Why is everyone so ignorant?

Status
Not open for further replies.
I

i_i_e

Guest
It's a serious question. Growing up in the 60's we learned a lot about science and even astronomy. Sure, we didn't know the chemical composition of Jupiter's atmosphere, but we knew the basics, we could answer questions like:<br /><i><br />How many planets are there? What are their Names?<br /><br />If you draw a scale model of the solar system, show the relative sizes of the planets and their relative distances from the sun.<br /><br />Explain what causes the phases of the moon.<br /></i><br /><br />But in discussing science with teen and preteen kids over the past 2 months (I am now helping with an "after school" program - really should not call it that since it's busiest in the summer, anyway...) I have noticed that kids really don't know anything about astronomy or even "solar system-ology".<br /><br />And these aren't kids getting poor grades, either!!! What are they being taught? I'd get political if I continued, but let me say that they simply aren't being taught science. <br /><br />I will also add that I am in a relatively small (40,000) city in the "flyover" area of the country
 
I

i_i_e

Guest
I guess discussing this will turn political. So let's change the question to:<br /><br />"What can average people, who care about science and science education (like you and me!) do to change this?"<br /><br />And don't tell me that it all starts in my home, my kids are grown and gone - that's why I started to help with this program.<br />
 
I

i_i_e

Guest
I like your answer - you laid it all on the parents!<br /><br />My kids picked up a lot of interest in science from me. And the house always had books in it (we even went for a time without TV, lighting hit it and I could not afford to replace it. After a time, the kids didn't even care!)<br /><br />
 
L

larper

Guest
While I agree that the parents can do A LOT to help a child understand anything, including science, I don't think it is the only answer. <br /><br />My parents were not scientific. But, they did encourage reading in general. I read a lot as a kid, mostly Hardy Boys and such. Never thought about a career in the sciences. <br /><br />Then, one day I picked up one of my brother's SciFi books (War Against the Rull, A. E. Van Vogt). I started to read SciFi almost exclusively, and that is what fostered my interest in science. Besides, I was just naturally good at math, and so I excelled in the sciences anyway. You tend to like what you can do best.<br /><br />The REAL advantage my parents gave me was not DISCOURAGING me in anything. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong><font color="#ff0000">Vote </font><font color="#3366ff">Libertarian</font></strong></p> </div>
 
J

jcdenton

Guest
I think you'll find this ignorance evident even among some extremely educated adults amazingly enough. Take my dad for instance, who's a professor in engineering, yet he can't even name all 9 planets and doesn't even know what nebulas or galaxies are. He also finds watching golf more interesting than news coverage about the Cassini-Huygens mission. My mom, who's a pathologist, finds the possibility of life beyond Earth uninteresting and irrelevant. Both can't fathom why I have such an interest in so "boring" a topic. I know I can't generalize, but I've met plenty of people with the same apathetic attitude towards space. Their interests are so completely centred around that which immediately affects them and not esoteric questions about the universe. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
C

CalliArcale

Guest
<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>- limit children's time pursuing useless activities such as watching (non-educational) TV or playing video games <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Bear in mind, there are some good educational video games that aren't hoplessly lame. A few years ago, I picked up a point-and-click puzzle/adventure game (y'know, kinda like Myst) called Bioscopia in the discount aisle at Microcenter. I enjoyed it greatly; a good balance between story and non-linear exploration. The interesting part was that it was intended as an educational game. And it did have a lot of education in it. Clues were found in books on anatomy and biology and astronomy and such, generally in ways relevant to the puzzle. It was a surprise to see a game put in the educational element so deftly that it didn't seem even remotely forced. I'd like to see more games like that. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />Ignorance is a major problem. It always has been, it always will be. Parental involvement is the best antidote, but unfortunately we can only control that with respect to our own children. That doesn't really solve the larger problem, and I'm not sure what the answer is. Here in Minnesota, there was a disastrous effort to encourage more parental involvement called the Profile of Learning. Kids were given tasks requiring parental involvement. Unfortunately, they tended to be pretty lousy tasks -- the people who designed the Profile weren't especially well educated themselves, and science was clearly not one of their preferred topics. They gave high school students useless tasks like building edible models of cells. I am not making that up; my little brother actually had to build an edible model of a cell. That had more impact on his graduation than whether or not he knew was the Golgi Apparatus does. Anyway, the plan backfired. The only kids who did well were those who already had a high degree of parental involvement; the par <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
C

cyrostir

Guest
in Kindergarden I remember learning the names of the planets...but that was the last time I remember learning anything about space<br /><br />my Bible teacher/cross country coach is an astronomy buff though, so I get a lot of cool teachings from him
 
