More Than Ever, Our Kids Need Bullshit Meters

You've seen the surveys:

Less than half of Americans think climate change is a serious threat.

Depending on the survey, between 40 and 50% of Americans disagree with the scientific concept of evolution.

Too many of us choose to believe in fantasies, in magic. We would rather ignore the facts that science has discovered. We refuse to get involved in politics. We resist changing our way of life even it means millions of people will die and we may even go extinct as a species along with millions of other organisms.

How do we protect our children from ignorance, charlatans and quacks? Give them bullshit meters. Also known as critical thinking skills. In my state, we've done this for almost 60 years through what we call Outdoor School. Sending classrooms of middle school students to the woods for a week to study science. To ask Questions about life, natural systems and natural resources. In the words one of the founders of Outdoor School: "We teach kids how to think, not what to think."

After years of cuts to school budgets and the loss of this tremendous program in much of Oregon, a grassroots coalition--the Oregon Outdoor Education Coalition--came together to fix this. Their work led to the passage of a law establishing a statewide goal of universal Outdoor School and this fall the ballot measure they collected 140,000 signatures to qualify will be before voters.

Measure 99 sets aside $22 million a year to ensure 50,000 Oregon children get to attend a full week of Outdoor School. A small price for a lifetime Bullshit Meter.

Check out this TedTalk by me on why our society needs more critical thinking and the special way that taking kids outside to learn engages them as people, as citizens and as stewards.