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B33b13br0x's Avatar Joined almost 3 years ago
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Go to: Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

B33b13br0x's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by B33b13br0x

How about pretty much just what you said slightly restructured.

"In order to explain even theoretically what happened. I would have to explain parallel universes in other dimensions separated by membranes and when they collide and the membrane rips, that universe gets destroyed and another one is formed.

this kind of physics is not yet part of the [high school physics] curriculum, [partly because to understand the mathematics behind the theories would require several more semesters of higher calculus, but also because some of these theories would take me entire semesters to explain in their own right].

Some of it is only theoretical and and not all the math is without paradox. [Some, possibly much of] this info [will likely] change as we get more data.

[I know you're all very bright and I encourage you to continue investigating this yourselves but unfortunately all of this is light years beyond the scope of this class and the curriculum. I can suggest some sources to anyone who's interested if you see me after class.]"

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 20:57:18 UTC | #949462

Go to: Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

B33b13br0x's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by B33b13br0x

Offer a frank statement about how and why such a statement doesn't belong in a discussion of science.

Explain that the answer of what occurred prior to the planck time is currently unknowable and therefore irrelevant to the discussion, and that if they care to infer the requirement of some sort of super-natural entity for which they can have no scientific basis, then, that's their business, and you won't argue the point with them. Or perhaps, that any position on the origin of the universe (prior to the big bang) falls outside of the purview of the class.

You could also use it as a launching point for a discussion about the history of science and the tendency of humans to invoke super-natural processes when their cognitive faculties failed, and that while you won't go so far as to tell that they're invocation of a super-natural power is wrong, when people have done so in the past, they've failed.

You could also talk about how such an invocation tends to stop scientific inquiry, and that over the ages people of faith have found that shoe-horning their favorite deity into the scientific questions that they simply haven't yet found an answer to, leads to a deity whose importance and power decreases steadily as science advances. Though admittedly that last part would probably be stepping over the line.

The other very important thing is not start by being overly critical of any particular point. The point of my strategy was to teach them the tools to think critically of everything, and not singling out, for example, religious thought.

Maybe I'm not properly taking into account the mindset of the students but it would seem if you're not standing there telling them that god didn't make the universe they're not likely to respond with "How do you know that it wasn't god who made the universe?", at least not as an opening remark. It seems a more likely opening question would be along the lines of "Well what started the big bang?" Responding with the thing about the Planck time may be enough, and you then shouldn't even need to make the point about a god being irrelevant to the discussion unless they specifically follow it up with a question about god.

In your position as a teacher in a public school in the US, you can't confront their beliefs head-on (I know that you know this), all you can do is arm them with the tools that might motivate them to confront them on their own.

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 20:27:05 UTC | #949460

Go to: Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

B33b13br0x's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by B33b13br0x

To the OP, I have to agree with some of the other comments here. I don't think you need to or should even be bringing any mention of god or religions into the matter.

If any of your more fervent students bring it up, I'd say you should give frank statements about why and how any such statements don't particularly belong in a discussion of science and, possibly, why and how they run contrary to observed reality. Be careful with that.

If you wanted to be more subversive about getting your students to apply critical thinking skills to their studies and then to the rest of their lives, as a science teacher I think the best thing you could do is to get your students to start always questioning, "how do you/we/I/they know that?"

And I don't mean just you beating them down asking them how they know something, but also encouraging them to ask you how you know something. It's the sort of thing you can even incorporate into your lesson plans fairly easily..."blah, blah, blah, something about how do we know this is an accurate assessment of reality?..." "how do we know that this is actually how X works?..." or even make it into a class participation game "Now you may ask me how I know this, everyone say it with me, 'How do you know that?'" Make it perfectly clear from the beginning that "how do you know that?" is the most important thing that they can ask, and that they should never, ever accept anything simply because you, or anyone else, told them that it was true.

Make your students always aware of their initial premises when forming their conclusions and press them sometimes about, "What would it look like if your starting premise were incorrect?" But be careful with that one too. It would also be a good exercise to ask them this when it's a conclusion that is scientifically valid.

This sort of thing could be particularly effective in physics when discussing things that don't make immediate intuitive sense.

In this way you're not actually stepping on anyone's toes you're just teaching students to think critcally. If that leads to reducing/eliminating their confidence in the authoritarian teachings of their parents/pastors/religions then it's just an added bonus.

Or perhaps this strategy would be doomed to failure, idk I'm not a teacher.

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 19:25:17 UTC | #949451

Go to: Why I'm saying no to a smear

B33b13br0x's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by B33b13br0x

I'm kind of at a loss to understand why this piece is reproduced here. Doesn't seem normal rd net material.

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 00:36:18 UTC | #929137

Go to: Tim Minchin song mocking Christ pulled from Jonathan Ross' Christmas special

B33b13br0x's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by B33b13br0x

I posted this on the Telegraph site about the song:

I'm generally a Minchin fan and I like the idea of the song but in this case I think he missed the mark on execution. The music wasn't particularly great and it didn't show his usual wit. I think he should do a rewrite and come back to us with the 2nd or maybe 3rd iteration.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 21:30:29 UTC | #902040

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