Archive for the '[Education&Careers]' category

The future of higher education, according to the rumor mill.

I'm getting this third-hand, and I'm always cautious about predictions of future events, but here's someone's vision of higher education yet-to-come:

  1. Professors will totally need to incorporate online elements, especially social media elements, into their courses if they are to have a prayer of engaging their students.
  2. They will also need to get students to accept the idea that since the jobs are being outsourced to other countries, they (the students) will need to be ready to move to those countries. (No word on whether students are to be prepared for the prevailing wages in those countries, or on whether those countries are likely to welcome our students as job-seeking immigrants.)
  3. The end of new tenure track faculty.

Excuse me, but I was promised a zombie apocalypse.

22 responses so far

Punishment, redemption, and celebrity status: still more on the Hauser case.

Yesterday in the New York Times, Nicholas Wade wrote another article about the Marc Hauser scientific misconduct and its likely fallout. The article didn't present much in the way of new facts, as far as I could tell, but I found this part interesting:

Some forms of scientific error, like poor record keeping or even mistaken results, are forgivable, but fabrication of data, if such a charge were to be proved against Dr. Hauser, is usually followed by expulsion from the scientific community.

“There is a difference between breaking the rules and breaking the most sacred of all rules,” said Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia. The failure to have performed a reported control experiment would be “a very serious and perhaps unforgivable offense,” Dr. Haidt said.

Dr. Hauser’s case is unusual, however, because of his substantial contributions to the fields of animal cognition and the basis of morality. Dr. [Gerry] Altmann [editor of the journal Cognition] held out the possibility of redemption. “If he were to give a full and frank account of the errors he made, then the process can start of repatriating him into the community in some form,” he said.

I'm curious what you all think about this.

Do you feel that some of the rules of scientific conduct are more sacred than others? That some flavors of scientific misconduct are more forgivable than others? That a scientist who has made "substantial contributions" in his or her field of study might be entitled to more forgiveness for scientific misconduct than your typical scientific plodder?

I think these questions touch on the broader question of whether the tribe of science (or the general public putting up the money to support scientific research) believes rehabilitation is possible for those caught in scientific misdeeds. (This is something we've discussed before in the context of why members of the tribe of science might be inclined to let "youthful offenders" slide by with a warning rather than exposing them to punishments that are viewed as draconian.)

But the Hauser case adds an element to this question. What should we make of the case where the superstar is caught cheating? How should we weigh the violation of trust against the positive contribution this researcher has made to the body of scientific knowledge? Can we continue to trust that his or her positive contribution to that body of knowledge was an actual contribution, or ought we to subject it to extra scrutiny on account of the cheating for which we have evidence? Are we forced to reexamine the extra credence we may have been granting the superstar's research on account of that superstar status?

And, in a field of endeavor that strives for objectivity, are we really OK with the suggestion that members of the tribe of science who achieve a certain status should be held to different rules than those by which everyone else in the tribe is expected to play?

29 responses so far

Start-of-semester paradox.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that the California State University system, of which my fair campus is a part, is in the throes of a budgetpocalypse. The state of California just can't put up the money it used to put up to support the educational mission we are charged to uphold, and one immediate strategy the system has taken to deal with dramatically reduced state contribution is to shrink our enrollments.

I recognize that this seems counterintuitive -- you'd think more enrolled students would mean more tuition dollars coming in, which would bean more money available to pay for stuff like instructors and electricity in the classrooms and so forth. However, even with steadily increasing "student fees" (our euphemism for tuition in a university system which was set up to be tuition-free), the amount of money the students are putting up comes nowhere near the actual costs of educating those students. The money from the state is essential to even approaching those costs, so when the money from the states is reduced, it means we can't enroll as many students. (My understanding is that this has jacked up the demand at the community colleges significantly, but I haven't seen actual numbers on this.)

Anyway, from a faculty-eye view, the immediate impact of slashed enrollments was a first week of classes during which ... it didn't quite feel like the first week of classes on campus. There was not a line of traffic several blocks long to get into the parking structure. The sidewalks in most parts of the campus were not so congested with new and returning students as to be practically unnavigable. It was not practically impossible to grab a quick bite at the main campus eatery in a 15 minute window before noon.

However, from within my classrooms, you'd get the impression that enrollments have skyrocketed. I have had many more people asking for add codes (and many more students sitting on the floor or standing through the first class meeting) than in any semester I can recall here. I'm still waiting to see what the official policy ruling will be on how many students I'm allowed to add (since going over enrollment targets can lead to punishment of departments that do so).

