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Education ( was RE: Classification: A Definition)

> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Anthony Docimo
> >For the Monotremata example, Mammalia is a clade inside Synapsida, just as
> >Monotremata is a clade inside Mammalia.  Thus, by extension, Monotremata is
> >a clade (one of many) inside Synapsida.  The source of confusion for
> >Anthony Docimo, as far as I can tell, is that he is assuming that the word
> >"monotreme" is supplanted by "synapsid".  This is conceptually incorrect.
> actually, that wasn't what I was asking....I was reminded that not all
> egg-laying mammals could be classed as monotremes  --  so I asked if they
> could be classed as synapsids.  (as just calling them "mammals" would just
> confuse some kids)

As a professional educator as well as a researcher:

You make it sound like it is a bad thing to confuse a kid. It's not, so long as 
after you've confused them, you open their minds to
a different way of looking at things.

The goal of education is not to help people confirm that the world fits 
comfortably into their previous experiences. It is to lead
them forth to new understanding. (The word "education" being derived ultimately 
from the Latin words meaning "to lead forth" or "to
lead outward").

One of the best comments I heard from a student this year during our review 
sessions was:

"This reading made me uncomfortable. I liked it."

So in this case, letting them know that they are mammals, but that they still 
lay eggs, will help kids know that not all mammals are
like cats and dogs. And maybe you can use that to help them to understand that 
cats and dogs are more closely related--that is, have
a more recent common ancestor with each other--than they have with marsupials 
or monotremes.

Hope this helps,

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
        Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
        Mailing Address:
                Building 237, Room 1117
                College Park, MD  20742

Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796