Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reason Over Rote?

We all learn differently. Some people need maps drawn in the dirt for them and others would rather you just tell them how to get there. What you're learning can also make a difference in how you learn it. Science is no exception.

Recently I came across two similar pieces talking about science education theory. The first was a piece by Ed Yong on how teaching scientific knowledge doesn't improve scientific reasoning and the other was an editorial in The Scientist by Steven Wiley on didactic learning. The pieces conclude that scientific reasoning is not learned, it is either something that comes naturally or evolves from an interest and base of scientific knowledge (respectively).

Communication and advocacy both take a lot of reasoning skills. There are certainly methods and models to follow (relatively easy to memorize), but there are much more subjective elements to consider as well.

Here at New Voices, we're trying to take both approaches to developing the best spokespeople for science: fact-based pieces on science communication supplemented by examples of advocates along with opportunities to try it for yourselves. What works best for you? What style or method is the most appealing?

If you had to choose, would it be reasoning or rote memorization?

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