Apology, was Re: A request for a repost from Anders, was Re: extropians-digest V6 #1

From: Michael M. Butler (butler@comp-lib.org)
Date: Wed Jan 03 2001 - 01:23:26 MST

I just re-read the whole thread. I should have read what I wrote a
second time before accusing you of mixing up things. I didn't write as
clearly as I could have. I am sorry.

"Michael M. Butler" wrote:
> I'm sorry, you're mixing up two stories. The story I was telling had
> nothing to do with bacteria, and everything to do with letting kids
> figure out as much as they're able. She didn't have as much trouble with
> the concept of "metaphor" as you seem to be having with the prospect of
> her understanding it.
> Beyond that: I did not make, and will try to avoid making, any comments
> about "average" five-year-olds. I made a happy comment about one five
> year old I know, and another sad comment about a twelve-year-old I know.
> I can't talk about "average" people with any degree of confidence. I
> think labeling people with that broad a description is a bad idea. I got
> labeled "smart", and it gave me problems. I doubt you will learn much
> about real five year olds from talking to me about "average"
> five-year-olds.
> Perhaps, by "average", you meant "most". One size does not fit all. Nor
> does a single "methodology", as typically described. If one can't "go
> meta" with one's methodology, one can always blame the child or the
> teacher. :)
> I am not opposed to doing anything that works. Anders Sandberg (are you
> there, Anders?) wrote a GREAT fable about DNA therapy as a variation on
> Sleeping Beauty. Time for a re-post, maybe?
> But beware--there are big words. Even so, I bet I could tell the story
> to (some, not all) kids and they'd love it until, and beyond, the time
> that they were old enough to understand.
> And, by the way, my name is "Butler" with one "t". Thanks.
> Mihail Faina wrote:
> >
> > I am not trying to assume nothing. My question was more like a
> > "methodology" question - how should we introduce scientific concepts to a 5
> > year old (ordinary 5 year old and I underline ordinary). Should this be hard
> > core scientific facts or something built in a FABLE (I didn't say fairy
> > tales) of some kind? Hard for me to imagine that a 5 year old could picture
> > a bacteria and get
> > the meaning of the word metaphor by using "not really" in the explanation.
> > Using the word doesn't always equal understanding.
> > Again, I am not here to launch a polemic, my goal is to learn even if I
> > disagree.
> >
> > Michael M. Buttler wrote:
> >
> > Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2000 11:30:45 -0800
> > From: "Michael M. Butler" <butler@comp-lib.org>
> > Subject: Re: Subject: Re: Bacteria question.
> >
> > I once saw a couple of "professional educators" simper condescendingly
> > at me as they watched me explain the word "metaphor" to a five year old.
> > They "knew better" than to tell a five year old a word like that.
> >
> > Why was I explaining the word? Because she'd just criticized something
> > I'd said, saying "Not _really_." And I agreed. "No, not _really_,
> > really. They call it a metaphor." "What's _that_?" So I told her. And I
> > told her what the difference between a metaphor and a fib was.
> >
> > She used the word five times within the next week. On her own.
> >
> > On the contrary, I recently used the word on the telephone with a
> > twelve-year-old. Her response was "Don't use such big words; remember,
> > I'm only in *public* school."
> >
> > I hardly think an honest response to a question about bacteria destroys
> > sense of wonder. And I weep for the upbringing of the twelve-year-old.
> >
> > Is an ordinary five-year-old supposed to be told fairy tales when she
> > asks for an explanation about why she's supposed to brush her teeth? Is
> > "tickling her imagination", in this instance, what is called for?
> >
> > Are you assuming too much, perhaps?

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