Thursday, August 3

Thinking about teachers and education and such

I was thinking earlier. You see, that's why I'm making a post. I thought some thoughts and found them to be of some value, something others might enjoy. Thus, I write now.

Anyway, Nietzsche wrote something along the lines of "Teachers are a necessary evil." That's wrong actually. He wrote in German and it was probably closer to "Lehrer sind ein notwendiges Übel (courtesy of seeing as how my German vocabulary isn't extensive enough to come up with that line on my own, and I lack Nietzsche in German (not that I'd know where to look for it))." This is important though because I read an article through Arts & Letters Daily about folk science and how we as humans generally screw up science because of our limited perspective. At some point, the writer brought up heliocentricty and the earth as a globe as things we don't realize on our own. I know that. Those facts were ground into me in most every science book and I ever read and more than a few history books as well. The problem is I've never proven these for myself. I've been told that these are so, but I've never done the calculations, the figuring that proves them. How do I know for certain that these are true, and I'm not being mislead? I guess I don't. I could be living in some boring rip-off of The Truman Show, and everyone wants to know what ludicrous notion I'll swallow next.

I guess that's what labs like dissection and those that allow you to calculate acceleration due to gravity are for. They give us the opportunity to see that these are real. The problem with those, though, is that the students know what is supposed to happen, what results the teacher wants to see, and we, at least my friends and I in high school, fudged like mad. We accepted the established results even though our own results differed.

To quote another notable dead white man, Newton said (more likely wrote but whatever), "If I've seen farther than others its because I've stood on the shoulders of giants." The only way we can make significant progress is by building on the previous works of others. If everyone had to start off from the beginning, observing nature and working out gravity and whatever else, we as humans would not be at the level we are today. Then again, if one of these giants people are scrambling up today made some fundamental mistake, a whole lot of time would be lost in the development of a different approach to that particular field.

My history professor last semester backs Newton up against Nietzsche. He said something that I remember as, "You don't just give some chemistry set to a kid and say, 'Have fun!'" If I remember right, this is taken more than a bit out of context. He was drawing a comparison on whether ethics and morality should be taught to children when he delivered that line. Still works. Teachers are very necessary, both to overall progress and to safety.

Then again, I am more than likely reading Nietzsche a bit shallowly here and could be blasted off this planet by someone with a better background than I in his writings.

What was this post about? The fun one can have in comparing quotes, I guess. I should do this again sometime.

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