Religions are often the state-protected nurseries of pseudoscience, although there's no reason why reli- gions have to play that role. In a way, it's an artefact from times long gone. In some countries nearly everyone believes in astrology and precognition, including government leaders. But this is not simply drummed into them by religion; it is drawn out of the enveloping culture in which everyone is comfortable with these practices, and affirming testimonials are everywhere. Most of the case histories I will relate in this book are American - because these are the cases 1 know best, not because pseudoscience and mysticism are more prominent in the United States than elsewhere.
But the psychic spoonbender and extraterrestrial channeller Uri Geller hails from Israel. As tensions rise between Algerian secularists and Muslim funda- mentalists, more and more people are discreetly consulting the country's 10, soothsayers and clairvoyants about half of whom operate with a licence from the government.
High French officials, including a former President of France, arranged for millions of dollars to be invested in a scam the Elf-Aquitaine scandal to find new petroleum reserves from the air. In Germany, there is concern about carcinogenic 'Earth rays' undetectable by science; they can be sensed only by experienced dowsers brandishing forked sticks. Ghosts are something of a national obsession in Britain. Since World War Two, Japan has spawned enormous numbers of new religions featuring the supernatural.
An estimated , fortune-tellers flourish in Japan; the clientele are mainly young women. Followers, at a high price, drank the 'miracle pond' water - from the bath of Asahara, their leader. In Thailand, diseases are treated with pills manufactured from pulverized sacred Scripture. Australian peace-keeping forces in Haiti rescue a woman tied to a tree; she is accused of flying from rooftop to rooftop, and sucking the blood of children.
Astrology is rife in India, geomancy widespread in China.
Perhaps the most successful recent global pseudoscience - by many criteria, already a religion - is the Hindu doctrine of transcendental meditation TM. The soporific homilies of its founder and spiritual leader, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, can be seen on television in America. Seated in the yogi position, his white hair here and there flecked with black, surrounded by garlands and floral offerings, he has a look.
One day while channel surfing we came upon this visage. For a fee they promise through meditation to be able to walk you through walls, to make you invisible, to enable you to fly. By thinking in unison they have, they say, diminished the crime rate in Washing- ton DC and caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, among other secular miracles. Not one smattering of real evidence has been offered for any such claims. TM sells folk medicine, runs trading companies, medical clinics and 'research' universities, and has unsuccessfully entered politics.
In its oddly charismatic leader, its promise of community, and the offer of magical powers in exchange for money and fervent belief, it is typical of many pseudosciences marketed for sacerdotal export. At each relinquishing of civil controls and scientific education, another little spurt in pseudoscience occurs. Leon Trotsky described it for Germany on the eve of the Hitler takeover but in a description that might equally have applied to the Soviet Union of : Not only in peasant homes, but also in city skyscrapers, there lives alongside the twentieth century the thirteenth.
A hun- dred million people use electricity and still believe in the 20 The Most Precious Thing magic powers of signs and exorcisms. Movie stars go to mediums. Aviators who pilot miraculous mechanisms created by man's genius wear amulets on their sweaters. What inexhaustible reserves they possess of darkness, ignorance and savagery!
Russia is an instructive case. Under the Tsars, religious supersti- tion was encouraged, but scientific and sceptical thinking - except by a few tame scientists - was ruthlessly expunged. Under Communism, both religion and pseudoscience were systematically suppressed - except for the superstition of the state ideological religion. It was advertised as scientific, but fell as far short of this ideal as the most unself-critical mystery cult.
Critical thinking - except by scientists in hermetically sealed compartments of know- ledge - was recognized as dangerous, was not taught in the schools, and was punished where expressed. As a result, post- Communism, many Russians view science with suspicion. When the lid was lifted, as was also true of virulent ethnic hatreds, what had all along been bubbling subsurface was exposed to view.
The region is now awash in UFOs, poltergeists, faith healers, quack medicines, magic waters and old-time superstition. A stunning decline in life expectancy, increasing infant mortality, rampant epidemic disease, subminimal medical standards and ignorance of preventive medicine all work to raise the threshold at which scepticism is triggered in an increasingly desperate population.
