Astrology and the Vancouver School Board -or- Does anyone else find this weird?

The past week has been packed. At the end of this month, I will be heading out to sea for three weeks. Going to sea may sound fun,but it really means packing up a laboratory, and fitting it in a small space allotted to you on a boat. It also means preparing everything you could possibly fathom needing for your work – in triplicate – just in case.

So, giving my body a break from cleaning plastic bottles with piping hot acid, I decided to grab lunch. To give my mind a break, I decided to grab whatever pamphlet, newspaper, or, in this case, Vancouver School Board Summer Experience 2008 brochure that was available. Flipping through the Continuing Adult Education courses, I stumbled across something between Office Systems & Procedures and Personal Image and Health that I found somewhat alarming – :

My camera phone can’t focus on such small writing, so here’s the text:

If you are the parent (or grandparent) of a child from 0 to 17, learn how Zodiac signs influence your child’s personality & abilities. Use this knowledge to help you child develop new skills & abilities for being successful. Discover talents & capabilities of your child according to the main planets in a birth chart.Three sessions – $49

I hope I’m not the only one that is bothered by this? Alright, I get accounting, martial arts, and even floristry arts courses – but astrology? I’m sorry, but is this a case where a public school board that is promoting flagrant mysticism? Mind you, they aren’t specific about astrology – among others (see here), there are courses available to assist tapping into your Practical intuition, Seeing the Light (a course on reading auras), and Secret Brain Boosters (“Brain dysfunction is the #1 reason people fail work, school & relationships”).

Something about this irks me. Perhaps it’s the fact that this is a publicly funded program (i.e. good luck finding a course in “How to be a better Christian/Muslim/Taoist/Zeus-ist”). What do you think: should courses that cover material demonstrated to have little or no scientific merit be taught by the VSB, or any VSB-related project?

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: