Posts Tagged ‘kids’

As a followup to my last post on Reading for Generation Mars, I’d like to reference this piece by Becky Chambers at the Tor.com blog. She wrote it after meeting a (real! live!) astronaut and realizing that what she does is important to science and progress too, and not in an abstract way.

The fact is that if space exploration—in whatever form—is going to continue onward, it needs all the support we can muster. We need public outreach, like what the astronaut was doing, to be aware of the work that’s already being done, and to spark the next generation to follow in their footsteps. We need quality education, and a larger emphasis on scientific literacy, both in the classroom and beyond.

And we need science fiction. Now, more than ever.

We need to consider which futures are worth pursuing, which ideas we’ve outgrown, and what dangers (both practical and ethical) could be lurking along the way. Science fiction is the great thought experiment that addresses all of these things, and there is no branch of it that is not hugely relevant today. We need stories based around existing technologies, to help us determine our immediate actions. We need near-future stories that explore where our efforts might lead us in our lifetime. We need stories that take the long view, encouraging us to invest in better futures for distant generations. We need space operas, to remind us to be daring. We need apocalypses, to remind us to be cautious. We need realistic stories, and ridiculous stories, and everything in between, because all of these encourage us to dream (perhaps the ridiculous ones most especially). We need all of it.

I found this to be a really nice summary of so many of the reasons why fiction, and science fiction in particular, is important. Sure, it’s just one element in a matrix of education, outreach and exploration, but it’s in there.

Now I’m going to go write something:)

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This article by scientist Pascal Lee has a great point: reading helps kids turn dreams into reality. I just have one tiny bone to pick, and that has to do with the non/fiction divide:

“Let’s get ready for Mission: Mars and take our kids with us. Let’s start them on this journey with a non-fiction STEM book.”

I absolutely agree that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math learning and advancement requires books of the non-fiction variety. That’s right, actual facts are actually important. No question. I would add, though, that not only is it not bad if Generation Mars includes fiction on its reading list, doing so will help them with that first bit: having dreams. It’s also important to remember that much of the best science fiction is based on extrapolated science fact.*

“The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
— Peter Diamandis

As Lee points out, Scholastic’s “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life” motto is right on target, but why limit that reading? Non-fiction shows you how to build the path, fiction helps you decide where you want to go and imagine what it will be like when you get there.

I can’t wait to see where Generation Mars takes us.

* While “top X” lists are always arguable, they can be a great place to start. Check out this list of The Best Hard Science Fiction Books of all Time: Ten titles that inspired Technology Review to publish TRSF, its own collection of sci-fi stories.

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Just in time for Comic-Con, Linda Holmes over at NPR’s Monkey See pop-culture column has written a lovely piece today. It’s framed as a letter to “young creative weirdos,” those who may be socially awkward now but who will constitute our next wave of creators, of thinkers, of innovators. Here are a few excerpts, but if you are interested in encouraging young people to do more, do better, do different, I suggest you read the whole thing.

On change, and the making of same:
Don’t confuse what people are getting with what people want…. If you had told people [100 years ago], “I am a young person, and I intend to create Superman,” they would have told you, “That’s nice, dear, eat your dinner.” Things change.
On feedback:
Only listen to it if it’s supposed to make you better, not if it’s supposed to make you stop.
On work:
Write a lot, paint a lot, shoot a lot of film, take a lot of pictures, dance a lot, sing a lot, whatever the thing you do is, do it a lot.
Keep going.

This is exactly the sort of letter I would have appreciated as a kid. Pass it on.

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Is it just me or do those family car decals everyone’s suddenly sporting seem like a stalker’s dream? True, some of those stickers (check out the Star Wars version) are super cool. I still wouldn’t use them, though, and not just because my cat might object to being depicted as an Ewok. With all the discussion around privacy issues related to social media and other online activity, I’ve been surprised not to see more reaction to this sort of off-line behavior.

Perhaps I’m oversuspicious but ask yourself this: would you broadcast your partnership status and number of children to physically proximate strangers under other circumstances? Wear a T-shirt with that information on it, for example, or add a sign to your front door? Probably not. Imagine yourself alone at home, when you hear a creak from the darkness outside and realize that anyone with eyes to see your car knows that you are a single mother with one small child and no pets.

Of course, you could always line your car window with the whole Clone Army.


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