The Course of Reason

Skeptical Kid is Skeptical

October 18, 2011

When we think of the typical “students” that are in CFI college affiliate groups, I bet most of us imagine someone 15-24, single, loves Doctor Who, and so on. The truth is that most student groups have at least a few members who are non-traditional, meaning that, among other things, they might be married, over twenty-three, or a parent. My student group had mostly non-traditional students, and I was one, so I try to consider the non-traditional point of view and circumstances while organizing and helping other groups to plan.

Some time ago, I wrote a blog about accommodating children and people with children in our movement. There are things that we can be doing to include children and families in our movement in order to make sure that future generations know they are a part of a legacy of reason and science. I still think that is an important idea to keep in mind, but a blog post over at Parents Beyond Belief spurred me to bring up a slightly different aspect of this topic.

Sylvia Benner from CFI–Portland wrote a blog post about how she taught her son to evaluate his own thinking and look for errors in his reasoning without indoctrinating him with her own biases. The event she describes happened when he was just six-years-old, and she took time to explain to him how to think through conclusions to see if they are false. I think that we can all learn a lot from skeptical and freethinking parents because they have so much experience teaching critical thinking and skepticism in concise ways. Read Sylvia’s post here.

It turns out that explaining science, reason, and skepticism to children is a good way to confirm that you understand simpler concepts in thinking. You’d be surprised how hard it is to explain simple things when you think that you have gone so far beyond that basic knowledge. It is great practice, plus we can all learn from resources for children because these resources are often interesting, easy to understand, and nice jumping-off points for adults.

Another recent example and fun resource for learning is the Richard Dawkins book The Magic of Reality. I had a chance to read some of it and play with the iPad app, and it was so fun! It was the best way to review principles of math, science, and reason.

So, nothing too profound today, but something to think about. If you’re lucky enough to have a tiny person in your life with whom you can explore math and science, let us know what your favorite resources are. Many of us are not yet parents, but chances are we do have or will have children in our lives eventually, and we owe it to them to care about teaching and inspiring them.



About the Author: Dren Asselmeier

Dren Asselmeier's photo

Dren Asselmeier does student outreach as a campus organizer at the Center for Inquiry. She got her start as an organizer while interning at Center for Inquiry–Michigan in 2008. She stayed until 2010 as a volunteer campus coordinator, and was CFI–Michigan Freethinker of the Year in 2009, as well as president of Center for Inquiry–Grand Valley State University. Dren has a B.A. in English from Grand Valley State University. She is the president of Buffalo Area Non-Profit Professionals, an event volunteer at Buffalo Subversive Theatre, and a contributor to the Buffalo Storyteller Hour. 




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