Tag Archives: science

Afraid to be Wrong

Over the past few days, mostly while shovelling snow, I have been listening to one particular podcast from the CBC Ideas Program: Knowledge and Democracy.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 7.29.04 AM The program examines the interaction between science and society, looking at the “position” of the discipline “science” in a democracy.

It is of particular interest to me because of our  recent experiences with a government that chose to muzzle scientists and withdraw support from scientific inquiry.

The podcast is a combination of a talk given by Harry Collins at Memorial University in Newfoundland, and a conversation he had with Paul Kennedy.

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It raises important questions about the position of science in society.  I recommend it to anyone interested in how science is perceived in our society, and particularly for those advocating for science instruction and literacy in our public school system.

One sentence that resonates this morning is, “Would I prefer a society where people expose their ideas to criticism, or where they hide them away so nobody can tell them that they are wrong?“.

In our work with open learning, we often hear that education leaders are afraid to openly share their learning – to be “lead learners” – because it will expose what they don’t know.

Schooling promotes this thinking – that it is better to hide your ignorance.  It is very challenging to shift people who excelled in  school – many who then entered schooling as a profession – into believing that it is better to share ideas than to hide them.

How do we create the conditions in our public education system that encourage leaders to be learners, and to openly share their learning with others?

If we want “innovation”, we need to embrace ideas.

The only way to have great ideas, is to have a lot of ideas.

If our school culture values ‘being right’ more than it values learning, we can’t be innovative.

 

 

Resources:

Are we All Scientific Experts Now? (by Harry Collins)

Ideas with Paul Kennedy: Knowledge and Democracy

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Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions From Going in One Year and Out the Other

Let me begin with a huge thanks to @RoyanLee who suggested the @InquiringShow Inquiring Minds podcast in his blog last summer.

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It has been such a great source of learning for me, especially while out walking the dog, doing the dishes, folding laundry or even (yes, Brandon Grasley) while brushing my teeth!

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 9.14.57 PMThe January 2, 2015 Inquiring Minds podcast is all about positive thinking, and how it relates to achieving our goals for 2015.

 

I grew up with a grandmother who was a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale and “The Power of Positive Thinking”.

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But does “positive thinking” actually lead to a better outcome?

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Is this quote actually even true?

Professor Gabriele Oettingen  helps us to rethink our beliefs about positive thinking.

She challenges us to think about positive thinking as a number of different activities instead of just one way of being.

Sometimes, we think very positively about an upcoming event because we have had similar success in the past.  This type of thinking is based on reality, and it often results in better outcomes because it is a motivating factor.

However, having positive daydreams about upcoming events is linked to poorer outcomes.  Positive daydreaming can lead to relaxation.  Professor Oettingen suggests that people who frequently use positive daydreaming as a strategy, convince themselves that they are fine, and they don’t take the necessary steps to move forward in achieving their goals.

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Image shared under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial share-alike license by Angie Torres.

 

Mental contrasting“, however, is a technique that can lead to successfully achieving  some goals, while letting go of goals that you will not be able to achieve.  The important factor is building close connections between your current reality and your goal as well as your current reality and identified obstacles, and what is needed to overcome the obstacles.

The process is known as “WOOP” – Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

The process is explained here: http://www.woopmylife.org/.  It’s a scientific approach to achieving the outcomes you want in life.

Can it turn your wishful thinking into the life you are looking for?

In the podcast, Indre Viskontas struggles with this confluence of science and “self-help”.  We are all looking for ways to help us achieve the things we want in life, but is this really science?

I would love to hear if this little piece of research helps you “stick” with your 2015 resolutions.

Could this be a helpful strategy for students?

Happy New Year!

How Will You Make Your Own Mess? “Creating a Culture Not of Mimics But of Masters”

We have problems.  Big problems.

Our world is warming up at an alarming rate.  Child poverty is still a reality in spite of “promises” to end it.

Who will solve these problems?

What are we doing every day to move toward solutions?

Commander Hadfield asked this question recently as host of the CBC Radio program “The Current”.

