Will school science continue to teach the long-standing problem in cosmology about how dwarf galaxies form? I don’t know if/where schools teach the dwarf problem, but I do know curriculum and testing standards lock in old knowledge to what is taught and tested.
In this week’s Nature Fabio Governato and colleagues present computer simulations that appear to have solved a long-standing problem in cosmology — namely, how the standard cold dark matter model of galaxy formation can give rise to the dwarf galaxies we see around us.
The beautiful animation above shows how exploding stars are a key force in shaping dwarf galaxies.
Educators are long overdue in dancing away from locking students into subject matter that fossilizes into printed textbooks and their matching tests. As I lamented this week, Texas is doing that right now for history.
The education establishment has judgmentally held the internet at arms length for way too long. It is time for teaching to step into the magnificent ballet of what is known by humankind in the open internet.
And wonderfully, it is now possible to put knowledge like the dwarf dance into the hand of every child.
Presenting subject matter to learn online inside of a curriculum or one of its courses causes extra steps for learners and teachers go through to find that subject matter. The illustration* above of the network structure of the internet shows why this is true.
For example, in the network illustration above, the Frog Animal Bytes page from the San Diego Zoo could be the 4-dot webpage, with the green dot representing the upper left frog photo. Fortunately, in this case the excellent Animal Bytes pages each have their own urls, and can readily be found through searching online.
Because the Animal Bytes frog and Toad page is an independent url, it can be networked into curricula, independent study, science work and all sorts of subjects: jungles studies, flycatchers, comparative amphibians, and power jumpers, to name a few.
But when curriculum makers and aggregators make their users drill down into through curriculum to lecture to chapter before getting to the meat webpages of the subject matter, the benefits of open source and open content are pretty well lost. Putting curriculum materials online without making their knowledge assets findable on their own degrades the quality of learning. After all, can we suppose that curriculum makers will create a better frog page than the San Diego Zoo has? Yet if you look around at online curricula you will find that often (most often?) the folks who make the curricula do not connect out to the excellent resources like Animal Bytes. That needs to change.
In the age of the internet, the censorship of curricula is getting more and more ridiculous. In the humanities or sciences, it is no longer the university where the most recent, vetted, and complete knowledge is available. Wherever we are on the political spectrum, I cannot imagine we would want to send our kids to a place where a curriculum gives them only a slice of a subject selected by the faculty.