or Survival

Implications for Education Reform

The Selfish Gene? (Marxist 2007)

Against Sociobiology (Bethell 2001)

Reform Math Education (Reys 2002)

Selfish Genes and Social Darwinism (Midgely 1981)

Sociobiology (Holcomb, Sociobiology 2005)

Memes: Marketing in the 21st Century (Meyerson 2007)

Third World Traveler -- Jonathan Kozol (Kozol 2007)

International Conference on Secondary Education (Mulford 2002)

Education Programs Constitutional; Growth Steady (CER 2007)

Early Education Shows No Benefit (HSLDA 2007)

Dawkins' Arguments for the Selfish Gene

The Concept of "Meme" and Kozol's Concerns about Education

Cultural Evolution through Meme Changes in order to Reform Education

What Cultural Changes Need to Take Place to Reform Education?




This paper reviews Dawkins' concept of the "meme," sociobiology, and its relationship to education reform. The paper is ordered as follows: first a review of ten articles about sociobiology and education reform, then an answer to the following four questie to the inequalities in educational resources described by Kozol?

3. To what extent do the educational reform plans from your Web sites require cultural evolution through meme selection as described by Dawkins?

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4. What kinds of cultural value changes would have to occur if this evolution of value memes is to take place?

Literature Review

The Selfish Gene? (Marxist 2007)

TOPIC: Term Paper on Extinction or Survival Assignment

One can term this article the Marxist interpretation of genetic engineering. The primary concern expressed by the article is that, in the hands of "monopolies," genetic manipulation could be quite dangerous. Capitalism, per se, is not a question of genetics; it has only been around for 200 years out of the 5,000 years or so of written human history. The authors therefore argue that, regardless of the effect of genetics on sociobiology, the natural state of human society is, by its nature, communitarian. The other lesson drawn in this interpretation is that the genetic predisposition to lie and cheat must lie primarily in evil capitalists, to the detriment of the rest of society.

Against Sociobiology (Bethell 2001)

In this article, Tom Bethell revives the concerns of the 19th century about Darwinism, updating it to include the "social Darwinism" of sociobiology in the 20th century. Just as evolution was challenging to the religious conservatives of the 1800's, so is behavioral psychology a challenge to the influence of God on Man's character. Bethell argues most successfully against determinism, which concerns him in that it implies that Man has no free will.

Indeed, if one looks at the writings of most sociobiologists, social determinism is one of the greatest criticisms; subsequent work on sociobiology has introduced the elements of free will and differences in behavior, particularly with studies of sub-groups whose behavior may differ from the mainstream of human society (Mealey, Sex Differences: Developmental and Evolutionary Strategies 2000)

Reform Math Education (Reys 2002)

This article argues that mathematics education in the United States is not working, partly because it is mired in the teaching methods of the 19th century. The author argues that there is a 'natural' interrelationship between the various mathematical divisions, such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry and statistics. He cites other countries which teach a more integrated version of mathematics, and shows that their educational scores are higher than those of U.S. students. He argues that math education in the U.S. has become less relevant, but that it is needed more today than ever before. He is particularly concerned that the math curricula include problem-solving, which affects how students think, not just how well they can memorize rules. He also advocates the use of statistics, which are in much more common use today than when U.S. math curricula were established over a century ago.

Selfish Genes and Social Darwinism (Midgely 1981)

Midgely's letter to Dawkins et al. is more closely related to her philosophical concerns about social Darwinism, and the perceived damage that it had done to society from the beginning of the 20th century. Much as Bethell argues, Midgely is concerned that Sociobiology can be used to take away free will. She adds concerns about the difficulty of "classifying" man in such a way that people can be put into neat "boxes" with sociobiological terms which can make them liable to be ' selfish', 'altruistic', 'spite' or to 'manipulate'. She feels that such terms are too simplistic. She is particularly incensed about the use of the word "selfish," which she regards as misleading, despite Dawkins' attempt to distance himself from the value-laden interpretation ("meme"?) placed on it. Her concern is that, despite the qualifying language, the general reader will misinterpret Dawkins' use of the word and the concept. Midgely, the philosopher, may have a more general problem with the categorization and generalization which accompanies psychoanalysis as well as sociobiology -- even going back to Freud.