S

Saiph

Guest
when asked a question you don't know the answer too...look it up. Better yet, look it up with your child! Teach them how to look for answers.<br /><br />Always ask the kids "Why?" When they say the sky is blue...ask why? Always ask more questions. Teaching someone that there are often more questions arising for every answer is a boon.<br /><br />As for what schools can do:<br /><br />First, stop teaching the exact same curriculum year after year (math actually does a good job of this). I learned about the pilgrims and indians (the woefully erroneous version as well) almost every year. Teach history, but all of it, Cover africa, europe, a different continent every year.<br /><br />Teach kids to think about what they read, no matter the subject, instead of regurgitating plot items in book reports.<br /><br />Science should <i>not</i> be a minor once a week class in elementary. Various aspects should be worked into almost any curriculum, even if it's just the approach (i.e. critical thinking).<br /><br />Curriculum should find ways to <i>apply</i> the knowledge they gain. It definetly helps make it stick.<br /><br />I.e. schools need to design a cohesive and in depth program that builds upon previous years. If they have problems with new transfer students being in over their heads it means they're doing a good job, and should work on ways to help bring them up to speed. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
H

heyscottie

Guest
I take out my telescope whenever there are people around, and promise to show them a few sights. While focusing in on double stars, nebulae, galaxies, etc, I drop all kinds of information about relative distances, what is causing what they see, etc. This always leads to questions that *I* think are basic, but that these people generally have no idea about.<br /><br />Some things that people are generally surprised about:<br /><br />1) Our sun is just a star, or equivalently, all the stars we see are like the sun. (I can't believe that people are surprised at this, but MANY are).<br /><br />2) The closest stars are farther than the farthest planets.<br /><br />3) All the stars we can see are in our galaxy.<br /><br />4) Other galaxies are not in our galaxy.<br /><br />5) Stars can orbit one another (I always show Alcor/Mizar and Alberio)<br /><br />6) The North Star is not the brightest star.<br /><br />7) The night sky appears to rotate around the North Star in the course of a night.<br /><br />8) The moon's phases are NOT caused by the Earth's shadow.<br /><br />9) Mercury and Venus have phases.<br /><br />10) Black holes are not giant "sucking" machines.<br /><br />11) Stars shine due to nuclear fusion.<br /><br />These are just a few of the simpler ones.<br /><br />When bringing some of these points to light, it's quite amazing some of the more insightful physics questions that get asked. These people are not generally stupid, but, as the original poster correctly stated, ignorant. If I can hold attention by showing a couple of interesting sights, I can teach a LOT in a short amount of time.<br /><br />At least it's a start!<br />
 
A

alienhunter

Guest
Really good answers all of them.<br /><br />"make sure they have a library card...make sure they use it"<br /><br />And follow them to the library, help them learn what the library can do for them.<br /><br />"make sure the house is well-stocked with books on scientific topics"<br /><br />When I was a kid almost all books where boring, text only and not so well written. Today the books are much better, I buy books all the time even if I know I won't read them all.<br /><br />"I like your answer - you laid it all on the parents!"<br />"if a kid asks a question about science you don't know the answer to, look it up, educate yourself, and pass it on to the child"<br /><br />Yes, most important, be helpful when they want to explore something, anything! Kids are curious and natural explorers, encourage that. Don't be embarrassed if you don't know the answer, the most important thing to know is how/where to find knowledge. Internet is good but guidance is necessary. Why not make one of their questions an assignment, write it down, make them find the answers themselves then read through what they found out and give them a reward. The assignments can then be saved to a collection they can go back to later (ok my girlfriend is a teacher...).<br /><br />"expose them to science with field trips to museums, planetariums"<br /><br />This is the best thing about having kids, you can re-explore a lot yourself. My kid is to young to enjoy the museums but I have already taken him to the most interesting places, can't wait until the next round.<br /><br />"nurture a budding interest and steer them into activities that will develop it"<br /><br />If the parents to your kids best friends think watching tv is more important, maybe you can work on those kids and parents? Also, if you want to keep a good set of books, magnifiers, microscope and stuff available at home why not check with other parents so you don't all buy the same things?<br /><br />"You are all giving the reasons that you should get out and do
 
L

lunatio_gordin

Guest
Don't blame Video games. I played for 6 hours today and I know all this stuff <img src="/images/icons/tongue.gif" /><br />Seriously, No one cares about science anymore. Sad but true. So, you have to get them when they're younger. As i've noted in my school experience thus far, They teach you to X point in first grade, and no more. When i was in Second grade, my teacher said,<br />"0 is the smallest number. You can't have less than Zero."<br />When i asked about negative numbers, she brushed me aside. A few years later, was i surprised to find out that i was RIGHT all along? some other examples: can't subtract a larger number from a smaller number, can't divide by a bigger number, etc. They constantly go, "SURPRISE! we lied!" and it sorts of leads you to give up trying to understand, since they're pulling a 180 on you every year.<br />Teach young children more science. that's my point.
 
