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Forensics in Action

The nation has seen the value of drama training in recent days, as many of the students who survived the Florida high school shooting, and who have appeared on television, are members of the high school drama club, and the skills and affiliations developed in the drama club have been displayed with great clarity.

The word "Forensics" has several meanings. In High School, forensics encompasses speech and drama. Speech includes debate, declamation, extemp, interpretation, expository, impromptu, and so forth, while drama includes acting, singing, improvisation, dance, mime, gymnastics, and so forth.

It must be evident that time spent in speech and drama work is providing a more useful development than time spent in geometry, algebra, trigonometry or calculus. Many, if not most, high school students sweat through these mathematics classes, and once graduated from high school, never give cotangents or secants another thought. The heavy emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) coursework is a product of Sputnik, when the entire education system was focused on finding and developing scientists and engineers to win the Cold War.

Yet today, few American students pursue expertise in STEM fields. Many are called, but few are chosen. There is a lot of whining about shortages of American citizens in STEM careers, but STEM jobs are not high paying, and most American follow the money. This persistent obsession with math and science courses to identify promising scientists means that the other 99% who are not budding scientists are stuck with long hours of pointless study.

Too many Americans graduate from High School [and college] with little ability to speak in public, and no more than a rudimentary understanding of how our country is governed. The education system should be re-oriented away from Cold War obsessions, and focused on giving young people the skills they will need in later life.

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