Facts and process are BOTH important

Ken Klemow kklemow at WILKES1.WILKES.EDU
Tue Jul 13 12:03:54 EST 1999

Grant R. Cramer wrote:

>I agree with your comments. I would add one other factor that I feel is MOST
>important to teach my students and that is for them "to be able to
>critically evaluate information" or "to think for themselves". Surprisingly
>few are capable of doing this by the time they reach my class after 3 years
>of University education. In many cases, student entering my class have never
>read a scientific paper.


Science consists of two parts: (1) the process by which new information is
collected, reported, and archived, and (2) the body of information that
results from Part (1).  I think that if we don't teach BOTH to our
students, we are doing them, and society, a disservice.

Thus, I feel strongly that all of our courses must have a strong content
component - unless the course is specifically a "methods" or seminar
course.  However, courses should NOT be ALL content, but should cover the
manner in which we have come to know what we know, perhaps some discussion
of historical concepts that we have discarded along the way, and **most
importantly** areas that are in need of future investigation.  As Grant
Cramer noted, critical thinking should be a central skill that we teach.
However, we are deluding ourselves if we go on pretending that anybody can
be a useful consumer of new information without having a solid background
in a given field.  We have all seen situations in which an unknowledgeable
person either (A) fails to criticize something that deserves criticism, or
(b) criticizes something that's actually praiseworthy.

Ken K.

Kenneth M. Klemow, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology & GeoEnvironmental Science
Biology Program
Wilkes University
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766
e-mail: kklemow at wilkes1.wilkes.edu
webpage: http://wilkes1.wilkes.edu:80/~kklemow
phone: 570-408-4758
fax: 570-408-7862

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