Topic: Science Education
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adjust our lenses
Sat Mar 9 09:10:06 EST 1996
As a fourth grade teacher, my actions in the classroom are influence by my belief that the class(me included) is a self-organizing, always changing and evolving quantum system. Outside disturbances set the system into disequalibrium or chaos which if handled in a less than wrong way is an opportunity for the system to reorganize into a whole new hole. Diversity is crucial for this to happen as well as the need to let go of our desire for predetermined outcomes or right answers. Because the public school system is a large fishbowl and the educators the goldfish which are constantly under scrutiny and critism, it is very difficult for a risk-taking and further-from-wrong environment to happen. I do agree this "always right, just give me the facts" kind of thinking can go now. It slows down our natural conscious evolution. Often I wonder what it would be like if teachers, students, parents, etc. could look at a curious, thinking, problem-tackling class which is in the process of unfolding its potential and say "They are experiencing chaos (there is a difference between chaos and pandemoniom) and soon they will reorganize into something greater!"?
adjust our lenses
Sat Mar 9 09:15:02 EST 1996
As a fourth grade teacher, my actions in the classroom are influenced by my belief that the class(me included) is a self-organizing, always changing and evolving quantum system. Outside disturbances set the system into disequalibrium or chaos which if handled in a less than wrong way is an opportunity for the system to reorganize into a whole new whole. Diversity is crucial for this to happen as well as the need to let go of our desire for predetermined outcomes or right answers. Because the public school system is a large fishbowl and the educators the goldfish which are constantly under scrutiny and critism, it is very difficult for a risk-taking and further-from-wrong environment to happen. I do agree this "always right, just give me the facts" kind of thinking can go now. It slows down our natural conscious evolution. Often I wonder what it would be like if teachers, students, parents, etc. could look at a curious, thinking, problem-tackling class which is in the process of unfolding its potential and say "They are experiencing chaos (there is a difference between chaos and pandemoniom) and soon they will reorganize into something greater!"?
Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome
Thu Mar 21 16:14:37 EST 1996
I have an 11-year-old daughter (Melody) who is going to be screened soon for SSS. I have not found much about this topic on the WWW, either by looking in Lycos or under Yahoo. If anyone has any good URLs for it, I might be interested in them. You may send them to me (Mike Schwartz) at firstname.lastname@example.org "or" email@example.com Thanks!
Thu Mar 28 15:36:08 EST 1996
For me, this essay was one of those preaching-to-the-choir kind of
things. I personally like to think. Thinking is not rewarded in our
society, though. Thinking has often gotten me into trouble. I work in a
corporate reseach and development lab at one of the largest high
tech companies in the world, and I can tell you that even in these
research labs very little thinking goes on. It is not rewarded and
is actively discouraged. The most memoriable occasion
of thinking on the job and being reprimanded was one time about two
years ago I was sitting in my office with my feet on my desk, leaned
back with my eyes closed and simulating in my head the operation of a new packet
wireless data protocol I was developing (it would have taken
months to write a computer simulation, which I did do eventually,
of course). My boss barked at me to sit
up and do something useful. He must have been walking by and saw me
reclined like that. (After becoming unflustered, I went to the bathroom, sat in a stall, and started
the simulation over again.) My boss wishes I would leave the
department, even though that protocol generated 12 patents, is now
an ANSI standard, and has an excellent chance of becoming a billion
dollar business for the company. He views me as a liability because
I don't behave like everyone else. Back to the point, though,
thinking is rarely taught in our society and is often discouraged.
Thinking was not encouraged during any of my schooling. I nearly had
the desire to think flogged out of me by poor grades in college.
Different answers were highly discouraged. They made the grader's
job more difficult. The student's job was to memorize and
regurgiate facts. Learn to how apply formulas to a few types of
situations. It is a large part of our culture that people do not
think. Is this a recent phenomenon? I doubt it. The effects of nobody
thinking on our culture weren't so scary in previous centuries. But
I believe that people who think are rare, especially the older people
get. I have spent a lot of time in my daugher's school and I know that
five year olds in our culture still like to think. And that by eight
years of age that spark in the eyes, that desire to think, is greatly
diminished. I once worked at a daycare center that catered
to the children of migrant field workers, and even at the ages of
two and three, those kids had had the spark driven out of them. I have
always wondered if it was the culture they came from or the horrible
lifestyle they lived that burnt out the lights in their eyes so young.