As I write, the electorally most popular member of the Duma, a leading supporter of the ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, is one Anatoly Kashpirovsky - a faith healer who remotely cures diseases ranging from hernias to AIDS by glaring at you out of your television set. His face starts stopped clocks.
A somewhat analogous situation exists in China. After the death of Mao Zedong and the gradual emergence of a market economy, UFOs, channelling and other examples of Western pseudoscience emerged, along with such ancient Chinese practices as ancestor worship, astrology and fortune telling - especially that version that involves throwing yarrow sticks and working through the hoary tetragrams of the I Ching. It was and remains a rural, not primarily an urban, affliction. Individuals with 'special powers' gained enormous follow- ings.
They could, they said, project Qi, the 'energy field of the Universe', out of their bodies to change the molecular structure of a chemical 2, kilometres away, to communicate with aliens, to cure diseases. Some patients died under the ministra- tions of one of these 'masters ofQi Gong' who was arrested and convicted in Wang Hongcheng, an amateur chemist, claimed to have synthesized a liquid, small amounts of which, when added to water, would convert it to gasoline or the equivalent. For a time he was funded by the army and the secret police, but when his invention was found to be a scam he was arrested and imprisoned.
Naturally the story spread that his misfortune resulted not from fraud, but from his unwillingness to reveal his 'secret formula' to the government. Similar stories have circulated in America for decades, usually with the government role replaced by a major oil or auto company. Asian rhinos are being driven to extinction because their horns, when pulverized, are said to prevent impotence; the market encompasses all of East Asia. The government of China and the Chinese Communist Party were alarmed by certain of these developments.
On 5 December , they issued a joint proclamation that read in part: [Pjublic education in science has been withering in recent years. At the same time, activities of superstition and igno- rance have been growing, and antiscience and pseudoscience cases have become frequent. Therefore, effective measures must be applied as soon as possible to strengthen public education in science. The level of public education in science and technology is an important sign of the national scientific accomplishment. It is a matter of overall importance in economic development, scientific advance, and the progress of society.
We must be attentive and implement such public education as part of the strategy to modernize our socialist country and to make our nation powerful and prosperous. Ignorance is never socialist, nor is poverty. Its causes, dangers, diagnosis and treatment are likely to be similar every- where. Here, psychics ply their wares on extended television commercials, personally endorsed by entertainers.
They have their own channel, the 'Psychic Friends Network'; a million people a year sign on and use such guidance in their everyday lives. Royalty has traditionally been vulnerable to psychic frauds. In ancient China and Rome astrol- ogy was the exclusive property of the emperor; any private use of this potent art was considered a capital offence. Emerging from a particularly credulous Southern California culture, Nancy and Ronald Reagan relied on an astrologer in private and public matters - unknown to the voting public.
Some portion of the decision-making that influences the future of our civilization is plainly in the hands of charlatans. If anything, the practice is comparatively muted in America; its venue is worldwide. As amusing as some of pseudoscience may seem, as confident as we may be that we would never be so gullible as to be swept up by such a doctrine, we know it's happening all around us. Transcen- dental meditation and Aum Shinrikyo seem to have attracted a large number of accomplished people, some with advanced degrees in physics or engineering. These are not doctrines for nitwits.
Something else is going on. What's more, no one interested in what religions are and how they begin can ignore them. While vast barriers may seem to stretch between a local, single-focus contention of pseudoscience and something like a world religion, the partitions are very thin. The world presents us with nearly insurmountable problems. A wide variety of solutions are offered, some of very limited worldview, some of portentous sweep. In the usual Darwinian natural selection of doctrines, some thrive for a time, while most quickly vanish.
The continuum stretching from ill-practised science, pseudo- science and superstition New Age or Old , all the way to respectable mystery religion, based on revelation, is indistinct. Everyone, it turns out, has relevant expertise. In certain passages of this book 1 will be critical of the excesses of theology, because at the extremes it is difficult to distinguish pseudoscience from rigid, doctrinaire religion. Nevertheless, 1 want to acknowledge at the outset the prodigious diversity and complexity of religious thought and practice over the millennia; the growth of liberal religion and ecumenical fellowship during the last century; and the fact that - as in the Protestant Reformation, the rise of Reform Judaism, Vatican II, and the so-called higher criticism of the Bible - religion has fought with varying degrees of success its own excesses.
