Society MUST Understand how the Natural World Works

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Society MUST Understand how the Natural World Works

Except for children, few of us spend much time wondering why Nature is the way it is; where the Cosmos came from, or whether it was always here; or whether there are ultimate limits to what humans know. There are even children who want to know what a black hole looks like; why the sky is blue; how does a balloon stay up in the air; what makes the human body work; and why there is a Universe.

I have many opportunities to teach children at various ages and have observed that many of these children are natural born scientists. They have inquisitive little minds filled with curiosity and wonder. Provocative and insightful questions bubble out them with enormous enthusiasm. I am often asked follow-up questions that have the potential to take up the whole day. These children have never heard of the notion of a dumb question.

I find something all together different when talking to middle and high school students. A great deal of them seem to get by by memorizing facts and the joy of discovery that led to those facts has gone out of them. They have lost most of the wonder, and gained little skepticism. This particular age group's main concern is not taking up class time asking dumb questions. They are willing to accept inadequate answers and they don't ask follow-up questions. Many of them are more concerned with the placement of the hands on the clock and when the school bell is going to ring. The middle and high school classrooms are often saturated with indirect glances to judge the approval of their peers. As a graduate student, it is frightening to see the same behavior acted out in upper-level college courses. The negative glances from those who lack respect for learning defi...

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..., drive to learn things and then to exchange the information with others (239).

I understand the natural world to be an absolutely essential tool for any society with a hope of surviving the next century. It is of tremendous importance that we take responsibility as parents and teachers and start generating critical, curious, and imaginative students. The worlds needs and deserves a society with a basic understanding of how the natural world works.

Works Cited

Bishop, J. Thomas. "Enemies of Promise." In the Presence of Others: Voices That Call for Response. Second Edition.

Andrea A. Lundsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. St. Martin's Press. New York, 1997. 26-261. Thomas, Lewis. "The Hazards of Science." In the Presence of Others: Voices That Call for Response. Second Edition.

Andrea A. Lundsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. St. Martin's Press. New York, 1997. 239.

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