Writing news and current events for almost 10 years, I can say by heart that information is as fragile as a glass. Trivial details for some are actually notable specifics for us. Little-little pass along information, especially verbally transmitted ones are very prone to dwindling contents and spinning perspectives.
In our world today, where I consider myself as a native, information technology is not just rapidly mobilizing, it is also instantaneously changing —with some clicks there and posts here; it can ruin a life or a society. So what is left for science teachers like us? Where the truth is as difficult as finding a needle in the hay as what the old adage says.
Most of my students have their own blogs, in that virtual book or diary, which they call their ‘private place’, they write all their ideas, sentiments and experiences. This ‘private place’ of theirs can actually reach a lot of young people like them, it has this certain power to extend their minds to other who are willing to read their thoughts and accept it as real information.
But what is frightening about this is the lack of filtering capacity of the young people nowadays. The whispering to millions in the speed of light in the essay of RaamDev in the Broken Telephone is the very depiction of our students’ daily activity in the net. These days’ students are so much into the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace and Pinterest. On Facebook alone, 750 000 million subscribers are actively using social network to comment on a friend’s wall, comment on friends’ pictures, watch videos, share video/photo/message, send private messages to friends, send IM or text messages using the site and send group messages. Also, 93% of teens ages 12-17 go online, 73% of teens are on a social network, 15 hours and 33 minutes average access in a week, and the average teen have 201 Facebook friends (http://www.statisticbrain.com).
So the real challenge for science teachers like us is to understand how our students think and spread their minds using these technologies, teaching them how to filter the right from wrong information is another major work to do. But we are not alone in doing these tasks; maybe this is our role as teachers, to realize that no matter how massive the world of science is, in terms of information and facts, it is never free from being demonized. It is never free from falsifying and so we must not stop from guarding it from fraudulent claims of the false science.
With this, I want to end this article by sharing a recent experience. Few years back, my youngest sister was diagnosed of Chronic Kidney Diasease (CKD). The doctors said that she has to undergo kidney transplantation and this has to be done immediately so as to lessen the negative effects on other internal organs like the heart, lungs and liver. Our family, being a middle class worried about expenses, as we all know millions are always involve when it comes to major surgeries. I told my parents that we really have to follow what the nephrologists told us, but my mother (maybe because of worries) said that she heard that kidney transplant may not be the best option; she said maybe we can still find another cure.
To relieve my sister from her condition, we kept on searching for other possible cure apart from the transplant procedure. We tried Rapid Cellular Balancing of a famous Biochemical Physician, who claims that drinking some sets of medicine and eating specific set of food will eliminate all toxins in my sister’s body and will help her kidney recuperate.
That time, I also asked myself, I am a Chemistry teacher yet I am persuading myself that the claim is possible? I know that nephrons (working units of kidney) cannot recuperate once broken, but when you are there carrying the burden of an ill family member, you really hope for miracles, you are making yourself believe that science and all the facts it carries may be false at some rate.
But the situation was not reverted, after few months we have to accept that she will undergo hemodialysis procedure to expel the creatinine (toxins in the blood, which the kidneys are filtering) in her body to keep her lucid.
January of this year, despite all the negative information we hear about the procedure, we decided to reconsider kidney transplantation. We seek for relatives who are willing to give one of their kidneys since, we, her siblings did not pass in the cross matching process. That time, I was able to prove to myself that all the negative information that is roaming around the country about kidney transplantation is completely WRONG.
Then I realized that the procedure is not as difficult as what other people say about it, neither it is as frightening as others describe it. On the 4th of April, my sister got her new kidney from my cousin after four-hours of surgery. Few weeks after she can walk steadily, eat and bath herself, after a month she can go up and down the stairs and after five months she’s now ably doing her job as an auditor.
All these experiences led me to the conclusion that information is indeed very important, like what RaamDev shared about his grandfather, false information can hurt most when it involves our family.
Maybe this is where we should start; we have to teach our students how to use the technology properly, we have to make them realize how important sharing good information and factual data is, not for good grades, not for freedom of speech, not just for academic exercise, not even for financial rewards but for the lives of the ones we love most —our family.