Thursday, June 16, 2022

I Once Met A Man Who Believes The Earth Is Flat

The Edge of the World 
by Shel Silverstein

Columbus said the world is round?
Don't you believe a word of that.
For I've been down to the edge of the world,
Sat on the edge where the wild wind whirled,
Peeked over the edge where the blue smoke curls,
And I can tell you, boys and girls,
The world is FLAT!

There are many more people who believe the earth is a sphere.

Others believe that trees are like fruit, if you don't pick them they rot.

I know people who believe that it's morally wrong to eat animals or any of their byproducts.

There are those who believe that there are only two genders. 

Others believe that gender is a social construct.

Some believe that guns keep them safe. 

There are those like me who believe that the danger of death or injury goes up whenever a gun is present, so I leave the room when one is present.

I've spent my career around people who believe in fairies and Santa.

A boy once told me that Star Wars is real because "I've seen it!"

I once believed that there were actual small people living inside our family's television set, but then a repairman let me see the inside of it.

I once believed that the moon was a hole in the sky revealing the light behind it, but then I looked at it through a telescope.

I once believed that people lived on the top side of clouds, but then I flew in a jet.

Scientific consensus is a marker of general agreement among scientists; it changes as agreements change.

Simon and Garfunkel sang, "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

Voltaire wrote, "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."

Charles Darwin believed, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."

Our schools are based upon ignorance and absurdity because they are conceived largely as places of right and wrong answers. 

I was recently speaking with a professor of neuroscience who told me that the field is changing so rapidly that by the time peer reviewed papers are published, they are already out of date. But this isn't just true of neuroscience; it is true of all human knowledge. 

If our schools are to ever be places of wisdom, judgement and certainty must be replaced with questions of curiosity rather than testing. Children would then be free to believe that small people live inside their screens and they would likewise be free to open up the back and look inside to meet those small people, or not. 

Socrates asserted, "If I am the wisest man it is because I alone know that I know nothing." His "method" is a process of asking questions, which beget more questions, which in turn beget more questions.

The man I met who believes the earth is a disk is no danger to anyone, but even he was, I will never convince him with argument. Believe me, I tried. The only thing that has ever convinced anyone to change their beliefs are questions, real questions, which is to say those that are asked out of genuine curiosity. 

In our world, we seem to believe that we can come closer to the truth by shouting at one another across divides, playing gotcha, attempting to install our certainty over the certainty of others, even as we know that all certainty is folly. 

Mónica Guzmán, the author of I Never Thought of it That Way, believes that "radical curiosity" is the better path. As part of preparing for the upcoming Teacher Tom's Play Summit, I asked her questions because I was curious. I believe that she is right. If you think I'm wrong, about anything, get curious and ask me some questions. And I'll do the same for you.


"I recommend these books to everyone concerned with children and the future of humanity." ~Peter Gray, Ph.D. If you want to see what Dr. Gray is talking about you can find Teacher Tom's First Book and Teacher Tom's Second Book right here

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