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This open letter was motivated by reports of a brilliant teenage girl and star pupil with excellent grades being expelled from school and prosecuted as an adult following a quite harmless experiment bursting a plastic bottle through pressure and conducted in an examplarily safetey-conscious way. See the report in the Miami New Times .
Dear Mr. Pritchard,
I think you have made a very serious mistake in your handling of the event and taken the Nanny State to a new extreme. Have you ever read Richard P. Feynman’s anecdotes about his laboratory and his mishaps therein when much younger than 16? An acquaintance of mine, a California electronics consultant, is forever moaning about today’s engineering graduates, who have never in their whole life soldered even the simplest electronic circuit together. The group of my close school friends all had “chemical laboratories” at home and what we got up to was far worse than anything Kiera did. We now number one full and and one assistant professor, three with a doctorate of science, and two, including myself, with just a Diplom, i.e. master’s degree.
Today’s youth are about as competent with the technology they use every day as zoo-raised animals are about fending for themselves. I despair about what will happen to them, when all their zookeepers finally retire. Just administering each other with power points will generate neither food nor power.
On the other hand I’m confident that better schools than yours will right now be queuing up to enrol a student like Kiera and I can only hope the judge trying her will show more sense than you did.
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