Good News and Bad News

Okay.  Here’s the good news.  Kids like to read.  I know; it’s shocking.  Things were never like this when I was growing up, but thanks to books like Harry Potter and Twilight reading has become “popular.”  Just look at the success of young adult literature.

Now the bad news.  American students don’t understand science.  Apparently they even struggle to explain how heat moves from one place to another.  There are a lot of reasons why this may have happened: schools are cutting their budgets, class sizes are too large, teachers avoid important but controversial subjects like evolution.  I won’t go into all that right now (click here or here if you want to read more).

I’ve always felt that scientific accuracy makes better science fiction.  Obviously the story comes first, and sometimes that means bending the Laws of Thermodynamics a little, but science fact makes science fiction more believable.  A book like Dune wouldn’t be the same without the research Frank Herbert did on ecology.  Ender’s Game wouldn’t work without Newton’s Laws of Motion or Einstien’s Theory of Relativity, which are seamlessly incorporated into military strategy in space.

But maybe scientific accuracy matters for another reason as well.  Young readers might learn something.  For the first time, a fourth grader named Johnny might find science interesting, and he might go ask his science teacher if this Relativity stuff is really true.  Maybe, with the help of science fiction, American students like Johnny will start to understand science again.

What do you think?

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