Monday, August 05, 2013

August and CSCOPE Football

Well it's fully August now. Soon, they tell me, the football practice fields from one side of Texas to the other will be full of teenage boys willing to bash each others' skulls in with that right of passage known as Texas High School Football.
Another school year is about to begin.
And another mid-term election season is about to begin.
What does one have to do with the other? Not much, now that the legislature has had its way - again - with the state's school curriculum, this time changing the number or required tests for graduation from 12 to 5, and easing up on standards for earning a higher-than-minimum-standards high school diploma.
Not much. But then you forget that the Republicans are still all in a froth about CSOPE lesson plans, the liberal plan to indoctrinate Texas schoolchildren into the ways of Islam and other "Anti-American Values." CSCOPE is easy to say and easy to remember making it fodder for the mill that addresses intelligence-challenged Republican primary voters.
Dan Patrick and David Dewhurst are now fighting it out for supremacy in the Texas Lieutenant Governor's race and CSCOPE has become the political football on their playing field.
Now don't get me wrong. This isn't an issue that Dewhurst and Patrick have strong disagreements about. That would be just too much controversy even for the Texas electorate. No, they are equally vociferous in their opposition to using CSCOPE lesson plans, even if they are now freely available in the public domain. The art in this case - and make no mistake, this is an artform - is to make yourself the most vocal opponent of CSCOPE.  
If you are in the dark about CSCOPE lesson plans, you are not alone. Up until now, only teachers are well-versed in them, and they were used in between 70 and 80% of Texas' classrooms - were because beginning this month, their use is forbidden by fiat.
And I couldn't care less.
I don't use CSCOPE in my classes, and would never do it. I was shown the curriculum several years ago and found it wanting - in my area.
Here's an inside tip: if you want to evaluate a system of physics lesson plans, go and look at what they do with Newton's 3rd Law. Newton's 3rd Law is the most misunderstood of his three, so it is a quick go-to when you are in a rush to evaluate what someone has done with the physics curriculum.
CSCOPE got it wrong.
Here is the problem:
As indicated, letter choice H is the CSCOPE correct answer.
In actuality, there is no correct answer. In further actuality, the problem is written so poorly that it is clear to me that the writer has a poor working knowledge of Newton's Laws. The answer, not given, is that the boy and the dog exert equal forces on each other. That's Newton's 3rd Law.
But in the end, it doesn't matter to Dan Patrick or David Dewhurst whether the CSCOPE lesson plans are scholastically correct. Truth is, I doubt they would have the background to judge these lesson plans. In the end, it's not about who is the most correct, it's about who is the most right.


Alex M said...

I'm not sure I follow your reasoning. If the boy and the dog exerted equal forces on each other, neither would move. That's what 'equal forces' means. That the dog pulled the boy forward necessarily entails that the dog exerted greater force than the retardation applied by the boy, else the boy would have remained where he was.

Hal said...

Alex that is the common misconception that comes from a confusion between Newton's 2nd and 3rd law. Newton's second law is all about external forces operating on one thing, in this case, the rope. If external forces are balanced then the rope does not accelerate. However, Newton's Third Law are about forces acting on each other, in this case, the boy on the dog and the dog on the boy - the rope is just the medium between them. In this case, because momentum is conserved forces of each object on the other are equal.