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Paul Grobstein's blog

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Evolving science/science education

Several years ago, I wrote an essay on science and science education (Revisiting Science in Culture: Science as Story Telling and Story Revising), partly in response to a student who had heard/read some of my thoughts in class and wrote in 2003 ....

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"Institutional thinking" and "thinking for one's self": finding common ground

In the 27 January 2009 New York Times, columnist David Brooks writes
"I thought it worth devoting a column to institutional thinking because I try to keep a list of the people in public life I admire most. Invariably, the people who make that list have subjugated themselves to their profession, social function or institution."
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Thoughts on Obama's "restore science to its rightful place"

Barack Obama is a serious and committed pragmatist, in the best sense of that word, and I understand his inaugural commitment to "restore science to its rightful place" in exactly those terms. What's important about science is not its certainty about ways to act, but rather its willingness to aggressively acknowledge uncertainty, and so to hold to the fire any presumptions about how to act that derive from any source other than clearly defined and commonly accepted observations to date.

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The self: genes, environment, chance, and ... free will

Steven Pinker's "My Genome, My Self" is a valuable reminder that

as well as a useful summary of the kinds of observations that lead to those conclusions, and wise advice for those who may (or may not) want to know more about their own genes. As Pinker points out, who one is is influenced by genes, but influenced as well by personal experiences, and by chance, so genes are relevant to the question of who one is but not the answer to that question.

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Synecdoche, New York .... and life

Reviewers are all over the map on this one so, for what its worth, my take ...

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Conversation, discourse, exchange, open-ended transactional inquiry

The trick is to focus not on what people can't agree on, nor on what they can agree on, but rather on issues/questions/problems that have the potential to generate ways of thinking that no one has thought before. 

More to come on where that thought came from, and what its useful for .... 

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The rebirth of American pragmatism/non-foundationalism


Barack Obama's speech in Denver, 29 August, 2008, excerpted with annotations
(see Paths to Story Telling as Life)


through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That’s the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.

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More on teaching evolution and evolving humanity

Encouraging article in the NY Times yesterday: "A Teacher on the Front Line as Faith and Science Clash." Yes, there are ways to avoid drawing lines in the sand, to work productively across (even because of) divides.

"I don't expect you to 'believe' the scientific explanation of evolution ... I do expect you to understand it" ... David Campbell, high school teacher, Florida.

" ... there's a difference beween thinking something is interesting and believing it" ... Doug Dougherty, student in Campbell's course.

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Literacy and the Web

Interesting article on the front page of the NYTimes this past Sunday, on the web and the "literacy debate."
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