I guess I'll try to appreciate how much less time it takes to park, even if I end up having to use the time I've saved (and more) grading a larger stack of student papers.

3 responses so far

Start-of-semester mad dash.

Well, summer sure ended quickly (although suddenly the weather is downright summery -- thanks, irony!). Less than 48 hours from the beginning of classes, my to-do list looks something like this:

  • Update syllabus for the "Philosophy of Science" class I've taught for several semesters.
  • Update web pages for that "Philosophy of Science" class.
  • Set up materials in Desire2Learn* shells for the two sections of that "Philosophy of Science" class that I'm teaching this term.
  • Finish writing syllabus for the "Logic and Critical Reasoning" course I'm teaching for the first time this semester.
  • Create web pages for "Logic and Critical Reasoning".
  • Set up materials in Desire2Learn shell for my section of "Logic and Critical Reasoning."
  • Update my homepage (primarily to reflect/link to courses I'm teaching this term and to list my current office hours).
  • Find out what the heck my college's official policy on add codes is this semester, the better to inform the throngs of people turning up wanting to add my courses what (if anything) I can do for them.
  • Verify that textbooks are actually available in the campus book store (and not mislabeled and/or mis-shelved).
  • Verify that necessary classroom equipment is functional in my classrooms.
  • For each of my courses, create 1-page handout giving overview of course requirements and URLs for detailed syllabi, assignments, etc.
  • Make offerings to the deity that controls department photocopier in order that I may successfully photocopy the 1-page handout for each of my courses.
  • Put in request for the courses I'd like to teach spring semester.
  • Try really, really hard to dodge any new committee assignments.
  • Brace self for inevitable unpleasantness of the details about what else needs to be cut this semester in light of the fact that the budget assumed a 10% increase in student fees** and that student fees actually only increased by 5%.***
  • Bring a sweatshirt to office, which seems at present to be a full 30 oF colder than the ambient temperature outside. (Bring thermometer to office, to track meat-locker-like temperatures in which it seems I'm expected to work.)

By the way, these are just the items requiring the most urgent attention -- the full to-do list is much longer.

We'll see what I can get done before the last minute has passed.
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*Desire2Learn is a course management system, like Blackboard or WebCT (which Blackboard bought and assimilated). My university adopted it because it seems to do better on accessibility issues (like making content easy to navigate for students with visual impairments with a screen reader).

**In the California State University system, of which my university is a part, "student fees" is the euphemism for tuition. Tuition is spoken of euphemistically because until the early 1990s there wasn't any. Now there is, and it seems to increase substantially every term.

***That 5% increase, however, is enough to make life really hard for a lot of our students.

4 responses so far

Harvard Dean sheds (a little) more light on Hauser misconduct case.

Today ScienceInsider gave an update on the Marc Hauser misconduct case, one that seems to support the accounts of other researchers in the Hauser lab. From ScienceInsider:

In an e-mail sent earlier today to Harvard University faculty members, Michael Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), confirms that cognitive scientist Marc Hauser "was found solely responsible, after a thorough investigation by a faculty member investigating committee, for eight instances of scientific misconduct under FAS standards."

ScienceInsider reprints the Dean's email in its entirety. Here's the characterization of the nature of Hauser's misconduct from that email:

Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: please stand by.

Dr. Free-Ride is pinned down in committee meetings for a while.

There will be a conversation with the Free-Ride offspring posted later today. In the meantime, here are whiteboard traces of a science-y conversation the sprogs had recently with Dr. Free-Ride's better half.

On our whiteboard

Yeah, I find the "sand" thing worrisome, too.

2 responses so far

The value of (unrealistic) case studies in ethics education.

Dr. Isis posted a case study about a postdoc's departure from approved practices and invited her readers to discuss it. DrugMonkey responded by decrying the ridiculousness of case studies far more black and white than what scientists encounter in real life:

This is like one of those academic misconduct cases where they say “The PI violates the confidence of review, steals research ideas that are totally inconsistent with anything she’d been doing before, sat on the paper review unfairly, called the editor to badmouth the person who she was scooping and then faked up the data in support anyway. Oh, and did we mention she kicked her cat?”.

This is the typical and useless fare at the ethical training course. Obvious, overwhelmingly clear cases in which the black hats and white hats are in full display and provide a perfect correlation with malfeasance.

