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HISD Takes the "No Fun" Route: Fake Science 101 Is Not for Them

Not for HISD.
Not for HISD.

It can take a lot to get kids interested in a textbook these days; for some it can mean taking a novel approach, one based on a Daily Show/Colbert Report take on things.

That seems to be the thinking of the creators of Fake Science 101, a book that bills itself as a "A Less-Than-Factual Guide to Our Amazing World."

Its bona fides:

For years, readers have flocked to the Fake Science site for scientifically flavored information. The research there has been lauded by Mental Floss as "inaccurate and ridiculous in every way," praised by the Guardian as "brilliantly false," heralded by io9 as "amazing," and noted by Google as "a website."

Alas, it won't be coming to HISD.

A memo we've obtained has been circulated after new teachers, or at least one of them, put in a request to use Fake Science 101.

The brushback was harsh:

I received one such request for an alternative textbook "Fake Science 101." I am aware how it would be used, but we are concerned it will reflect poorly on the district. A book like that may be intended humorously, but it is mocking the quality of education in our district.

We cannot have our district ridiculed as a non-scientific one (see many Westinghouse/Intel awardees). This book is not permissable for you to distribute or your students to have. Our textbooks are not "fake" and no textbook should give that impression. It would negatively impact students.

We shall not be mocked!!!

HISD spokesman Jason Spencer tells Hair Balls he can't track down the memo in question, but doesn't disagree with the philosophy: "[W]e would agree that spending taxpayer funds on what you've described as a 'spoof' publication with little or no educational value would be difficult to defend at a time when schools are losing state funding," he says.

All of which leaves co-author Phil Edwards baffled.

I guess my reaction (other than huh?) would be that...

Lessons from the blog have been used by teachers to introduce scientific concepts in the past and many classrooms have enjoyed using Fake Science to start conversations. I also think satire encourages the skeptical thinking that makes science work. That thinking shouldn't be prohibited.

The book has received a wide range of coverage from real scientists and other media...That said, it was not our intention to mock any textbook or district.

Edwards said if a specific teacher has any questions, "tell him I'm happy to speak in front of the class until I'm tazed or something."

But we hope that's not necessary.


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