Friday, February 11, 2011
I don't know why I'm posting all this stuff about my students. I guess it's cause I care about them and their success, but they're also in some ways sadly funny. Today I was talking about critical thinking. I kinda break that down into two components: paying attention to your senses, and asking questions. I had them go outside and record every sensory impression they could for about ten minutes. When they came back the thing they kept talking about was that it was cold outside. So first we talked about describing that in sensory ways, which they did pretty good at. Then I asked them why. They said why what. I said why's it cold. They said cause it's winter. I said why's it winter. They said cause it's a season. I said what's a season and why do we have them. It took them a long time to think about that, but eventually they got saying because the Earth turns on an axis. I said yes that makes night and day for us on the planet but what makes seasons? One student yelled because god made it that way. I said okay but is there a more direct reason what if someone in the class doesn't believe in god that doesn't answer the question for them. The idea that someone wouldn't believe in god was weird to them but they got past it. Finally we got to that the earth wobbles on its axis, and right now that wobble has angled the planet so that sunlight does not hit north america as directly as it does, say, Chile right now where it's summer. They all agreed that that sounded right. I said why. They said why what. I said why does Earth wobble on its axis. Now they were really stumped. So I said that about four billion years ago before Earth solidified another forming planet about the size of mars slammed into what would become our planet, and this cataclysm caused axial tilt and created our moon and that without this violent moment in Earth's early history life would not be possible. They said why would you believe that and not the bible. Then I laughed.