I was recently asked how to teach children skepticism. How do we teach them to question, experiment, evaluate results?
Then it came to me. The perfect tool to teach children skepticism.
Growing up, we had one flavor of ice cream in our house. Chocolate. Growing up in Texas, there was only one brand… Blue Bell. It wasn’t until my 30s that I discovered that I really liked mint chocolate chip as well and some other flavors. And I preferred a creamier ice cream.
So that would be my idea for lesson for young children in skepticism.
Talk to the class or group about tradition and how many people do things just because that’s what they were taught or what they had at home. It doesn’t mean that you can’t explore the world and ask questions.
Then ask them about the ice cream that their parents always get. What brand is it? What flavor(s)? How often do they get new flavors? That sort of thing.
Now we get to the experiment part, the research, if you will. Have the kids think about what factors are important in ice cream. You’ll be looking for answers like: taste, creaminess, sweetness, soft/hard, ect.
Have each child make a chart with these factors.
Then bring out the ice cream. Remind them that this is “serious” science and to carefully record their observations. They just need one or two bites of each flavor and brand. Have them discuss the factors and how they like each new flavor and brand.
Once the tasting is done and everyone is nice and wired up, start a discussion on skepticism and what other ideas that are “family traditions” (for lack of a better term) that could be questioned.
We’ve introduced the idea of questioning and researching/investigating to children.