Today, I was confronted with someone who did not know who Stephen Hawking is. This person didn’t know of his books or his achievements, but more intriguingly didn’t know who he was after seeing a picture of him, or hearing his distinct synthesized speech. I attempted to rationalize how anyone could be so ignorant to what I would consider the most notable and recognizable scientist alive(perhaps I would call Niel Degrasse Tyson the most recognized from his seven visits to the Colbert Show and countless other tv appearances, but certainty not as notable as Hawking). The most damning piece of this story is that the ignorant person in question is a soon to be college graduate.
How is this possible? How can a seemingly academically successful individual be able to go through well over two decades of life, of learning, without so much of a whisper of Hawkings name floating through their ears. I can only speculate. If I were pressed to provide some sort of reason why, I would have to blame this persons k-12 education. I am now and have been a resident of Florida for quite some time, and I can I believe rightfully assume this person is indeed a product of the Florida public education system as well(abbreviated to FPES ). Although I started my experience in the FPES perhaps later in my academic career than this individual as I transferred down to Florida with my family in the year 2000, which put me into 8th grade middle school I think I can speak with some honesty about the k-12 situation in it’s entirety. Bluntly, it is dismal. I am by no far means an intelligent person whose intellectual status would elevate me above the median intelligence of my peers, but I coasted through my time in the FPES using the knowledge I had gained previously. That previous knowledge was attained in Vermont, in their public schools system from kindergarten to 7th grade. This accelerated start, only by comparison, lead me to see how gloriously stupid the FPES had made my peers. Memory willing, I cannot remember a time when I discussed contemporary literary, scientific, or really any astute mind in my time in the FPES. Of course it would be more than possible for a product of the FPES to not know you Hawking is.
I digress. My first post on this new blogging thing(I’m only a few years behind on the times) is a ranting post about Florida’s poor education system. It doesn’t help that I am personally connected to this system, as there are more than a half dozen people in my life that are, or who will be teachers in the not-too-distant future. I would like to believe that my pursuing posts will be a bit more focused, but that is no more than a fevered dream.