The real world is messier and I think that if we are to make any advances in dealing with the real problems, the real cases of misconduct and the real cases of dodgy animal use in research, we need to cover more realistic scenarios.

I'm sympathetic to DrugMonkey's multiple complaints: that real life is almost always more complicated than the canned case study; that hardly anyone puts in the years of study and training to become a scientist if her actual career objective is to be a super-villain; and especially that the most useful sort of ethics training for the scientist will be in day to day conversation with scientific mentors and colleagues rather than in isolated ethics courses, training modules, or workshops.

However, used properly, I think that case studies -- even unrealistic ones -- play a valuable role in ethics education.

Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Building a critical reasoning course: getting started with the external constraints.

My Fall semester is rapidly approaching and I am still in the throes of preparing to teach a course I have never taught before. The course is called "Logic and Critical Reasoning." Here's the catalog description of the course:

Basic concepts of logic; goals and standards of both deductive and inductive reasoning; techniques of argument analysis and assessment; evaluation of evidence; language and definition; fallacies.

The course involves some amount of symbolic logic (and truth-tables and that good stuff) but also a lot of attention to argumentation "in the wild", in the written and spoken word. My department usually teaches multiple sections of the course each semester, but it's not the case that we all march in lockstep with identical textbooks, syllabi, and assignments.

The downside of academic freedom, when applied to teaching a course like this, is that you have to figure out your own plan.

Nonetheless, since critical reasoning is the kind of thing I think we need more of in the world, I'm excited about having the opportunity to teach the course. And, at Tom Levenson's suggestion, I'm going to blog the process of planning the course. Perhaps you all will have some suggestions for me as I work through it.

Part of why my department offers multiple sections of "Logic and Critical Reasoning" is that it fulfills a lower-division general education (G.E.) requirement. In other words, there's substantial student demand for courses that fulfill this requirement.

For this course to fulfill the G.E. requirement, of course, it has to meet certain pedagogical goals or "learning objectives". So, where I need to start in planning this course is with the written-and-approved-by-committee learning objectives and content requirements:

Course Goals and Student Learning Objectives
“Logic and Critical Reasoning” is designed to meet the G.E. learning objectives for Area A3.

A.
Critical thinking courses help students learn to recognize, analyze, evaluate, and engage in effective reasoning.

B.
Students will demonstrate, orally and in writing, proficiency in the course goals. Development of the following competencies will result in dispositions or habits of intellectual autonomy, appreciation of different worldviews, courage and perseverance in inquiry, and commitment to employ analytical reasoning. Students should be able to:

  1. distinguish between reasoning (e.g., explanation, argument) and other types of discourse (e.g., description, assertion);
  2. identify, analyze, and evaluate different types of reasoning;
  3. find and state crucial unstated assumptions in reasoning;
  4. evaluate factual claims or statements used in reasoning, and evaluate the sources of evidence for such claims;
  5. demonstrate an understanding of what constitutes plagiarism;
  6. evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system;
  7. locate, retrieve, organize, analyze, synthesize, and communicate information of relevance to the subject matter of the course in an effective and efficient manner; and
  8. reflect on past successes, failures, and alternative strategies.

C.

  • Students will analyze, evaluate, and construct their own arguments or position papers about issues of diversity such as gender, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
  • Reasoning about other issues appropriate to the subject matter of the course shall also be presented, analyzed, evaluated, and constructed.
  • All critical thinking classes should teach formal and informal methods for determining the validity of deductive reasoning and the strength of inductive reasoning, including a consideration of common fallacies in inductive and deductive reasoning. ... “Formal methods for determining the validity of deductive arguments” refers to techniques that focus on patterns of reasoning rather than content. While all deductive arguments claim to be valid, not all of them are valid. Students should know what formal methods are available for determining which are which. Such methods include, but are not limited to, the use of Venn’s diagrams for determining validity of categorical reasoning, the methods of truth tables, truth trees, and formal deduction for reasoning which depends on truth functional structure, and analogous methods for evaluating reasoning which may be valid due to quantificational form. These methods are explained in standard logic texts. We would also like to make clear that the request for evidence that formal methods are being taught is not a request that any particular technique be taught, but that some method of assessing formal validity be included in course content.
  • Courses shall require the use of qualitative reasoning skills in oral and written assignments. Substantial writing assignments are to be integrated with critical thinking instruction. Writing will lead to the production of argumentative essays, with a minimum of 3000 words required. Students shall receive frequent evaluations from the instructor. Evaluative comments must be substantive, addressing the quality and form of writing.

