The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘educator’

The Amaz!ng Meeting 2014: Skepticism and The Brain

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 28, 2014

I just wanted to pass along the news that registration has opened for The Amaz!ng Meeting 2014 in Las Vegas this July.  This year’s theme is “Skepticism and The Brain”, and it promises to be an educational and enlightening experience.  Read on for more…

JREF14_tam_webbanner2_newemail

 

We are thrilled to announce that The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) returns in just a few months: July 10-13, 2014 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Our theme this year – Skepticism and the Brain – is focused on the cognitive and brain sciences and how they inform the project of skepticism. Keynote speakers include the acclaimed philosopher, cognitive scientist, and best selling author Daniel Dennett and Scientific AmericanEditor-in-Chief Mariette DiChristina. Other speakers include neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland, Australia’s Dr. Karl, Evolution & Human Behavior Editor-in-Chief Robert Kurzban, Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience authors Scott Lilienfeld and Sally Satel, M.D., influential memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus, clinical neurologist Steven Novella, M.D., immunologist Paul Offit, M.D., National Center for Science Education’s Eugenie Scott, Skeptic Editor-in-Chief Michael Shermer, psychologists and best selling authors Carol Tavris and Richard Wiseman, and many, many more!

The inimitable George Hrab returns as our Master of Ceremonies. As Pacific Standard magazine recently described, Hrab’s “vaudeville-style” has set the tone for “what is perhaps the world’s preeminent gathering of self-proclaimed skeptics.”

This annual celebration of critical thinking is an unparalleled opportunity to make like-minded friends, enjoy some of the brightest minds on issues important to skeptics, and leave with tools for spreading a helpful and educational message to those who might be hurt by charlatans and unfounded belief. TAM has become the must-go-to event for skeptics and science advocates.

Join James Randi and over a thousand other like-minded folks for four days of fun, friendship, and critical thinking!

REGISTER TODAY!

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Announcing Educator Grants for The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 24, 2013

I am very pleased to announce that the James Randi Educational Foundation is now accepting applications for educators to attend The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013 in Las Vegas this summer. I have been involved in many previous TAMs on the educational outreach side, and one thing I can say is that we need to get more teachers, at all levels and from both science and non-science backgrounds, to events like this as much as possible. So, if you are interested or know someone who is, please spread the word and take a look at the information below; alternately, you could also consider donating to the educator grant fund.

TAM 2013 EDUCATOR GRANTS

Are you an educator who would like to bring more skepticism and critical thinking into your classroom? Would you like to be inspired, energized, and informed? The Amazing Meeting is a great place to meet and network with other educators, get educational resources (including printed copies of the JREF’s education modules for classroom use), pick up tips, and be inspired.

In addition to three days of superb talks and panel discussions, TAM 2013 offers a full day of workshops, including one which will focus on incorporating skeptical thinking lessons into non-science classes.

The Amaz!ng Meeting is attended by people from all walks of life and all over the globe. Speakers include scientists, philosophers, journalists, educators, activists, and even entertainers. Simply put, TAM is the James Randi Educational Foundation’s yearly celebration of science, education, and critical thinking.

Veteran TAM goers know the feeling of community and inspiration that a weekend with skeptics provides. The yearly meeting recharges our batteries and sparks new ideas for projects to promote skepticism and scientific thinking.

Educators are in a unique position to reach our target audience, but they need good resources, the opportunity to discuss methods, and the kind of inspiration that events like The Amaz!ng Meeting provide. Educators who attend TAM will be able to bring what they have learned into their classrooms.

Click here for more information

Donate to the Educator Fund here

Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Educating/Debunking: What’s the Difference?” Video from Dragon*Con 2011

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 24, 2012

This past September I attended Dragon*Con in Atlanta, and I participated in many events and interviews, etc.  However, in my role as both a skeptic and a teacher, one of the most fruitful things I did was to participate in the Skeptrack discussion of how to approach the question of debunking in the context of education.  The panel was an important discussion moderated by JREF President, D.J. Grothe on the topic of Education vs. Debunking, how they are different and when and how each should be used to the greatest effect.  The discussion dealt with the issue in the context of the classroom as well as beyond in the broader culture.  Below is the video footage of the discussion; I hope you find it useful…

Image and video footage courtesy of the fine folks at Skeptrack.org :)

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Educator Grants Available from the James Randi Educational Foundation!

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 16, 2011

I am happy to report that the James Randi Educational Foundation is now awarding education grants to help educators with the development and implementation of lessons and curriculum related to teaching skepticism and critical thinking skills.  Read on for more information…

… Right now, the JREF has a limited number of educator grants (up to $500 each) available to help offset the cost of developing or improving critical thinking and scientific skepticism programs in the classroom.  Preference is given to projects aimed at creating educational content related to science or critical thinking through examination of the paranormal and pseudoscience.

Funded projects can include (but are not limited to) working with JREF educational modules (and related media) or developing new content to be made available to the educational community through the JREF.