But in parallel to the many scientists who seem reluctant to debate or even publicly discuss pseudo- science, many proponents of mainstream religions are reluctant to take on extreme conservatives and fundamentalists. If the trend continues, eventually the field is theirs; they can win the debate by default.
One religious leader writes to me of his longing for 'disciplined integrity' in religion: We have grown far too sentimental. Devotionalism and cheap psychology on one side, and arrogance and dogmatic intolerance on the other distort authentic religious life almost beyond recognition. Sometimes I come close to despair, but then I live tenaciously and always with hope.
Honest religion, more familiar than its critics with the distortions and absurdities perpetrated in its name, has an active interest in encouraging a healthy skepticism for its own purposes. There is the possibility for religion and science to forge a potent partnership against pseudo-science.
Strangely, I think it would soon be engaged also in opposing pseudo-religion. The Most Precious Thing Pseudoscience differs from erroneous science. Science thrives on errors, cutting them away one by one. False conclusions are drawn all the time, but they are drawn tentatively. Hypotheses are framed so they are capable of being disproved. A succession of alternative hypotheses is confronted by experiment and observa- tion. Science gropes and staggers toward improved understand- ing. Proprietary feelings are of course offended when a scientific hypothesis is disproved, but such disproofs are recognized as central to the scientific enterprise.
Pseudoscience is just the opposite. Hypotheses are often framed precisely so they are invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle they cannot be invalidated. Practitioners are defensive and wary. Sceptical scrutiny is opposed. When the pseudoscientific hypothesis fails to catch fire with scien- tists, conspiracies to suppress it are deduced. Motor ability in healthy people is almost perfect. We rarely stumble and fall, except in young and old age. We can learn tasks such as riding a bicycle or skating or skipping, jumping rope or driving a car, and retain that mastery for the rest of our lives.
Even if we've gone a decade without doing it, it comes back to us effortlessly. The precision and retention of our motor skills may, however, give us a false sense of confidence in our other talents. Our perceptions are fallible. We sometimes see what isn't there. We are prey to optical illusions. Occasionally we hallucinate. We are error-prone. A most illuminating book called How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life, by Thomas Gilovich, shows how people systematically err in understanding numbers, in rejecting unpleasant evidence, in being influenced by the opinions of others.
We're good in some things, but not in everything. Wisdom lies in understanding our limitations. That's where the stuffy sceptical rigour of science comes in. Perhaps the sharpest distinction between science and pseudo- science is that science has a far keener appreciation of human imperfections and fallibility than does pseudoscience or 'inerrant' revelation. But if we are capable of a little courageous self- assessment, whatever rueful reflections they may engender, our chances improve enormously.
If we teach only the findings and products of science - no matter how useful and even inspiring they may be - without communicat- ing its critical method, how can the average person possibly distinguish science from pseudoscience? Both then are presented as unsupported assertion. In Russia and China, it used to be easy. Authoritative science was what the authorities taught. The distinc- tion between science and pseudoscience was made for you.
No perplexities needed to be muddled through. But when profound political changes occurred and strictures on free thought were loosened, a host of confident or charismatic claims - especially those that told us what we wanted to hear - gained a vast following. Every notion, however improbable, became authorita- tive.
It is a supreme challenge for the popularizer of science to make clear the actual, tortuous history of its great discoveries and the misapprehensions and occasional stubborn refusal by its practi- tioners to change course. Many, perhaps most, science textbooks for budding scientists tread lightly here. It is enormously easier to present in an appealing way the wisdom distilled from centuries of patient and collective interrogation of Nature than to detail the messy distillation apparatus.
The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science. One asked the other to lift him up. But so beautiful was it in heaven that the man who looked in over the edge forgot everything, forgot his companion whom he had promised to help up and simply ran off into all the splendour of heaven. The crystallizing moment came when 1 first caught on that the stars are mighty suns, when it first dawned on me how staggeringly far away they must be to appear as mere points of light in the sky.
I'm not sure 1 even knew the meaning of the word 'science' then, but I wanted somehow to immerse myself in all that grandeur. I was gripped by the splendour of the Universe, transfixed by the prospect of understanding how things really work, of helping to uncover deep mysteries, of exploring new worlds - maybe even literally. It has been my good fortune to have had that dream in part fulfilled.