This way of describing the course, I reckon, is not the best way to convince my students that it's a course they're going to want to be taking. My big task, therefore, is to plan course material and assignments that accomplish these goals while also striking the students as interesting, relevant, and plausibly do-able. In addition, I want to plan assignments that give the students enough practice and feedback but that don't overwhelm me with grading. (The budget is still in very bad shape, so I have no expectation that there will be money to hire a grader.)

I have some ideas percolating here, which I will blog about soon. One of them is to use the blogosphere as a source of arguments (and things-that-look-like-arguments-but-aren't) for analysis. I'm thinking, though, that I'll need to set some good ground rules in advance.

Do these learning objectives and content requirements seem to you to call out for particular types of homework assignments or mini-lecture? If you had to skin this particular pedagogical cat, where would you start?

19 responses so far

Professionalism, pragmatism, and the Hippocratic Oath.

In a recent post about a study of plagiarism in the personal statements of applicants for medical residency programs, the issue of professionalism reared its head. The authors of that study identified plagiarism in these application essays as a breach of professionalism, and one likely to be a harbinger of more such breaches as the applicant’s medical career progressed. Moreover, the authors noted that:

increasing public scrutiny of physicians’ ethical behavior is likely to put pressure on training programs to enforce strict rules of conduct, beginning with the application process.

I think it’s worth taking a closer look at what “professionalism” encompasses and at why it would be important to a professional community (like the professional community of physicians). To do this, let’s go way back to an era where physicians were working very hard to distinguish themselves from some of the other thinkers and purveyors of services in the public square – the time when the physicians known as the Hippocratics were flourishing in ancient Greece.

These physicians were working to make medicine a more scientific practice. They sought not just ways to heal, but an understanding of why these treatments were effective (and of how the bodies they were treating worked). But another big part of what the Hippocratics were trying to do involved establishing standards to professionalize their healing practices – and trying to establish a public reputation that would leave the public with a good opinion of learned medicine. After all, they weren’t necessarily pursuing medical knowledge for its own sake, but because they wanted to use it to help patients (and to make a living from providing these services). However, getting patients depended on being judged trustworthy by the people who might need treatment.

Professionalism, in other words, had to do not only with the relationship between members of the professional community but also with the relationship between that professional community and the larger society in which it was embedded.

The physicians in this group we’re calling the Hippocratics left a number of writings, including a statement of their responsibilities called “The Oath”. It’s worth noting that the Hippocratic corpus contains a diversity of works that reflect some significant differences of opinion among the physicians in this community – including some works (on abortion and surgery, for example) that seem to contradict some of the specific claims of “The Oath”. Still, “The Oath” gives us pretty good insight into the kind of concerns that would motivate a community of practitioners who were trying to professionalize.

We’re going to look at “The Oath” in its entirety, with my commentary interspersed. I’m using the translation of by J. Chadwick in Hippocratic Writings, edited by G.E.R. Lloyd.

I swear by Apollo the healer, by Aesculapius, by Health and all the powers of healing, and call to witness all the gods and goddesses that I may keep this Oath and Promise to the best of my ability and judgment.

In other words, it’s a serious oath.

I will pay the same respect to my master in the Science as to my parents and share my life with him and pay all my debts to him. I will regard his sons as my brothers and teach them the Science, if they desire to learn it, without fee or contract.

This is a recognition of the physician’s debt to professional community, those who taught him. It’s also a recognition of his duty to educate next generation of the profession.

I will hand on precepts, lectures and all other learning to my sons, to those of my master and to those pupils duly apprenticed and sworn, and to none other.

This part is all about keeping trade secrets secret. The assumption was that learned medicine involved knowledge that should not be shared with everyone, especially because a lot of people wouldn’t have the wisdom or intelligence or good character to use it appropriately. Also, given that these physicians wanted to be able to earn a living from their healing practices, they needed to keep something of a monopoly on this knowledge.

I will use my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment; I will abstain from harming or wronging any man by it.

Here’s the recognition of the physician’s duty to his patients, the well-known commitment to do no harm. Obviously, this commitment is in the patients’ interests, but it’s also tied to the reputation of the professional community. Maintaining good stats, as it were, by not doing any harm should be expected to raise the community’s opinion of the profession of learned medicine.

