Contrary to popular opinion, science is not a collection of facts and immutable truths or laws. Rather science is a method of inquiry; a system designed to inch us closer and closer to increasingly accurate understandings of the universe that begat us and to which we belong 100%.
Cool beans! So why isn’t everyone as excited about science? Why wouldn’t like, everyone wants to work with science? Or at least pay attention to it?
The answer to that, in my opinion, has nothing to do with shortcomings of the human brain and everything to do with the shortcomings of the way we look at and teach science and technology.
I take issue with the way science is broken up into different categories and specialties. There are way too many “ologies” going on. And each one has its own words, its own language, and its own nerdy rules of engagement.
You should not have to learn a whole new language, just because you want to understand your world a little bit better. That can come later, in advanced education, should one choose a specialty at that time.
What I am suggesting instead is a radical shift in what and how we conduct our education.
Since science is not a body of facts, and facts are ridiculously easy to find in this smart-phone age, it is clearly more important to teach methods of problem solving than fact memorization. How brains learn and adapt, and especially how YOUR brain learns and adapts, dovetails with the learning of techniques of problem-solving. Now add “centering” techniques to control anxiety and stress and throw in some meditation instruction.
I suggest that fourth grade be devoted to this type of self-understanding curriculum, along with continuous developing of the child’s language and math skills.
The pre-fourth years should focus on instilling inner joy. Joy of learning. Joy of exploring and experiencing, joy of understanding, of reading and music, of math and puzzles and thinking. Joy of living and of being human. Is there anything more important to learn than that?
Skip the lists of facts and dead language nerdiness. Let’s start turning out happy, relaxed brains that know how to function in changing environments –brains that know how to solve issues, to learn and to adapt. Let’s turn out science-friendly lifelong-learner brains that seek to understand how the world operates and how to best live successfully within our ecosystem.
What we need are brains to function as forces for positive change and for our inevitable evolution to a sustainable society. The kind of brains that will turn this mess around.
Larry Plesent is a writer, soap maker, grandfather and business guy living and working in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Learn more at www.vtsoap.com