If you’re interested in working with the JREF to share critical thinking tools with your students at a time when it matters most, please reply and let me know. I’m happy to answer any questions you have, discuss your ideas for projects, and explain the simple grant application process. For more information or to apply, contact: mblanford@randi.org

Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Education vs. Debunking” Panel at Skeptrack, Dragon*Con 2011

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 17, 2011

While I was at Dragon*Con a couple of weeks ago, one of the things I did was to participate in a very useful panel discussion on the Skeptrack.  The title of the panel was “Education vs. Debunking”, and the panel was an important discussion moderated by JREF President, D.J. Grothe on the topic of Education vs. Debunking, how they are different and when and how each should be used to the greatest effect.  The discussion dealt with the issue in the context of the classroom as well as beyond in the broader culture.  The entire discussion was recorded and is being broadcast on the Skepticality podcast, so if you’re interested check it out…

Skeptrack – Dragon*Con 2011

Panel Discussion: Educating vs. Debunking

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JREF Provides Educator Grants for 2011 – Apply Now!

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 17, 2011

As a way of putting the ‘E’ in JREF, I wanted to pass along to you some info I received from my skeptical education colleague, Michael Blanford, that the James Randi Educational Foundation has opened up the application process for its 2011 Educator Grants.  These are grants provided to professional educators (elementary, middle, high school or college teachers as well as less formal educators) in the hopes that they will be able to develop and hone their teaching skills to help promote critical thinking.  Read on for more information…

Apply for 2011 JREF Educator Grants

The JREF awards grants to educators who are inspiring a new generation of critical thinkers. These grants help pay for developing and improving programs that teach critical thinking and scientific skepticism in the classroom and beyond.

We award grants to educators of children grades K-12 for projects that promote critical thinking through the examination of the paranormal and pseudoscience. Grants are not limited to traditional classroom teachers and those from museums, camps, community centers, and other informal educational institutions are encouraged to apply.

We’re accepting proposals for 2011 grants until July 1st, so please apply or share this information with a deserving educator you know. Here are the 2011 grant application forms and additional details.

So if you are an educator or know someone who is who might benefit from one of these grants, please pass the info along to them and encourage them to apply! :)

Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do You Have ESP? A Lesson in Skepticism from the JREF

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 9, 2010

As a member of the organization’s educational advisory panel, I’m happy to announce that the James Randi Educational Foundation has released its first free, online module for use in the classroom!  It’s called “Do You Have ESP?” and addresses the common perception that extra-sensory perception (ESP) is real.  Here’s the announcement from the JREF website…

First JREF in the Classroom Module Now Available Free

Written by Michael Blanford
Friday, 05 November 2010

Do You Have E.S.P.? is a downloadable lesson module for use in high school and junior high school science and psychology classes that allows students to explore the scientific method, critical thinking and parapsycholological research through an examination of the history of possibly flawed research methods of E.S.P. claims. Students can come to their own conclusions about the existence of paranormal abilities as they conduct E.S.P. experiments and learn first-hand about the pitfalls of bias, experimenter error and fraud in the laboratory. Classes may share their results with the James Randi Educational Foundation for publication online and view cumulative data from schools around the country on our website. …

I highly recommend that you check out this lesson!  If I have some time this year, I plan to try it out in my own classroom – download it here. And if you’re a teacher, make sure to tell your colleagues about it :)

 

Posted in education, psychics, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Illinois Federation of Teachers Awesome Resolution on Science vs. Supernaturalism

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 2, 2010

As some of you may know, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a blog post that the Illinois Federation of Teachers was working to pass a strongly worded resolution on science & creationism. Well, now that I’ve seen the actual text of the adopted resolution, I have to say that it is stronger than I expected (a very good thing indeed!)  I find it worthwhile to point out one section in particular – thanks to RBH over at The Panda’s Thumb for bringing this section to my attention…

WHEREAS, attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe;

Wow!  That’s pretty much a right cross straight into the teeth of not only creationists, but pretty much anyone else who wants to push their pseudoscientific, religious or supernatural beliefs as science in Illinois public schools.  Count me as a happy camper :)

But there’s more, so without further delay, here is the full text of the adopted resolution:

KEEP SUPERNATURALISM OUT OF THE SCIENCE CURRICULUM

Adopted at the 2010 Illinois Federation of Teachers Convention

WHEREAS, science is a systematic method for investigating natural phenomena through experimentation, observation and measurement leading to falsifiable explanations that are open to continuous testing; and

WHEREAS, science proceeds on the basis of methodological naturalism and assumes observed phenomena of the universe are real, nature is consistent and understandable, and nature is explainable in terms of laws and theories; and

WHEREAS, a scientific theory is consistent with evidence from multiple and independent sources of evidence, explains many different facts and allows predictions of subsequent discoveries; and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution satisfies these criteria fully, is the foundation of biological science, is supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence from other disciplines in science and is consistent with theories from other scientific disciplines including anthropology, geology, physics, astronomy and chemistry; and