I will not give a fatal draught to anyone if I am asked, nor will I suggest any such thing. Neither will I give a woman means to procure an abortion.

These two sentences forbid the physician’s participation in euthanasia or abortion. Note, however, that other writings in the Hippocratic corpus indicate that physicians in this tradition did participate in such procedures. Maybe this was a matter of local variations in what the physicians (and the public they served) found acceptable. Maybe there was a healthy debate among the Hippocratics about these practices.

I will be chaste and religious in my life and in my practice.

This part basically calls upon the physician to conduct himself as a good person. After all, the reputation of whole profession would be connected, at least in the public’s view, to the reputation of individual practitioners.

I will not cut, even for the stone, but I will leave such procedures to the practitioners of that craft.

Cutting was the turf of surgeons, not physicians. Here, too, there are other writings in the Hippocratic corpus that indicate that physicians in this tradition did some surgery. However, before the germ theory of disease or the discovery of antibiotics, you might imagine that performing surgery could lead to a lot of complications, running afoul of the precept to do no harm. Again, that was going to hurt the professional community’s stats, so it seemed reasonable just to leave it to the surgeons and let them worry about maintaining their own reputation.

Whenever I go into a house, I will go to help the sick and never with the intention of doing harm or injury.

This reads as an awareness of the physician’s power and of the responsibilities that come with it. If patients are trusting the physician and giving him this privileged access, for the good of the professional community he had better live up to that trust.

I will not abuse my position to indulge in sexual contacts with the bodies of women or men, whether they be freemen or slaves.

This is more of the same. Having privileged access means you have the opportunity to abuse it, but that kind of abuse could tarnish the reputation of the whole profession, even of physicians whose conduct met the highest standards of integrity.

Whatever I see or hear, professionally or privately, which ought not to be divulged, I will keep secret and tell no one.

To modern eyes, this part might suggest a commitment to maintain patient privacy. It’s more likely, however, that this was another admonition to protect the trade secrets of the professional community.

If, therefore, I observe this Oath and do not violate it, may I prosper both in my life and in my profession, earning good repute among all men for all time. If I transgress and forswear this Oath, may my lot be otherwise.

“Swear to God and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye!” Did we mention that it’s a serious oath?

The main thing I think is worth noticing here is the extent to which professionalism is driven by a need for the professional community to build good relations with the larger society – the source of their clients. Pick any modern code of conduct from a professional society and you will see the emphasis on duties to those clients, and to the larger public those clients inhabit, but this emphasis is at least as important for the professional community as for the people their profession is meant to serve. The code describes the conduct that members should exhibit to earn the trust of the public, without which they won’t get to practice their profession – or, at any rate, they might not be viewed as having special skills worth paying for, or as being the kind of people who could be trusted not to use those special skills against you.

Professionalism is not idealistic, then, but extremely pragmatic.

4 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: what is Friday Sprog Blogging about?

Aug 06 2010 Published by under [Education&Careers], Kids and science

Back in January 2006, when my blog moved to ScienceBlogs, I put up a post the first Friday that I thought was going to be a one-off, a reconstruction of a conversation I had with my kids (then 4.5 and 6.5 years of age) that struck me as having a distinctly science-y nature. As it happened, almost every Friday since then, we have posted a conversation (or artwork, or something along those lines) that we have had about science.

This week, the tradition moves to Scientopia.

Dr. Free-Ride: Because the blog just moved from ScienceBlogs to Scientopia, I wanted you to explain what the Friday Sprog Blogging is about.

Younger offspring: Friday Sprog Blogging is mostly about talking about stuff scientific, and typing it down on the blog, so other people could give feedback and learn about stuff that they didn't really learn about before.

Dr. Free-Ride: What do you think, elder offspring? What's the Friday Sprog Blogging about?

Elder offspring: Well, it's about you talking to your kids about something science-y, and then you type it, and then people give feedback like, "Oh my gosh, this is so cute!" or "Oh my gosh, your kids are so smart!" or one of those things.

Dr. Free-Ride: You think that's what it's about, an affirmation of how cute you are or how smart you are?

Elder offspring: Yes.

Dr. Free-Ride: You think that's the only value people get out of the Friday Sprog Blog?

Elder offspring: Yes.

Younger offspring: I think that's really wrong. I think that's off.

Dr. Free-Ride: So, what other kind of value do you think people get from the Friday Sprog Blog?

