Saturday, September 20, 2014

Flakes and Skeptics in the Sixth Grade

So my son's sixth-grade reading teacher has assigned them all "unexplained phenomena" to investigate; Ben got the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident. On the one hand, the woman seems to be a flake, and I hate to think what she might be saying to them in class. On the other, this is actually a cool assignment for middle school kids: take an incident with a defined body of original data -- in Ben's case, the testimony of five witnesses and an audiotape recording their radio conversation with the base while they investigated the mysterious lights, plus various after the fact explanations -- and try to sort out what really happened. Ben and I have been having fun sorting through this. He started from the supposition since the source was "the military" the information ought to be good, but in fact the sources are five different servicemen and officers who reported quite different things.

I am certainly enjoying this more than helping with long division.

If I taught history to middle or high school students I think I might try an assignment like this, taking an event like a disputed police shooting and working through all the evidence, with the idea of showing how hard it can be to establish even the basic facts about anything.


pootrsox said...

This is a wonderful task for any age students, if tailored appropriately!

The teacher need not be a "flake," just someone who understands that the best way for kids to learn more and learn how to do more is to give them tasks that engage their interest while polishing their higher-order thinking skills, including analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Brava to her!

G. Verloren said...


I would assume any opinion regarding the teacher is gleaned from personal interaction with them, rather than from the nature of this particular assignment. *wink*