Listen to the short clip here:
http://www.cbc.ca/video/swf/UberPlayer.swf?state=shareaudio&clipId=2508270671&width=512&height=126

“It takes individual action…

What can I do to understand this better, and then based on that understanding, what can action can I take to then help improve things for myself, for Canadians and beyond our borders.”

Commander Hadfield wonders what we are doing wrong in teaching science to our children.  Why does their curiosity disappear as they move through the school system?

 

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Shared under a Creative Commons Licence by timuiuc

 

This short clip might shed some light on the issues.

http://swf.tubechop.com/tubechop.swf?vurl=sXpbONjV1Jc&start=431.61&end=492.43&cid=2794897

 

We can ask the very same questions about math.

This short clip addresses part of the problem, but the full video below is well worth your time.
http://swf.tubechop.com/tubechop.swf?vurl=-tFCVa3lCds&start=366.33&end=539.64&cid=3754815

 

 

How will you help our students to make their own mess?

How are you making your own mess?

What strategies take us away from the path to a society of mimics, and down the road to a society of masters, poised to solve our big problems?

 

Do You Believe in Science?

This evening, a friend shared this article about a MP from BC who challenges science while in the House of Commons.

It led to this hilarious video, which really made me think about the pervasive misunderstandings we tolerate in society when it comes to science.

Will today’s children continue to accept a Canadian government that makes major policy decisions based on belief rather than science?

Will they have the solid understanding of science they will need understand the long-term consequences of their actions?

Collaboration: We’ve Arrived!

** Update! We now know that Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) watched our video on the ISS!  How exciting for our students.  Commander Hadfield understands the importance of connections for learning.  His song with Ed Robertson is all about how the world is one place, all interconnected, and the video shows how this is so true.  Student teachers, learning from classrooms around the globe, sharing and connecting.  Chris Hadfield has made powerful connections with students across Canada and his influence is being felt by an entire generation.  Thanks Chris!

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Listen to a #NipRockArt student discuss the project with me, and Cathy Alex on @VoyageNorth CBC Radio 1: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/voyage-north-from-cbc-radio/id548330944

Also available here for now: http://www.cbc.ca/voyagenorth/2013/04/12/space-station-shout-out-for-nipigon-red-rock-hs/

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And back to the original post:

I am so excited tonight to see the finished collaboration my students were recently involved in.

After spending some time with our student teacher from the University of Regina, ECMP455 students wanted to connect all of the great classrooms they had been learning in around the world with a lipdub project.  I sent the idea out and I was thrilled to see two teachers at our school take it on.  They did a fabulous job, and we are excited to share the spotlight with “Daniel and the Atkins”, our Saskatchewan pre-service teacher and his beautiful daughters.

A special thanks goes out to Dean Shareski for coordinating the project and including us.

@colleenkr and her students at 3:12

@kimberniprock and her students at 3:55

Our student teacher, “Daniel and the Atkins” at 4:10

Our part in the chorus at 4:22

Question Everything

In my last posting, I stated a few of the findings in the Hole in the Wall experiments.  The last was that schools need to include a rational system to know what to believe in.

Tonight I read a post by Ira Socol called “Question Everything” that really helps me with my thinking on this one.

In particular, I love this section that so clearly demonstrates the cycle of memorizers getting good grades and becoming teachers:

The teachers can almost always rattle off what is wrong with this projection, including the innate cultural bias attached – the diminuation of the southern hemisphere (Greenland, 1/14th the size of Africa, appears larger than that continent), the Americentric splitting of Asia, et al – but if I ask why this map is important, where it would be valuable, those same educators often freeze.

but will this map help you get home?
 

They know what they’ve “learned” (memorized) about the Mercator Projection, but as generations of U.S. educators never questioned the map which unrolled over the chalkboard, our educators today fail to question the shortcomings of the new maps.

So whether it is homework or due dates, school bells or school desks, or any of the “facts” we tend to put before students. You, them, we all, should be doubting everything, questioning everything.

That process not only builds a real kind of learning unavailable through memorization, it will create a next generation unwilling to accept the mistakes of the past and present.

And to me, that’s what education is about.

– Ira Socol

And maybe then we will be educating citizens who think like scientists, and we won’t need videos like this on climate change: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html