Re: Spreading ideas

Dan Clemmensen (
Sun, 24 May 1998 11:36:18 -0400

> ..... run essay
> contests with secondary school and college students as the target
> audience. .... The Extropy Institute or other
> organizations can get together a reading list and target high school
> students. This might leak into classroom discussion making the
> influence of our ideas even more widespread -- aside from the bonus
> of having them more seriously debate outside our circles.
This might work. My 15-year-old daughter just completed an assignment
on "the ethics of technology." The class divided into groups and
picked technologies. Her group picked nanotechnology. Apparently
everybody had fun and learned a lot.

She goes to an exceptional school, perhaps the best public high
school in the country, but I suspect that a lot of kids would
like to do this. Kirsten's school has a coordinated
english/science/technology curriculum, in which the teachers of
the separate courses coordinate their assignments and grading.
Thus, the assignment was actually in the english class, but
with help from the other two teachers.

The typical teacher is fairly overworked, and may therefore be
resistant to curriculum changes. Your essay idea avoids that
by going directly to the student, but will therefore mostly
reach the motivated student. An alternative is to try to
catch the interest of the teacher. One way to do this might
be to create a complete lesson plan suitable for use
by the teacher to teach a one-class (45-minute) on an
interesting future-oriented topic. You can orient toward the
english class (readings, essay topics, debates) or toward the
science class (nanotech fits nicely in chemistry or physics.)

I've seen complete lesson plans for younger kids on different
topics. The map-reading units at USGS are an example.