Are children more Marie Curie or Margaret Mead when it comes to learning? Are they little scientists who learn best by experimenting and figuring things out for themselves, or little anthropologists who need to listen, observe, and rely on what others tell them?
– Lory Hough, Why Do Kids Believe in God but Not Harry Potter?
A project at Unboundary has led me to this apparent dichotomy, and to the two representative articles below. Of course, it’s not an “either/or” issue. As with most cases of deep, complex, human learning, it’s a “both/and” resolution. Learners are both scientists and anthropologists. Dr. Harris, in fact, makes this point in the HGSE Ed. article and in his book Trusting What You’re Told. Spending twenty years in schools as a professional educator, as well as eight years as a dad, has shown me first hand that children are both scientists and anthropologists. And, I imagine, I learned that by being both a scientist and an anthropologist myself.
I believe in the both/and of this. However, I could not help remembering one of my most favorite scenes from one of my most favorite movies – Good Will Hunting. Please know that there is some strong, adult language in the five-minute YouTube clip below. But the lesson is profound.
I imagine that Will learned from the dialogue and exchange, from an adult whom he grew to trust and love. And I imagine that Will learned from the experience in which the exchange occurred…and from later actually going to “see about a girl.” Not just taking his teacher’s word for it.