For me, the romance of science remains as appealing and new as it was on that day, more than half a century ago, when I was shown the wonders of the World's Fair. Not explaining science seems to me perverse. When you're in love, you want to tell the world. This book is a personal statement, reflecting my lifelong love affair with science. But there's another reason: science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the second sound bites now down to 10 seconds or less , lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.
As 1 write, the number one video cassette rental in America is the movie Dumb and Dumber. Beavis and Butthead remains popular and influential with young TV viewers. The plain lesson is that study and learning - not just of science, but of anything - are avoidable, even undesirable. We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements - transportation, communications, and all other indus- tries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting - profoundly depend on science and technology.
We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces. A Candle in the Dark is the title of a courageous, largely Biblically based, book by Thomas Ady, published in London in 28 Science and Hope , attacking the witch-hunts then in progress as a scam 'to delude the people'.
Any illness or storm, anything out of the ordinary, was popularly attributed to witchcraft. Witches must exist, Ady quoted the 'witchmongers' as arguing, 'else how should these things be, or come to pass? Science is an attempt, largely successful, to understand the world, to get a grip on things, to get hold of ourselves, to steer a safe course. Microbiology and meteorology now explain what only a few centuries ago was considered sufficient cause to burn women to death. Ady also warned of the danger that 'the Nations [will] perish for lack of knowledge'.
Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us - then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.
The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir. There is much that science doesn't understand, many mysteries still to be resolved. In a Universe tens of billions of light years across and some ten or fifteen billion years old, this may be the case forever.
We are constantly stumbling on surprises. Yet some New Age and religious writers assert that scientists believe that 'what they find is all there is'. Scientists may reject mystic revelations for which there is no evidence except somebody's say-so, but they hardly believe their knowledge of Nature to be complete. Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It's just the best we have. Science by itself cannot advocate courses of human action, but it can certainly illuminate the possible consequences of alternative courses of action.
The scientific way of thinking is at once imaginative and disciplined. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don't conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous sceptical scrutiny of everything - new ideas and established wisdom.
This kind of thinking is also an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change. One of the reasons for its success is that science has built-in, error-correcting machinery at its very heart. Some may consider this an overbroad characterization, but to me every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test our ideas against the outside world, we are doing science.
When we are self-indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts, we slide into pseudoscience and superstition. Every time a scientific paper presents a bit of data, it's accompanied by an error bar - a quiet but insistent reminder that no knowledge is complete or perfect. It's a calibration of how much we trust what we think we know.
If the error bars are small, the accuracy of our empirical knowledge is high; if the error bars are large, then so is the uncertainty in our knowledge. Except in pure mathematics nothing is known for certain although much is certainly false. Moreover, scientists are usually careful to characterize the veridical status of their attempts to understand the world - ranging from conjectures and hypotheses, which are highly tentative, all the way up to laws of Nature which are repeatedly and systemati- cally confirmed through many interrogations of how the world works.
But even laws of Nature are not absolutely certain. There may be new circumstances never before examined - inside black holes, say, or within the electron, or close to the speed of light - where even our vaunted laws of Nature break down and, however valid they may be in ordinary circumstances, need correction. Humans may crave absolute certainty; they may aspire to it; 30 Science and Hope they may pretend, as partisans of certain religions do, to have attained it.
But the history of science - by far the most successful claim to knowledge accessible to humans - teaches that the most we can hope for is successive improvement in our understanding, learning from our mistakes, an asymptotic approach to the Universe, but with the proviso that absolute certainty will always elude us. We will always be mired in error.
The most each generation can hope for is to reduce the error bars a little, and to add to the body of data to which error bars apply. The error bar is a pervasive, visible self-assessment of the reliability of our knowledge. You often see error bars in public opinion polls 'an uncertainty of plus or minus three per cent', say.
Imagine a society in which every speech in the Congressional Record, every television commercial, every sermon had an accompanying error bar or its equivalent. One of the great commandments of science is, 'Mistrust argu- ments from authority'. Scientists, being primates, and thus given to dominance hierarchies, of course do not always follow this commandment. Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else.