Younger offspring: Well, they could feed back like, "I didn't know this was true! Can you tell me more about it in the next blog?" Or something like that.

Dr. Free-Ride: So, you think it actually gets people interested in particular scientific questions or particular areas of science that they might explore further?

Younger offspring: Uh huh.

Dr. Free-Ride: Do you think it might also be of interest to people who maybe have sprogs of their own and are trying to figure out how to talk with them about stuff as their little kids are learning stuff?

Younger offspring: Uh huh.

Elder offspring: First of all, I'm not a little kid.

Dr. Free-Ride: Well, you're not anymore, but when we started this four-and-a-half years ago, you were. You were just six-and-a-half.

Younger offspring: Can I say something?

Dr. Free-Ride: Sure.

Younger offspring: Hi, Little Isis! Hi Minnow! Hi PharmKid! Hi PalKid!

Dr. Free-Ride: OK, your shout-outs* are noted. Anyway, elder offspring, you used to be little when we started this. You were in kindergarten --

Elder offspring: First grade.

Dr. Free-Ride: Still, in January of 2006, arguably, you were littler than you are now.

Elder offspring: "Smaller" is the correct grammar.

Dr. Free-Ride: Fine, smaller. But, don't you think that parents sometimes might have questions about whether they can really talk to their young kids about science? Don't you think sometimes parents might be anxious and think, "Oooh, I might get this wrong. Oooh, I should probably just wait until my kid is in school and the science teachers in school can teach them all they need to know"?

Younger offspring: No, I don't think people should do that. I think kids should start learning about science when they're young and before they go on to science classes, like in third grade.

Dr. Free-Ride: Why do you think kids should learn while they're young?

Younger offspring: Well, while they're really young, and they learn more than just third grade science, then they'll get smarter, and if you learn something when you're older, it's hard, 'cause you don't have much time to get better at it.

Dr. Free-Ride: OK, I hadn't really thought of it that way. What I was thinking -- and maybe it was just because you two were my kids -- my sense was that little kids seem to want to learn about everything in their world, about how everything works, and about how to figure out stuff that they don't know yet.

Younger offspring: Well, we learned how to talk. And that's because we've been listening to you, right?

Dr. Free-Ride: That's part of it. I think there's probably more to it than that. But elder offspring, you don't think the Friday Sprog Blog is at all interesting or useful to people who are trying to figure out how to interact with their kids' questions about the world and how it works?

Elder offspring: Well, we all know we can let the adults make their own decisions because, as we all know, adults are perfect and they do everything correctly and they are the supreme idols for everybody.

Dr. Free-Ride: You know what, even I can tell that that's your sarcastic voice.

Younger offspring: Yes, mother, I'll follow your command!

Dr. Free-Ride: I think something you guys might not realize so much is that, a lot of times adults, and especially parents, feel really nervous -- feel like they're supposed to know stuff that they don't actually know.

Younger offspring: Is that you and [Dr. Free-Ride's better half]?

Dr. Free-Ride: I think that's everyone. And I think sometimes especially parents trying to figure out how to deal with really young kids, and trying to help those kids figure out the world that they're in, those parents sometimes feel nervous about having to make it up as they go. And I guess one of the things that happened with the Friday Sprog Blog that I didn't expect would happen is it seemed like it ended up being a little bit of a "meta" conversation about , here's how to talk to your kids without necessarily teaching them -- but here's how to keep the conversation going about how to figure out your world. And you guys are still figuring out your world, right? Even though you know it a lot better than you did in January of 2006?

Elder offspring: I know that when I'm an adult I will know everything, and there will be no need to study now when I'm young and foolish.

Dr. Free-Ride: Again with the sarcastic voice!

Younger offspring: Hee!

Dr. Free-Ride: So, we're going to keep up the Friday Sprog Blogging on Scientopia?

Elder offspring: Yes.

Younger offspring: Yes! But is there any other place on Scientopia for kids?

Dr. Free-Ride: Well, there's a whole blog called Child's Play devoted to how kids' brains develop.

Elder offspring: As kids get to puberty, their brains grow huge, soaking up knowledge.

Dr. Free-Ride: You know what else they're soaking up besides knowledge at puberty, kiddo? They're soaking up the hormones that make the brain a little bit unpredictable for a few years. That's something that we have to look forward to, and I guess the Friday Sprog Blogs might start getting into the adolescent at puberty brain chemistry wacky stage soon.
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*Or should that be shouts-out?

12 responses so far

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