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re: What's in a name?

Amado Narvaez wrote:

> How do you feel when a lay person, especially a child, misidentifies a
> dinosaur in a painting, video or exhibit? With the tyrannosaurs, if the
> is alone in the scene, it's often difficult for me to tell the
>difference. But
> if I see a tyrannosaur in the same scene with Euoplocephalus, I figure it
> can't be T. rex. Do you use the moment to teach the child that not all
> tyrannosaurs were Tyrannosaurus rex, or do you bite your tongue because a
> treatise of that nature would kill the child's enthusiasm?

How can it damage a child's enthusiasm to correct them of a mistaken
notion? I speak before elementary school classes often, and have had to
correct mistaken ideas several times. I always start the session by seeing
how many different dinosaurs the children can name, keeping a tally by
writing the names on the blackboard. Pterodactyl comes up often, as does
wooly mammoth and plesiosaur, not to mention long-necks and sharp-tooths. I
can not, in all conscience, let these pass unchallenged, and so explain,
carefully and gently, that these animals were not dinosaurs but (fill in
the blank). I never do it in such a way as to humiliate them, certainly,
and I am never aware of crushing any enthusiasm in the process. The kids
are always bright and full of questions, and come out of the class
(hopefully) knowing more than when they came in. I cannot see how anyone
(child or adult) can learn anything if they are allowed to harbor a
mistaken idea and no one ever challenges them on it or corrects them.

Brian Franczak (franczak@ntplx.net)