The first class in The Modern Village fall series kicked-off on Thursday, October 4, to a full house of parents there for Everybody is a Scientist with Milburn physician Dr. Donald Cotler.
Dr. Donald Cotler covered a range of topics, and stressed the importance of teaching children to be independent, scientific thinkers – stressing that in this age of “un-reason” we needed to be raising a new generation of critical thinkers who can assess and evaluate scientific information.
In addition to discussing the various ways that parents can educate their children about science in general, Dr. Cotler also provided ways for parents to encourage their children to “think like a scientist.”
For parents, Dr. Cotler explored strategies that can be used to analyze and digest scientific information that is read in publications or on the Internet. Most importantly, Dr. Cotler stressed, parents must vet the source being used and to use multiple sources. A larger number of sources makes it easier to determine the validity of the information and data that is being presented.
Some of the other take-aways from Dr. Cotler’s talk include:
• When encouraging your children, praise effort not outcome.
• Realize that how you say something can increase, or decrease, its effectiveness. For example, if you call someone a “Carrot-Eater” they are more likely to identify with that attribute, and it is much for persuasive than saying that a person is “someone who eats carrots.”
• Scientists need to make their findings more accessible and interesting to the general public.
Next up, adding science to the national and international agenda – which as Dr. Cotler pointed out, has been largely absent from the presidential debates.
What do you think – do parents have the tools they need to educate their children about science? And how can this change?