Y

yevaud

Guest
There was a time when we studied topics in school, whether or not we liked it. And, if we deserved an "F," we by God got it.<br /><br />Not nowadays. Our educators are petrified of actually flunking a kid, the level of what is taught has decreased, and even classes we'd find familiar are long gone.<br /><br />All they're being taught nowadays is the bare minimum, coupled with unreasonable expectations of how they will do in the real world. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
S

Saiph

Guest
Dealing with such questions is hard, especially on easily confused mindsets of younger children.<br /><br />In an ideal world, the teacher would be able to say: That's right timmy, there are a special set of numbers called negative numbers, and they follow different rules. For now, we'll concentrate on "natural" numbers, starting at 0, the smallest, and going on up.<br /><br />Then you take the timmy aside and ask him what he knows, correct any mistakes, maybe push him a bit, but emphasize the need to understand the current topic (if timmy does, great, push him more).<br /><br />In higher level classes (around highschool) I have no problems telling students that what I say (when it is) is a simplification, and point out that there are many basic things to be learned by doing this, that are best understood before getting into the complicated issues. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
S

Saiph

Guest
I'll second that Yevaud. Looking back at my highschool education (not to distant for me), I feel jipped, despite (and partially because of) my ability to take "differentiated" or "advanced placement" classes. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
Y

yevaud

Guest
Understood.<br /><br />I was just reflecting how...different it is nowadays. I have friend's who are educators, and they pull their hair out by the roots. They teach topical, half-assed subjects, and they know it.<br /><br />Ahh. This is an entire thread, unto itself. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
T

telfrow

Guest
<font color="yellow">They teach topical, half-assed subjects, and they know it.</font><br /><br /><i>Amen.</i> <br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <strong><font color="#3366ff">Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yeild.</font> - <font color="#3366ff"><em>Tennyson</em></font></strong> </div>
 
S

Saiph

Guest
yeah, that's actually the worst part. The teacher's know whats happening (for the most part) but due to school politics and required curriculum...they can't do anything about it. <br /><br />and I also hate, absolutely hate, the fact that teachers don't give F's anymore (unless there is absolutely no way around it, sometimes even then...). I think it's actually a disservice to the student. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
Y

yevaud

Guest
I agree.<br /><br />But (Tel, you worked in the industry - you can vouch for / deny this) I have heard the argument that broadly goes, "we can't crush Timmy's fragile ego. Therefore we can't actually give him a failing grade."<br /><br />Much bad progresses from that, if multiplied hundreds of thousand's of times. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
T

telfrow

Guest
<font color="yellow">"we can't crush Timmy's fragile ego. Therefore we can't actually give him a failing grade."</font><br /><br />A lot of administrators and school officials feel that way. Good teachers don't - at least at first. But after beating your head against the wall - arguing you are cheating the students by automatically passing them - you either give up or leave. I left. <br /><br />I tried to "spice up" my American history classes once by adding a section on Women in History - to balance the presentation and offer something of interest to female students, who usually find the subject boring (and rightfully so - it is, in large part, written by men, for men and about men). I was nearly fired. It was "outside" the "acceptable" curriculum.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <strong><font color="#3366ff">Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yeild.</font> - <font color="#3366ff"><em>Tennyson</em></font></strong> </div>
 
Y

yevaud

Guest
Frankly, I understand. I also left an industry once out of sheer disgust (story another time, surely).<br /><br />I recollect that Robert A. Heinlein once commented on this. He stated that his grade school / high school education was superior to that of the child of the 50's/60's. And that the education of his parent't generation was once superior to his own.<br /><br />Which leads you to wonder, what will the curricula of the year 2100 be? Remembering to breathe, and don't drool 101?<br /><br />What happened to Civics, Home Ec., Gym, Wood Shop?<br /><br />*Blah* <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
T

telfrow

Guest
Unfortunately, many good people leave out of sheer frustration. <br /><br />I regret it sometimes. I was in it for the kids...and, sometimes, you could inspire someone, help someone - make a [small] difference. But the frustration and restrictions drive you to the brink of sanity... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <strong><font color="#3366ff">Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yeild.</font> - <font color="#3366ff"><em>Tennyson</em></font></strong> </div>
 
Y

yevaud

Guest
Medical Electronics could be like that too. You get home at the end of the day, and say, "I did something worthwhile" today. And then collapse into mental numbness from all of the bureaucracy. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
S

spaceinator

Guest
I definately think they should have more advanced science classes in schools... AP is a good idea, but more small schools need to offer them. For example, my physics class senior year was not required but the teacher still taught it at the level of the the art/music students who stopped math after algebra2, and using non-mathematical examples whenever possible...
 
S

Saiph

Guest
Outside the acceptable curriculum...geesh.<br /><br />If you a) covered the required material and b) taught valid material they should just shut up. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

Latest posts