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Penn Tong's picture

Learning as Children

Bringing in the readings from last weeks , the most interesting thing I found was that a child's mind can be altered simply by being told whether they are capable of doing something or not. Similarly, it is easy to discourage students by telling them that their ideas are wrong.

In my experiences from kindergarten to high school, science has always been black and white, there is no medium. It was a subject where memorization was the key to success. Coming into college, we are expected to do the same. It is not until we do research do we realize that science is much more. We are suddenly expected to make mistakes and to question what we observe.

Students are given the wrong impression of science the moment they start school. I'm not saying teachers should praise students for being wrong, but they should find another approach to make the subject less subjective. Ask questions that don't have an answer so children can discuss the topic without being embarrassed of inserting 'incorrect' ideas or their own personal thoughts. When encouraged to defy the boundaries the educational system has defined, students are able to incorporate their own experiences and beliefs making it a true learning experience.


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