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Space Cadets - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Dec. 26th, 2005

07:33 pm - Space Cadets

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From:baratron
Date:December 27th, 2005 12:32 am (UTC)
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They really did get to go off and do space training afterwards? Hmm. I suppose that makes it not so bad, then. But yeah, the whole premise of the programme made me very uncomfortable.

Regarding "lies to children", I do always make sure to tell my students if they're learning a simplified model of something, that they'll have to "unlearn", or rather, build on later. Because it totally bothered me to learn the octet rule in GCSE chemistry, and then get to A-level and find out that actually, the higher atomic shells can hold up to 18 electrons, and then up to 32. I'd much rather tell them "this is the correct answer for your GCSE exam paper, but if you go on with chemistry, you'll learn it's not actually true", so it's not a horrible surprise. Most teachers don't bother with this, which I think is sad.

I haven't seen the film K-PAX, but I *loved* the book - it made me cry repeatedly, in a good way. I haven't dared pick up the sequels in case they spoil the ending of the first book. I just adore the fact that at the end of K-PAX, you have no way of knowing whether prot was "just" another personality of Robert, or if he was actually an alien, you can go with whichever explanation you prefer. I wonder whether the sequels clarify things one way or the other - if they did, that would certainly spoil them for me.

Anyway, just wittering about various things. I'll get round to answering that question of yours eventually :)
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From:rjw1
Date:December 27th, 2005 12:57 am (UTC)
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I do always make sure to tell my students if they're learning a simplified model of something

good. we were still havign this in physics at degree level. although i think
they did sometimes say that this may not be the full answer to what is happening.
It also happened with my a-level physics. They have to teach the sylabus so either though by the time we did the exam the top quark had its existence confirmed we still had to answer as if its existence was still only a theory.

K-PAX</p>
i dont think they ruin it. but i cant actaully remember properly
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From:johnckirk
Date:December 27th, 2005 01:13 am (UTC)
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They really did get to go off and do space training afterwards? Hmm. I suppose that makes it not so bad, then. But yeah, the whole premise of the programme made me very uncomfortable.

Yes, all of the "cadets" got paid at least 5000 quid. The three who went in the shuttle simulator got 25000, and also get sent off to Star City (in Russia) to do training and experience weightlessness in the "vomit comet" (the aircraft that flys up and does steep dives). However, none of them actually get to go into orbit.

Regarding "lies to children", I do always make sure to tell my students if they're learning a simplified model of something, that they'll have to "unlearn", or rather, build on later.

As Bob said, I think that's very good. I do something similar if I simplify computer explanations for non-IT people, e.g. saying "roughly speaking ..." or "that's not quite how it works, but it's near enough for your purposes". The actual "lies to children" quote is a phrase that appears quite often in the "Science of Discworld" books (in case you haven't read them), although you may have encountered it elsewhere.

(By the way, is it just me/my LJ stylesheet, or is the "quote" option for comments pretty much useless on its own? There's no clear way to differentiate the quoted text from the comment unless you add extra formatting.)
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