A NOTE FOR TEACHERS: I’m interested in helping young people think skeptically and philosophically about concepts like knowledge, belief, evidence, fact, and theory. I developed the Vinland Map exercise for this purpose (in a philosophy of science class for gifted teens); I then wrote Noises in the Night as a way of starting similar conversations … Noises in the Night
I developed this exercise in a series of Critical Thinking and Philosophy of Science classes. It can raise a huge range of issues about knowledge; testing and confirmation bias; skepticism and how not to be gullible; the relationship between scientific and historical and common sense thinking; the relationship between key concepts like fact, belief, theory, … The Vinland Map Exercise
The full lesson plan is available as a PDF in the Lesson Attachment area above. Our whole education is organized around “buckets” of knowledge: “2+2 = 4” (math bucket); “Hydrogen is an element but water isn’t” (chemistry bucket); “Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809” (history bucket). But philosophy (and especially epistemology, the study of knowledge) … What do you know? An Exercise about What Knowledge Is
Materials needed: Epistemic scavenger hunt document (at least 2 per group, one for before the discussion and the other for after) Orienting quotes Visual prompts Description: 1. Before presenting participants with one or more of the prompts outlined above, have them gather into pairs or small groups to think about, discuss, and fill out a … Epistemic Adventure: Are you sure that you know?
For much of modern science, since the Enlightenment, animals were generally thought to be automatons: materialist robots programmed to behave in certain ways. Rene Descartes drew a sharp distinction between thinking beings, humans, and everything else, matter. 20th Century behaviorism continued to think of animals in this way but added humans to the mix. “Mind” … Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots
Personal Identity I ask students to bring their baby or early childhood pictures to class. After they try matching names with images of their classmates, I ask a question about their own picture: Are you the same person today that you were at the moment captured in your photo? Students readily admit that their physical … Personal Identity in Memento
Materials needed: Piece of paper and writing utensil Description: Note: this session operates as a good follow-up to a lesson plan on beliefs and evidence more generally. Ask the students for some things that they know. Put a few examples on the board. Tell the students the following story. It’s important that, for most of the … What Do You Know?