Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Notions of reality

Looked after the Bratii on Sunday. Herein follows a rough transcript of a conversation with Minor:

Minor: "I'm tired because I had to stay up and fix my Lego model car"
Me: "No you didn't have to stay up you wanted to stay up"
Minor: "Muh I got it working you press the button and the lights go on"
Me: "Oh it comes with a power source then?"
Minor: "No it comes with batteries!"
Me: "Which are the power source - the source of the power"
Minor: "No they're batteries - god!"

Later he's fiddling with the fridge magnets - one is a sand-filled transparent plastic container shaped like the Isle of Wight

Me: "So what's that then?"
Minor looks at it: "The Isle of Wight"
Me: "It's a bit small isn't it? How does everyone live on it"
Minor gives me a narrowed look
Me: "So what's that one then?"
Minor: "It's a lighthouse"
Me: "How can you tell?"
Minor: "Because it has red and white stripes"
Me: "So does a barber's pole"
Minor: "No they don't... oh yes they do but those move lighthouses' don't"
Me: "How do you know?"
Minor: "I've never seen them move"
Me: "Maybe they only move when you're not looking"
Minor: "No they don't!"
Me: How would you know?"
Minor: "...It's got a light on top"
Me: "It's not very bright, are you sure it's a light?"

He then changes the subject and asks what the kettle is
Me: "What does it look like?"
Minor "A water jug?"
Me: "Close. What's that on the side?"
Minor: "A switch"
Me: "And on the other side?"
Minor: "A cord"
Me: "Which is plugged into a power source"
Minor: "Oh god - they're batteries"
Me: "So where does the electricity come from?"
Minor: "Magic"
Me: "Oh yeah the Leprechauns make it"
Minor: "No the Elves do"
Me: "What's the difference?"
Minor: "Elves are smaller. Besides Leprechauns only do rainbows"
Me: "That's a bit specist isn't it? What if Leprechauns what to make electricity? Why shouldn't they?"
Minor: "I asked them and they didn't want to"

This continues and he determines that things do the things they do because he's seen them do it on TV.

Me: "So TV only shows real things?"
Minor: "No this was a documentary"
Me: "How do you tell the difference?"
Minor: "If it's on the children's channel it's not real"
Me: "Doesn't BBC2 show some sort of wildlife show?"
Minor: "...If it's animated it's not real"

I just find it fascinating to push him in this way and see how he responds. It's a forlorn hope, but I do hope some of this sinks in before he gains unfettered access to the internet and the vast swathes of misinformation that's out there.


Orphi said...

Admit it; you just like winding people up. ;-)

Can't say I blame you.

FlipC said...

It's an attempt (possibly in vain) to install some measure of critical thinking at a time when they'll easily absorb it. That is thinking about thinking and where the knowledge they regurgitate actually comes from.

Otherwise if we're not careful we end up with "Well I know it's true because it's on the internet"

Orphi said...

“Well it's true because it's on the Internet!”

That's perhaps the scariest thing I've heard today. o_O

FlipC said...

A minor debate is going on over at Liberal Conspiracy about this.

While we seem happy to teach facts to children less seems to be done about teaching them to evaluate those 'facts'.

Orphi said...

Liberal Comspiracy. My God, my eyes hurt!

All that stuff about critical thinking? You have to apply a lot of that before entertaining the idea of taking any of the user comments seriously…

FlipC said...

There's a good mix of people on there and it's always good to have one's preconceptions challenged; even if it does end up acknowledging that you were right all along ;-)