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 - 00:28:22 MST

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"

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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