There was an amazing blog posting in my twitterstream this morning, thanks to @SkepticsGuide and @COmtnClimr. Steven Novella posted A Parent’s Approach to Science Education. If you’ve got kids (or nieces, nephews, neighbour’s kids, hell, even the neighbours) and you want to enrich their science education and, more importantly, get them excited about science, you should read his post. It’s full of great advice. Nice shout out to astronomy, too.
One section of his blog really caught my attention:
I see a risk in my daughters seeing me as an authority figure that should not be questioned. Children tend to do this with all adults, but especially those with specialized knowledge that can seem overwhelming. So above all I try to make the process of asking questions and understanding the natural world seem as accessible as possible, something that we can do together.
Professionally, I’m aware of this “authority = unaccessible” problem but I hadn’t recognized that it also applies at my dining room table. I don’t think I’m too guilty of shutting down my kids because I’m “the authority” in some things (and my wife is certainly “the authority” in others.) I think we try hard to listen, respond and adapt as needed.
If there’s one tip I can add to the blog, it’s this. One of my kids, H, is older than the other, F, and always wants to be the first to answer any question. So I often start my questions with, “I’ve got a question for you F [the younger one] and H [the older one], please let F answer. You’ll have a chance when F is done…” It give F a chance to think, without worrying about the older sib stomping on or scooping his answer.
Again, if you’ve got kids or interact with kids, have a look at Novella’s post. And have fun at the dining room table tonight…