This independence of science, its occasional unwillingness to accept conventional wisdom, makes it dangerous to doctrines less self-critical, or with pretensions to certitude. Because science carries us toward an understanding of how the world is, rather than how we would wish it to be, its findings may not in all cases be immediately comprehensible or satisfying.
It may take a little work to restructure our mindsets. Some of science is very simple. When it gets complicated, that's usually because the world is complicated - or because we're complicated. When we shy away from it because it seems too difficult or because we've been taught so poorly , we surrender the ability to take charge of our future. We are disenfranchised. Our self- confidence erodes. But when we pass beyond the barrier, when the findings and methods of science get through to us, when we understand and put this knowledge to use, many feel deep satisfaction.
I know personally, both from having science explained to me and from my attempts to explain it to others, how gratifying it is when we get it, when obscure terms suddenly take on meaning, when we grasp what all the fuss is about, when deep wonders are revealed. In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe. The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnifi- cence of the Cosmos.
And the cumulative worldwide build-up of knowledge over time converts science into something only a little short of a trans-national, trans-generational meta-mind. What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word 'spiritual' that we are talking of anything other than matter including the matter of which the brain is made , or anything outside the realm of science.
Strangled by the Red String
On occasion, I will feel free to use the word. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.
The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both. Science may be hard to understand. It may challenge cherished beliefs. When its products are placed at the disposal of politicians or industrialists, it may lead to weapons of mass destruction and grave threats to the environment. But one thing you have to say about it: it delivers the goods. Not every branch of science can foretell the future - palaeontology can't - but many can and with stunning accuracy.
If you want to know when the next eclipse of the Sun will be, you might try magicians or mystics, but you'll do much better with scientists. They 32 Science and Hope will tell you where on Earth to stand, when you have to be there, and whether it will be a partial eclipse, a total eclipse, or an annular eclipse. They can routinely predict a solar eclipse, to the minute, a millennium in advance. You can go to the witch doctor to lift the spell that causes your pernicious anaemia, or you can take vitamin B,, If you want to save your child from polio, you can pray or you can inoculate.
If you're interested in the sex of your unborn child, you can consult plumb-bob danglers all you want left-right, a boy; forward-back, a girl - or maybe it's the other way around , but they'll be right, on average, only one time in two. If you want real accuracy here, 99 per cent accuracy , try amniocentesis and sono- grams.
Try science. Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophe- cies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? There isn't a religion on the planet that doesn't long for a comparable ability - precise, and repeatedly demonstrated before committed sceptics - to foretell future events.
No other human institution comes close. Is this worshipping at the altar of science? Is this replacing one faith by another, equally arbitrary? In my view, not at all. The directly observed success of science is the reason I advocate its use. If something else worked better, 1 would advocate the something else. Does science insulate itself from philosophical criticism? Does it define itself as having a monopoly on the 'truth'?
Think again of that eclipse a thousand years in the future. Compare as many doctrines as you can think of, note what predictions they make of the future, which ones are vague, which ones are precise, and which doctrines - every one of them subject to human fallibility - have error-correcting mechanisms built in. Take account of the fact that not one of them is perfect. Then simply pick the one that in a fair comparison works best as opposed to feels best.
If different doctrines are superior in quite separate and independent fields, we are of course free to choose several - but not if they contradict one another. Far from being idolatry, this is the means by which we can distinguish the false idols from the real thing. There are no forbidden questions in science, no matters too sensitive or delicate to be probed, no sacred truths. That openness to new ideas, combined with the most rigorous, sceptical scrutiny of all ideas, sifts the wheat from the chaff.
It makes no difference how smart, august or beloved you are.
- A Necklace of Souls.
- The Baseline: 52 Week Bible Study.
- Nous sommes ce que nous mangeons (Questions de Société) (French Edition).
You must prove your case in the face of determined, expert criticism. Diversity and debate are valued. Opinions are encouraged to contend - substantively and in depth. The process of science may sound messy and disorderly. In a way, it is. If you examine science in its everyday aspect, of course you find that scientists run the gamut of human emotion, person- ality and character.
