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Valuing Uncertainty

Our world is complex and growing more so every day. It is no longer enough to shape learners who know. For our students to be truly successful they must also be brave in the face of not-knowing.
Caitlin (Cat) Lynch, Artist Educator

In his book Ignorance: How It Drives ScienceStuart Firestein, Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, notes, “Scientists don't concentrate on what they know, which is considerable but also miniscule, but rather on what they don't know. The one big fact is that science traffics in ignorance, cultivates it, and is driven by it.” He adds, “Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt. There is no surer way to screw up an experiment than to be certain of its outcome.”

In A Can of WormsNick Terrones explores how he values uncertainty and risk in the classroom, “I want to stay true to my goals for children and myself, goals which are less about content-driven teaching and learning, or focusing on developmental skills, and more about practicing thinking about complex ideas and about becoming comfortable with uncertainty… This has been (and continues to be) a learning process for me! I’ve worked to feel comfortable with my own discomfort when complex issues come up in the classroom, and to be as compassionate with myself as I am with the children when I’m unsure how to respond.”

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