Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reinventing the wheel in every generation?

I just got back from the local AAPT conference (American Association of Physics Teachers).  Again there was some discussion of the modeling method of physics instruction (as promoted by Arizona State Univ.), though perhaps less than in past years.  While I am certianly an advocate of teaching the scientific method I don't think one can expect students to rediscover a substantial fraction of the physical models that we use.  How can a work of decades and centuries be performed in a semester?  Why would one want to?  Doesn't human society pass on its discoveries?  Can't we learn from others?

Classical mechanics was developed by Newton.  Newton was a genius.  My students are not. The average person must be able to learn from those who are smarter; learning things that they could never discover themselves.

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