Monday, April 09, 2007

Good thing I was drinking cocoa...

...while grading a paper from a student. First of all, he referred to "astronomy" as "astrology". Secondly, his summary of a newspaper article derided the idea of being able to infer a previous collision between Kuiper Belt objects as being "too great for a reasonable person to believe" and that humans in the current era couldn't possibly have the ability to make such a statement. In fact, he extols his own skepticism and that he doesn't believe everything he reads. It distresses me, because putting this opinion together with his body language in lecture, I think he's been approaching the whole course this way. Don't get me wrong: I encourage my students to call me out when they think the ideas are too wacky to be possible. It's especially crucial in astronomy. I'm always careful to point out where the error bars are large or what assumptions underlie an idea. The goal of this course is to get enough of a fundamental basis so that you can be a "reasonable" person. To read this with only one month left in the course leaves me feeling a little pointless. Sigh.

4 comments:

Kirsten said...

Doesn't believe everything he reads, or doesn't believe anything he reads? Sounds like he doesn't want to be reasonable at all.

Jackie M. said...

I think you need to upgrade.

Dr. Lisa said...

Valrhona and I are on intimate terms. Most definitely.

It's frustrating, because I invite skepticism. I even point out when the students should be more skeptical. But this kid basically is saying that he doesn't believe we are capable of understanding the physics that govern trajectories. Argh! When he refuses to accept something that well-understood, how can I hope to open his eyes to the truly amazing leaps we have made.

SarahP said...

Sounds like the ideas are too big for his brain to handle...