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What Do You Know?
Posted: 25 April 2005 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Guest:

. . . I don’t get that number 3 on that list is in some sense ultimate. Replication is only part of the game. What about modification with purpose. Are you familiar with the work on artificial life going on today? What about genetic engineering? These would seem to go beyond mere replication.

Maggie:

It would seem that you are baiting your scientist friends to discuss this subject with you. Just might work…

I’m not sure what got into me last night, but you’re right, Maggie. Baiting was exactly what I was doing. But look at the above quote from Guest (whoever he or she is). That’s an insight that would not have come my way had she not gotten a bit impatient with my mock-pomposity. But I trust she knew that I was being a bit off-the-wall. I promise not to do it again in the future (at least not so blatantly).

Of course science has accomplished astounding results and scientists are probably (in my opinion, at least) the brightest humans on earth. I hope no one takes my critiques of science as an insult to their intelligence. But there will always be room for improvement. What I’m getting at is important for several reasons, one of which I will try to explain now.

Children, especially the hyperactive ones, tend to need context and background meaning in order for science subjects to seem compelling enough to cause them to want to listen carefully to complex notions their teachers are trying their best to explain. If a junior-high teacher one day starts trying to explain how chemical formulas get assembled, or orders the class to memorize some theorems, or . . . you name it. Without a compelling context, many students will start looking out the window. If you lose them even for the first hour, very often you’ve lost them forever. Where does this context come from? It seems apparent to me that science-teacher training could focus more on history and philosophy.

Thanks much for the additional comments, Maggie. You make a lot of sense, as always -Dave

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Posted: 25 April 2005 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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But I trust she knew that I was being a bit off-the-wall. I promise not to do it again in the future (at least not so blatantly).

I don’t believe you should make such promises.  If you’re going to be a bit off-the-wall, it’s better to be blatant.  That way, it’s more obvious what you’re getting at and a person doesn’t misinterpret you in a negative way.  It’s much the same as the comments in another thread about irony and sarcasm… hard to read in text.  So do us a favor and continue to be blatant.

So now you have a fourth approach for your analysis.  Progress, huh?

Gosh, you make me feel old.  Chemical formulas and theorems in junior high… that’s not the kind of classes I had.  You have an excellent point about training, but how realistic is it?  In today’s world, can training realistically be that well rounded?  In an ideal environment, teachers would be self-motivated to learn to incorporate these areas into their context.  Even if they were taught in basic training, what percentage of teachers have the ability to master that ability to excite and motivate students?  And how much space do you have in the curriculum?

I agree with your thoughts, but certainly think a lot of people would be oblivious to them.  And children aren’t the only ones who need context and background meaning, are they?

Maggie

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Posted: 28 April 2005 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Maggie, going much further here for me would involve too many words, and without them context would be lacking. Also, I’m afraid I can’t spend time here these days, but I hope samharris.org stays up for a while. Maybe I’ll reincarnate myself using a better name.

Thanks much   -Dave.

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