Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.Richard Feynman
|Richard Feynman, boy from Brooklyn.|
I recently ranted about what should not be presented as science in school.
We live in an age of the expert, of the specialist. Few folks can even change a tire anymore because they can call someone else whose job is to do just that.
We also live in an age of magical thinking--we accept what we are told out of ignorance, out of fear, but (sadly) mostly out of comfort.
Science class is the one place in school where a the discipline requires that a child be taught to question, well, everything, at least everything that forms our ideas about the natural world.
Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.Richard Feynman
The Republican state platform in Texas wants critical thinking skills banned in classrooms if it leads to "challenging the student’s fixed beliefs ...." There goes science.
We chuckle, but we take this lightly at our peril.
Science requires questioning authority.
That's how science works!
|xkcd, of course--Randall Munroe may be the best science teacher ever!|
Galileo, arguably the father of modern science, spent his final years under house arrest for pushing heliocentrism. We have come close to seeing the major tenet of biology pushed aside in Kansas, in Pennsylvania, and (naturally) Texas.
If kids in class get what science means, learn how to do it, and most important, become in charge of their own thinking (which means questioning their own assumptions as well), we'll still see the rabble bearing pitchforks at board of ed meetings.
But the rabble will be rooting for truth, not dogma, and this Great Experiment started by Tom, John, and George back in the 1770's will have a chance to right itself.
Feynman photo from psnt.net--no idea where they got it, I'd guess Cal Tech.