In school, education must go like clockwork.
There's only so much time for each subject, every class, each lesson, every idea.
That's why a decision by the Ohio Board of Education about how to teach where we came from has me nervously glancing at my watch.
The board decided Tuesday that Ohio's science teachers must teach the theory of evolution. What a surprise. Score one for Charles Darwin and scientific reason.
The same board also instructed science teachers to use critical analysis. In other words, tell students a debate rages over the origin of life. Teachers are on their own when it comes to mentioning the opposing ideas.
What a mistake.
Score one for creationists and the idea that life came from a higher power because it's so complex. That's the so-called theory of intelligent design.
The board's decision was by design. But, it wasn't intelligent.
Made in the spirit of compromise with certain board members, being open-minded, bowing to thousands of e-mails pushing intelligent design - take your pick - this decision sets a vile precedent. It opens the floodgates to every half-baked, crackpot notion about any subject taught in school.
Above all, it amounts to a waste of precious time.
I'm a believer
Before this goes any farther, let's get three things straight.
One: I'm all for critical analysis. That's how I make my living.
Two: I'm a believer in the Big Guy upstairs. I also believe in science. Including the findings of one of God's creatures, Charles Darwin.
Three: I hate to see time wasted.
Ditto for Piyush Swami. He's an education professor at the University of Cincinnati. He teaches students how to be middle-school science teachers.
He knows about the state board in Columbus. He worked there before coming to UC 22 years ago.
He also knows how the board reached its decision. He was part of the process.
In 2000 and 2001, he sat on an advisory group that urged the state not to endorse "in any way, shape or form" notions other than evolution.
Here's why: Scientific data support Darwin. And school time is of the essence.
Remember, this is about teaching science. To study the belief in a higher being, take a religion class.
Then, too, teaching opposing views takes time.
"Every time we put some of this stuff in, it has to detract from something that is germane and core to that education process," said Professor Swami.
"Time is of crucial importance in education," he added.
"Studies after studies show that whatever you spend your time on, the kids learn." Take time away from the core studies and "you are diluting the process."
Professor Swami recommends setting a time limit on classroom discussions of such notions as intelligent design.
"About 15 minutes."
Then move on.
The professor suspects that someone, somewhere in the state, will demand equal class time for a particular point of view. It can be for intelligent design or the idea that the moon is made of green cheese.
All it takes is one pesky parent and one pliant school board.
Suddenly, the professor noted, school kids could be evenly dividing their time studying evolution, intelligent design, "the moon as a god." Or a globe of green cheese.
He urges schools, teachers, parents and students to watch for these time-wasters.
Just because a point of view is popular, he said, "doesn't make it science."
Now there's a design that's truly intelligent.
Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-75 upgrade cost daunting
Issue 1 finances tough to pin down
Death of woman won't be prosecuted
RADEL: A waste of time
HOWARD: Some Good News
Museum: Belafonte's comments not our view
Cheetah becomes more than a mascot
Fire hits historic building
Official quits in a snit over pit
Campaign ad sets off alarm bells
10 arrested near N.Ky. schools
'Jackass' stunt leads to lawsuit
Jones to tout city's progress on TV
Rev. Albert Lauer of Old St. Mary's `was always teaching'
Westwood principal is honored
Nation's drug czar opposes Issue 1
Statements begin in couple's adult-video obscenity trial
Tristate A.M. Report
Talks aim to build bridge
Cops seek tips on who shot out windows of 40 cars
Fairfield dispatchers to be trained to offer medical tips
Area firm seeks shot at contract
Wanted or not, water line will be installed
EPA session tonight on Bigfoot II
Bar rates Butler judicial hopefuls
Political group told to stay away
Rivals agree: no video gambling
Soldier's body recovered
Man shot in street stickup in Delhi Twp.
Indictment charges attempted murder
Grants to help mentally ill, addicts
Columbus' police helicopters outnumber New York City's
Law firm defended Clinton, now Patton
Session out West energizes teacher