But there's one facet that is really striking to the outsider, and that is the gauntlet of criticism considered acceptable or even desirable. There is much warm and inspired encouragement of apprentice scientists by their mentors. But the poor graduate student at his or her PhD orai exam is subjected to a withering crossfire of questions from the very professors who have the candidate's future in their grasp. Naturally the students are nervous; who wouldn't be? True, they've prepared for it for years. But they understand that at this critical moment, they have to be able to answer searching questions posed by experts.
So in preparing to defend their theses, they must practise a very useful habit of thought: they must anticipate questions. They have to ask: where in my dissertation is there a weakness that someone else might find? I'd better identify it before they do. You sit in at contentious scientific meetings. You find university colloquia in which the speaker has hardly gotten thirty seconds into the talk before there are devastating questions and comments from the audience.
You examine the conventions in which a written report is submitted to a scientific journal for possible publication, then is conveyed by the editor to anonymous referees whose job it is to ask: did the author do anything stupid? Is there anything in here that is sufficiently interesting to be published? What are the deficiencies of this paper? Have the main results been found by anybody else? Is the argument adequate, or should the paper be resubmitted after the author has actually demon- strated what is here only speculated on? And it's anonymous: the 34 Science and Hope author doesn't know who the critics are.
Full text of "The Demon Haunted World"
This is the everyday expectation in the scientific community. Why do we put up with it? Do we like to be criticized? No, no scientist enjoys it. Every scientist feels a proprietary affection for his or her ideas and findings. Even so, you don't reply to critics, wait a minute; this is a really good idea; I'm very fond of it; it's done you no harm; please leave it alone. Instead, the hard but just rule is that if the ideas don't work, you must throw them away.
Don't waste neurons on what doesn't work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data. The British physicist Michael Faraday warned of the powerful temptation to seek for such evidence and appearances as are in the favour of our desires, and to disregard those which oppose them. We receive as friendly that which agrees with [us], we resist with dislike that which opposes us; whereas the very reverse is required by every dictate of common sense. Valid criticism does you a favour. Some people consider science arrogant - especially when it purports to contradict beliefs of long standing or when it intro- duces bizarre concepts that seem contradictory to common sense; like an earthquake that rattles our faith in the very ground we're standing on, challenging our accustomed beliefs, shaking the doctrines we have grown to rely upon, can be profoundly disturb- ing.
Nevertheless, I maintain that science is part and parcel humility. Scientists do not seek to impose their needs and wants on Nature, but instead humbly interrogate Nature and take seriously what they find. We are aware that revered scientists have been wrong. We understand human imperfection. We insist on independent and - to the extent possible - quantitative verifica- tion of proposed tenets of belief. We are constantly prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy.
We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs. Three hundred years later we use Newtonian dynamics to predict those eclipses. Years after launch, billions of miles from Earth with only tiny corrections from Einstein , the spacecraft beautifully arrives at a predetermined point in the orbit of the target world, just as the world comes ambling by.
The accuracy is astonishing. Plainly, Newton knew what he was doing. But scientists have not been content to leave well enough alone. They have persistently sought chinks in the Newtonian armour. At high speeds and strong gravities, Newtonian physics breaks down. This is one of the great findings of Albert Einstein's Special and General Relativity, and is one of the reasons his memory is so greatly honoured.
Newtonian physics is valid over a wide range of conditions including those of everyday life. But in certain circum- stances highly unusual for human beings - we are not, after all, in the habit of travelling near light speed - it simply doesn't give the right answer; it does not conform to observations of Nature.
Special and General Relativity are indistinguishable from Newto- nian physics in its realm of validity, but make very different predictions - predictions in excellent accord with observation - in those other regimes high speed, strong gravity. Newtonian physics turns out to be an approximation to the truth, good in circumstances with which we are routinely familiar, bad in others. It is a splendid and justly celebrated accomplishment of the human mind, but it has its limitations. However, in accord with our understanding of human fallibility, heeding the counsel that we may asymptotically approach the truth but will never fully reach it, scientists are today investigating regimes in which General Relativity may break down.
For exam- ple, General Relativity predicts a startling phenomenon called gravitational waves. They have never been detected directly. But if they do not exist, there is something fundamentally wrong with General Relativity. Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars whose flicker rates can now be measured to fifteen decimal places. Two very dense pulsars in orbit around each other are predicted to radiate copious quantities of gravitational waves, which will in time slightly alter the orbits and rotation periods of the two stars.
