29 November 2011

Science fiction as a tool in teaching science

Though we are flooded  with education technology tools to help us reach children in their classrooms, appropriate fiction has always been an effective tool in classroom interactions.

The role of science fiction  as an effective aid in teaching abstract concepts is well known. I remember having used films such as `Fantastic Voyage' based on the popular novel of the same name by the Russian American writer Isaac Asimov, when teaching human biology at the middle school level. In fact I read translated versions of Fantastic Voyage and many other science fiction stories in Tamil language magazines way back in the early '60s when I was a school boy.

Arthur C Clark and Isaac Asimov were two of my most favourite authors. As I grew up, I read the original English versions of such works. I also liked to gift away some of these novels to people like Arun, brother of my divorced wife. Arun not only shared my interest in science fiction but was also an excellently mannered young man, whom I continue to respect.    

I had the pleasure of using several science fiction films and videos to teach curricular subjects. When teaching in remote villages in Ethiopia and Bhutan, I had to rely on science fiction material very much.

In Shire, Endasellassie in Ethiopia, I felt the need to build a collection of appropriate science fiction materials for use in my classes in a situation in which there was absolutely no chance of using any laboratory. Once I had requested Mr Arthur C Clarke to let me know of any sci-fi resource for use in classrooms for which he was kind enough to reply as shown in the following scanned copy of his letter to me:

I continued reading his books, watching his films and using them in my classrooms until I came to know that he was an atheist.  I think that any person will be able to function normally only if she or he believes in God.

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.