Either way, it was horrible to see. Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't
be happier if I had learned not to think in college. The people around
me to who don't think seem to be happier than me. As a final note, I
noticed that if you substitute the word 'masturbate' for 'think'' in the
original essay, most of the essay still makes a lot of sense. And
like the original essay also
says something about people sacrificing a critically important
part of themselves in order to conform in our society. (And why does
stupid crap like that come leaping off the page at me all the time?)
Mon Jun 17 11:37:54 EDT 1996
Response to the last comment
Mon Jun 17 11:58:40 EDT 1996
I agree with the last commentor's speculation that the lack of
thinking in our society is not a new phenomenon, and that the effects
of not thinking are potentially more "scary" now than in previous times.
However, the commentor shoots him/herself in the foot at the end of the
comment, and has also shot the whole commenting process on this topic
in the foot, apparently, since no one has chosen to post since then. What
I am referring to is the commentor's last three sentences. Those statements
throw into doubt the commentor's credibilty, and thereby discourage
further comment and exchange (someone reading only the last comment,
for example, might think, "what is this list, a bunch of nuts?").
It seems apparent to me also that the commentor doubted the wisdom or
validity of including those thoughts in the comment, finishing the
statement with an apologetic "why does crap like this leap off the page
at me all the time?" Clearly, if you think that the idea is "crap," you
should not post it. If these things do occur to you, a better idea might
be to delay posting that part and discuss it with someone you trust first.
At the very least, learn from experience that in certain venues, certain
comments are inappropriate and damage the process of communication and
Please Define Think
Sat Oct 19 21:01:24 EDT 1996
If some people's definition of thinking is *my internal dialogue*, then how can they ever be convinced that they might enjoy thinking? Or, that it might serve some useful purpose? Or that it might even lead a happier, more optimistic life?
What does it mean to think?
Re: Please Define Think
Sat Oct 26 19:54:49 EDT 1996
I personally define it as being to extrapolate, from your own knowledge, who, what, when, why, or how. Or else you take someone else's idea and are able to apply it to a different area or situation than the original one.
Tue Dec 10 22:17:02 EST 1996
Hypothesis of Eve
Tue Dec 10 22:24:09 EST 1996
I am a ninth grade student in Honors Biology. Our teacher told us that scientists should be able to trace back to the first women because cells are totipotent. But, my science teacher tests us mentally. He tells us never to accept anything said as true until we feel it is true ourselves through gathering information. So, can this really happen? Have scientists done this? If they have not, why not? If they have and it did not work, why? Also, I came here through Scientific American and I was wondering if anyone had a November of 1991 issue on hand. If you do, I would be very appreciative if you would send me an article on the Kuaitt fires and the apology that was printed the next issue. Thanks and does anyone read this (this is my first time here). I noticed that the most recent post is 10/27/96.
Science and Thinking
Fri Dec 20 14:54:22 EST 1996
I am a seimologist by profession and am now the director of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education. CASE is a program at the Carnegie Institution of Washington to work with elementary school teachers in the DC Public Schools to strengthen the teaching of science and mathematics. CASE was started by Maxine Singer, the president of the Carnegie Institution and a renowned biochemist. The CASE staff works as a team of scientists and teachers. Chuck James is the master teacher of the team; he was the science teacher at a fine private elementary school in the city and has a background in earth science. We asked a mathematics teacher to join us because we wanted to work out the connections between the math children need to learn and the science they can do in elementary school.
I have a PhD and attended three excellent and elite colleges and universities. However I did not learn how to teach science to children or their teachers. I have been an apprentice to Chuck James to learn how to get children to do science, to ask questions, to think. I have learned to use simple activities to get across the essential concepts--toys with which children play and learn that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We have a lot of fun and it is wonderful to see children come alive. We work mostly with poor Latino and African American boys and girls because it is they who go to DC public schools. I tell people that the children's eyes are full of light, that when we go in to do science they are curious, bright and alive--just like my children, my friends' children. And I see the tragedy of abandoning children to ignorance, despair and hopelessness. And I understand the rage when they get older.
Doing science with children has brought back to me the excitement of science and the fun, much of which I had lost during the grueling process of getting a PhD. I was the first woman to get a PhD in seismology at Columbia University and can tell a classic horror story of fighting my way to a PhD. I have discovered that science is a wonderful way to teach young children, not only how to do science but to read and do mathematics. At that age it is a natural way for a child to think because they are exploring the natural world around them, trying to figure out how things work.
I recomment to those who want to find a different way to teach that is based on asking questions and thinking to look at what Jerry Pine and Jerome Bower, biophysics professors at Caltech, have done in elementary science in the Pasadena Public Schools. There is a group of scientists working on how to teach so that it is more like doing science than reading science.
Dr. Ines Lucia Cifuentes
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