WHEREAS, there have been attempts in some states to include supernaturalism in the science curriculum as an alternative to scientific explanations of nature, particularly as an alternative to evolutionary theory; and

WHEREAS, arguments that invoke supernaturalism are grounded in religious or philosophical considerations outside the realm of science; and

WHEREAS, attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe; and

WHEREAS, legislation that conflates supernaturalism, or limits, or prohibits the teaching of any scientific theory negatively impacts our ability to make informed decisions; and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the Illinois Federation of Teachers to preserve the integrity of science in the classroom; therefore be it

resolved, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers affirm, through a positional statement on its website, the validity of science as a methodology for understanding the nature of the universe, and affirm the validity and foundational importance of organic evolution to science as a whole and biology, specifically; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, that supernaturalism is not a scientific endeavor and, therefore, is inappropriate for inclusion in the science curriculum; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this resolution does not make it the official position of the IFT that there is no God and should not be interpreted as a statement either for or against religion or belief in God; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT call upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of including non-science subjects (e.g., intelligent design and creationism) in our science curriculum; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT communicate to the local, regional and national public media, to educational authorities and to appropriate legislators its opposition to the inclusion of non-science approaches and subjects (e.g., creationism and intelligent design) into the science education curricula of our public school system; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the IFT members also promote these concerns and help resolve these issues in their home communities among educators, parents, school boards and students in appropriate public forums.

Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Pro-Science Resolution for the Illinois Federation of Teachers?

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 15, 2010

**Update: I’ve received word that the IFT resolution was accepted this past weekend!  I will post the full text of the amended resolution once I receive it.

=================

I teach high school & college science in Illinois, and I’m also a member of both teaching unions here – the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association. I’m often proud to be a member of these organizations, though at times my patience is worn rather thin with them.  Specifically, I know some people who are trying very hard to get a resolution passed at the IFT conference this weekend concerning evolution & creationism.

Sadly, in the past the IFT (and, to my knowledge, the IEA as well) has taken no official position on the teaching of science in public schools.  Thus, stupid things happen like creationists are allowed to show up with a booth at IFT/IEA conferences (would they allow, say, Holocaust deniers to push their “alternate view” of history?)

The purpose of the resolution is to get the IFT to finally take a strong, pro-science stand against the pseudoscience & religiously-driven malarkey of creationism which has been pushed for far too long.  It is undoubtedly true that there are IFT members who are creationists, but that isn’t a reason to avoid addressing this issue – the scientific community has spoken, the federal courts have spoken, and now it is time for the IFT and other teachers’ unions to speak & stand up strongly for sound science education in our public schools.

If you are a member of IFT and are a delegate to this weekend’s conference, or you know someone who is, please encourage them to stand up  and speak in support of this resolution when it is presented.  For more information, you make contact Professor Gary Fritz at gnfritz@eiu.edu

The language of the resolution follows:

UPI House of Delegates 2009

Keep non-scientific ideas out of the science curriculum

submitted by

GARY FRITZ, EIU-UPI

WHEREAS, science is a systematic method for investigating natural phenomena through experimentation, observation, and measurement leading to falsifiable explanations that are open to continuous testing; and

WHEREAS, science proceeds on the basis of methodological naturalism and assumes observed phenomena of the universe are real, nature is consistent and understandable, and nature is explainable in terms of laws and theories; and

WHEREAS, a scientific theory is consistent with evidence from multiple and independent sources of evidence, explains many different facts, and allows predictions of subsequent discoveries; and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution satisfies these criteria fully,  is the foundation of biological science, is supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence from other disciplines in science, and is consistent with theories from other scientific disciplines including anthropology, geology, physics, astronomy, and chemistry; and

WHEREAS, there have been attempts in some states to include non-scientific ideas, such as creationism and intelligent design, in the science curriculum as  alternatives to scientific explanations of nature, particularly as an alternative to evolutionary theory; and

WHEREAS, arguments grounded in religious or philosophical considerations outside the realm of science have been invoked in attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory.  These attempts are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe; and

WHEREAS, legislation that incorporates unscientific ideas into the science curriculum, or limits, or prohibits the teaching of any scientific theory, negatively impacts our ability to make informed decisions; and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the AFT to preserve the integrity of science in the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved, that the AFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, the validity of science as a methodology for understanding the nature of the universe, and affirm the validity and foundational importance of organic evolution to science as a whole and biology, specifically; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, that ideas such as creationism and intelligent design are not with  in the realm of science and, therefore, are inappropriate for inclusion in the science curriculum; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT call upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory, and the inappropriateness of  including non-science subjects (e.g.,  intelligent design and creationism) in our science curriculum; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT communicate to the local, regional, and national public media, to educational authorities, and to appropriate legislators its opposition to the inclusion of non-science approaches and subjects (e.g., creationism and intelligent design) into the science education curricula of our public school system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFT members also promote these concerns and help resolve these issues in their home communities among educators, parents, school boards, and students in appropriate public forums.

Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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