Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Teaching the Controversy

The Kansas decision to teach Intelligent Design and redefine science has been roundly and deservedly mocked in the blogs. I must be contrarian though (if only to stake out a little bit of intellectual territory for myself). I'm guessing the kids in Kansas will end up learning more about evolution than kids in an average school in an averagely sane state. The reason is all the attention the issue and contrvoersy is receiving. I have always been attracted to the learning-by-arguing method. Learning about a battle is more interesting than being told facts. And there always is a battle, at least historically. Science is all about having the battles, settling them, and then moving on. When it's taught, usually the battle part is left out, the history is a byproduct for the historians to chew on if they must. Who has time to cover phlogistion and N-rays?

Still, I persist in holding to a constructionist ideal of education. The goal should be not to pour knowledge into kids heads, but to train them in thinking skills. From this standpoint, a controversy is an entry into the field, a chance to explore a variety of points of view, a "teachable moment".

Of course, it's possible to take this idea too far.

Actually I have to give Giblets the last word on this issue.

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