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A few years ago a couple students asked me if I was going to watch Mars over the weekend. Confused I asked why. They both proceeded to tell me that it is going to be the closest to Earth in its orbit and will appear larger than the Moon. They then proceeded to show me the viral email someone forwarded them.
I believe that we are witnessing some of the side effects of too much data too quick. Just 25-30 years ago if you wanted to know about Mars you found a book at your local library or asked a person of authority who might know such as a science teacher or university professor. Today kids can get a little information and tweek it to seem real just to see if it will go viral. The more sensationalized the better. Or worse yet, there is a growing distrust of authority and people realize that access to information is one of the things that keeps a person of authority in a position of authority. Think web MD and other medical sites. Maybe you don’t need a doctor after all.
I think it is imperative that we start to emphasize science and scientific reasoning in school to combat ignorance. As a teacher I often feel my hands are tied, but in my class logic, the scientific methods, and critical thinking skills are woven into the whole year’s lessons. In a sense the science content is actually less important in my mind. I tell my students that I care more about their ability to critically think than what grade they make. Learn to think and the grades will follow. We question everything. I answer questions with a guiding question. As a teacher I am constantly asking them to tell me why you know what you know – that and show me the data.
This thread was posted on June 18, 2015 at 7:56 PM ET by Bob Martin.
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