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Science and identity: Topic for my essay

gigibarca
Posts: 2
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10/14/2015 4:43:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I am supposed to write an essay for my writing class about science and identity. Here is my enthyeme:

The teaching of science is important for younger student because ______________

I need help finishing this off! At first I wanted to say how the teaching of different sciences like, evolution, creationism, and pseudoscience confuse students as to what to actually believe. But then I started thinking, this is a better option, but I can't finish my statement. I need something that I can write 5 to 6 pages on.
JMcKinley
Posts: 314
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10/14/2015 6:21:56 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Because without both a fundamental knowledge base and a critical thinking skill set, a person is unable to determine fact from fiction in many cases. The more you know, the better you can think. And the better you can think, the harder it is for people to fool you.

This is important not only for dealing with the macro things like religion and politics, but for the micro things such as not being taken in by scammers or those who would otherwise take advantage of your ignorance. For instance the seemingly simple task of planning healthy meals for a family has become very complicated with many products claiming to be the best. With a basic science background you can more easily determine whose claims are valid and whose are not, and you can make better, healthier decisions for yourself and your family.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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10/14/2015 6:40:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 4:43:26 PM, gigibarca wrote:
I am supposed to write an essay for my writing class about science and identity. Here is my enthyeme:

The teaching of science is important for younger student because ______________

Hi Gigi,

Thank you for asking such a great question!

I'm Ruv. I'm 52 years old, I was trained to be a scientist, and in one way or another I've spent my career helping people learn and make better use of knowledge.

My answer to you begins with abig question, which I hope might provoke your interest. In trying to answer that question myself, I've explained my reasoning, and following that reasoning I've offered an answer at the end.

So here's my big question:

What is knowledge? Is it just information we're taught to believe, or is it more than that?

Here's my attempt to answer that:

We spend all our childhood acquiring knowledge, and enter adulthood expecting to use and benefit from the knowledge we've learned, only to discover and rediscover for the rest of our lives that all the knowledge we've learned isn't enough.

How do we know when the knowledge we've learned is good? How do we know when it's enough? When it's not enough, how can we learn more quickly, and how can we be sure that what we've learned is correct and helpful?

Before the development of science, Gigi, we had no coherent answer to these questions. When they didn't know enough, people would make different stuff up, and being people, they argued over who was right. And if you were richer or more powerful than me, then you could say that your opinion mattered more than mine, even if I knew things you didn't. Or if you didn't like my answers, you could say that spirits, or demons or fairies would punish me for speaking up at all. And how could anyone say you were right or wrong?

To try to straighten this mess out, philosophers tried to apply reason. If you're going to argue, they said, at least be coherent. Make your assumptions clear, ensure your conclusions follow your premises, and don't contradict yourself.

That made ideas clearer and more coherent, but it didn't make them true.

Over time, as we developed tools like lenses for seeing the very small and the very distant, and reliable ways of measuring lengths and weights and time, we discovered that details are important. When an apple drops from a tree, it doesn't just fall at a constant rate... it speeds up. Why does it speed up? Until you can observe and measure precisely, you don't notice the details, and the details tell us whether our general ideas are right or wrong, and how right or wrong we are.

Philosophy brought coherence to human thought, but science brought empiricism and rigour.

Empiricism is the approach of seeking to understand the world in terms of processes we can observe. Rigour is to study the details of those processes diligently and meticulously.

How does that change our approach to knowledge?

Modern science seeks to produce knowledge that is:
* evidence-based -- we learn from observation and experiment, not from making stuff up;
* methodical -- we explain exactly how every observation, experiment or calculation was conducted;
* objective -- the thoughts, feelings and hopes of the observer are kept separate from the thing being observed;
* specific -- we measure quantities as precisely as possible, and try to measure our errors too;
* predictive -- when we think we know how something works, we test it with a specific prediction. If our prediction fails, we don't know how it works; and
* honest -- when experiments and calculations don't work, or we don't see what we expect to see, we have to say so, and not hide our errors to try and look more clever and successful than we are.

This approach to knowledge has been enormously successful, Gigi. By producing a reliable approach to knowledge, and an effective approach to technology, it has given us medicine, clean water, hygeinic cities, produced good food reliably, produced a fairer approach to justice. It has improved communications, and brought literacy and numeracy to almost everyone, allowing them to participate in the governing of society and thus helped to produce fairer and kinder societies. It has made travel much easier, and thereby improved trade, cooperation and better understanding of one another. It has helped remove slavery, and racial prejudice; helped to stop women and children from being treated as property. It has helped us understand one another better, and respect one another more, and helped turn our love for one another into better care for one another.

So science is a very big deal -- not just for smart-phones and gadgets, but for enhancing the quality of human life. But all of those achievements depend on brave questions, empirical study, diligent observations, and being honest about when we succeed and fail.

So the answer I'd like to offer you is this:

The teaching of science is important for younger student because it teaches the benefits of learning by careful observation, of paying attention to details, of being methodical, of asking questions bravely, of admitting ignorance and error, and it also teaches an appreciation of the sheer wonder in the world around us.

Good luck with your project, Gigi. I hope this may be useful. If you have other questions, please feel free to poke. :)
Otokage
Posts: 2,347
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10/14/2015 8:40:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/14/2015 4:43:26 PM, gigibarca wrote:
I am supposed to write an essay for my writing class about science and identity. Here is my enthyeme:

The teaching of science is important for younger student because ______________

I need help finishing this off! At first I wanted to say how the teaching of different sciences like, evolution, creationism, and pseudoscience confuse students as to what to actually believe. But then I started thinking, this is a better option, but I can't finish my statement. I need something that I can write 5 to 6 pages on.

Hi gigi!

I'm a biology teacher, and although I often teach slighly younger students than you, I believe I can help you a little bit with this essay of yours.

Since Ruv has always given you what is, imo, a very good personal answer, I will try to add something from the institutional point of view since you have a lot to write. Why is it important for young people to learn science from the government perspective? The Ministry of Education of my country, and probably that of almost any European country, determine that it is important that students learn science because it develops the capacities of:

On a broad sense:
-Hypothesyze, meaning imagining multiple possible causes for observable events.
-Testing, meaning to come up with ways of determining if hypothesis are true or false.
-Produce, interpret and represent both qualitative and quantitative data.

On a more specific sense:
-Interaction with the physical world through the deep understanding of its events, and the prediction of their consequences.
-Improvement and preservation of the optimal conditions for life, both for our wellbeing and for the wellbeing of other organisms.
-Creating and assimilating knowledge with autonomy.
-Understanding concepts related to health, environment, productive activities like agriculture, technological processes, etc.
-Responsible consume.
-Responsible interaction with the environment, both at a little scale (ie responsible behaviour in a forest or a beach) and at a big scale (ie reducing your contribution to global warming).
-Valuing science itself and the benefits of promulgating scientific thinking among other members of society.
-Reasoning the consequences of following healthy or unhealthy lifestyles.
-Reach conclussions based on evidences.
-Identify problems and approach them from a systemic perspective (that is, approaching in a broad sense, seeing the bigger picture, not getting locked into that which is too concrete and/or of little relevance)
-Communicating properly on scientific/academic contexts.
-Recognizing the historical value of research for humankind.

Hope it helps. I'm sure you are almost there!