[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: What's in a name?

On Fri, 15 Aug 1997 14:41:00 -0500 franczak@ntplx.net (Brian Franczak)
>Amado Narvaez wrote:
>> How do you feel when a lay person, especially a child, misidentifies 
>> dinosaur in a painting, video or exhibit? With the tyrannosaurs, if 
>> 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 
>> 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 
>correct mistaken ideas several times. I always start the session by 
>how many different dinosaurs the children can name, keeping a tally by
>writing the names on the blackboard. Pterodactyl comes up often, as 
>wooly mammoth and plesiosaur, not to mention long-necks and 
>sharp-tooths. I
>can not, in all conscience, let these pass unchallenged, and so 
>carefully and gently, that these animals were not dinosaurs but (fill 
>the blank). I never do it in such a way as to humiliate them, 
>and I am never aware of crushing any enthusiasm in the process. The 
>are always bright and full of questions, and come out of the class
>(hopefully) knowing more than when they came in. 

 We've never had any child break down into tears when corrected in this
gentle way.  We also start by saying that it takes time for all the books
and videos for young people to catch up with the scientific world, and
coming to a museum like ours is one way to get the "inside story."  When
presented in this way, any information that is new to them comes out to
be a big and exciting "insider's secret" that they grab onto with
enthusiasm.  The adults also respond just as well to this approach.

>I cannot see how 
>(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.

Well said.  Another approach is to do a "dinosaur IQ test, with true and
false responses to "all extinct reptiles were dinosaurs," "T. rex ate
Stegosaurus," "dinosaurs could fly and swim deep underwater," "dinosaurs
lived with people like in the Flintstones" kinds of questions.  With each
question you poll the audience, and give the answer.  By the 3rd out of
10 questions, they get the idea that all the answers are false, and get
into it.  Everyone has fun, and everyone learns something.  Hopefully!

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.