Sociobiology (Holcomb, Sociobiology 2005)

Holcomb presents a balanced view of sociobiology, including some of the counter-arguments shown above. He points out that sociobiological ideas existed well before the publication of the "Selfish Gene," or even E. O Wilson's work in 1975. He points to the psychological and sociological readings of Darwin, and how they were incorporated in subsequent works. There was indeed an active debate in the late 19th century about determinism, survival of the fittest and survival strategies. He also provides some easy ways to determine the specific sub-branch of scientific thinking by outlining 5 steps to develop a sociobiological argument. Another way to look at Holcomb's article is as a literature review of Sociobiology, with the antecedents and subsequent extensions of E.O. Wilson's thoughts.

Memes: Marketing in the 21st Century (Meyerson 2007)

Meyerson follows a well-trodden path of the application of psychology and sociobiology to advertising and marketing. He presents Dawkins' concept of memes, relating them to branding and creating an image or cultural idea within a small and growing group of potential customers. He argues that coming up with a meme for your company is only the first -- and perhaps the easiest -- part of developing a meme strategy. Constant repetition is an important part of the strategy, with the meme in several different kinds of milieu and with a number of positive associations. A meme, in Meyerson's construct, represents creativity, focus and success. His company develops memes and meme strategies for companies; it is difficult to determine from his "come-on" article whether his work is similar or identical to branding firms which develop logos and the associated graphics. Perhaps his adoption of the "meme" concept is a way to take a fairly current concept and adapt it to differentiate his meme from the others.

Third World Traveler -- Jonathan Kozol (Kozol 2007)

Kozol's use of the "Third World" meme is evocative. He is clearly trying to shake up the reader, make him/her uncomfortable about the state of education in the United States. Kozol was originally a civil rights agitator in the 1960's, and his main concern continues to be the re-segregation of students in the U.S. over the past 30 years. His methodology is to go to "Third World" locations in the U.S. where students are clearly segregated, and suffer from poor and indifferent educational institutions. He offers five different areas, which must surely be the worst in the country, to make his point. As an example, he offers East St. Louis, which was once referred to as the "murder capital of the United States." The dilapidated buildings, dispirited teachers and administrators, and hopeless students argue that the Third World is alive and well in our secondary schools, and that there is little hope of improvement without a meaningful reintegration of our schools.

International Conference on Secondary Education (Mulford 2002)

This document is primarily a call to arms for reform of secondary education in the 21st century. While the five aims of this conference, which took place in the Sultanate of Oman, are clear in their wish to defend education reform, their strategies and tactics are less clear. The reason for this could be the multi-cultural make-up of the participants, and the fact that the UN does not want to make enemies amongst its member nations. As with any multi-governmental body, the book is full of citations and well-meaning platitudes. An example: Jacques Delors' report which calls for "learning in schools needs to focus not just on knowing but also doing, living together and being." One might as well mention breathing and eating, in order to be all-inclusive and non-discriminatory. The "strategies" for better teaching include such deep resolutions as "teacher involvement," "parent involvement," and "leadership." One might as well take school improvement platitudes from the back of a cereal box.

Education Programs Constitutional; Growth Steady (CER 2007)

This press release argues that minorities are the particular beneficiaries of education reform. The increasing participation in charter schools is a significant boost to minority education: according to the report, 42% of charter schools focus on "at-risk" kids, and 60% of all kids in charter schools come from "high-risk" backgrounds. Without mentioning the National Education Association by name, the head of the Center for Educational Reform claims that those who are fighting against school choice… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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