For all they knew, the results would be inconsistent with General Relativity and they would have over- turned one of the chief pillars of modern physics. Not only were they willing to challenge General Relativity, they were widely encouraged to do so. As it turns out, the observations of binary pulsars give a precise verification of the predictions of General Relativity, and for this Taylor and Hulse were co-recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
In diverse ways, many other physi- cists are testing General Relativity, for example by attempting directly to detect the elusive gravitational waves. They hope to strain the theory to the breaking point and discover whether a regime of Nature exists in which Einstein's great advance in understanding in turn begins to fray. These efforts will continue as long as there are scientists.
General Relativity is certainly an inadequate description of Nature at the quantum level, but even if that were not the case, even if General Relativity were everywhere and forever valid, what better way of convincing ourselves of its validity than a concerted effort to discover its failings and limitations? This is one of the reasons that the organized religions do not inspire me with confidence. Which leaders of the major faiths acknowledge that their beliefs might be incomplete or erroneous and establish institutes to uncover possible doctrinal deficiencies?
Beyond the test of everyday living, who is systematically testing the circumstances in which traditional religious teachings may no longer apply? It is certainly conceivable that doctrines and ethics that may have worked fairly well in patriarchal or patristic or medieval times might be thoroughly invalid in the very different world we inhabit today. What sermons even-handedly examine the God hypothesis? What rewards are religious sceptics given by the established religions - or, for that matter, social and economic sceptics by the society in which they swim? Science, Ann Druyan notes, is forever whispering in our ears, 'Remember, you're very new at this.
You might be mistaken. You've been wrong before. But what if it's simply made up by fallible humans? Miracles are attested, but what if they're instead some mix of charlatanry, unfamiliar states of consciousness, misapprehensions of natural phenomena and mental illness? No contemporary religion and no New Age belief seems to me to take sufficient account of the grandeur, magnifi- cence, subtlety and intricacy of the Universe revealed by science. The fact that so little of the findings of modern science is prefigured in Scripture to my mind casts further doubt on its divine inspiration.
But of course 1 might be wrong. Read the following two paragraphs - not to understand the science described, but to get a feeling for the author's style of thinking. He is facing anomalies, apparent paradoxes in physics; 'asymmetries' he calls them. What can we learn from them? It is known that Maxwell's electrodynamics - as usually understood at the present time - when applied to moving bodies, leads to asymmetries which do not appear to be inherent in the phenomena. Take, for example, the recipro- cal electrodynamic action of a magnet and a conductor.
The observable phenomenon here depends only on the relative motion of the conductor and the magnet, whereas the cus- tomary view draws a sharp distinction between the two cases in which either the one or the other of these bodies is in motion. For if the magnet is in motion and the conductor at rest, there arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet an electric field with a certain definite energy, producing a current at the places where parts of the conductor are situated.
But if the magnet is stationary and the conductor in motion, no electric field arises in the neighbourhood of the magnet. In the conductor, however, we find an electromotive force, to which in itself there is no corresponding energy, but which gives rise - assuming equality of relative motion in the two cases discussed - to electric currents of the same path and intensity as those produced by the electric forces in the former case. They suggest rather that, as has already been shown to the first order of small quantities, the same laws of electrodynamics and optics will be valid for all frames of reference for which the equations of mechanics hold good.
What is the author trying to tell us here? I'll try to explain the background later in this book. For now, we can perhaps recognize that the language is spare, technical, cautious, clear, and not a jot more complicated than it need be. You would not offhand guess from how it's phrased or from its unostentatious title, 'On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies' that this article represents the crucial arrival of the theory of Special Relativity into the world, the gateway to the triumphant announcement of the equivalence of mass and energy, the deflation of the conceit that our small world occupies some 'privileged reference frame' in the Universe, and in several different ways an epochal event in human history.
The opening words of Albert Einstein's paper are characteristic of the scientific report. It is refreshingly unselfserv- ing, circumspect, understated. Contrast its restrained tone with, say, the products of modern advertising, political speeches, authoritative theological pronouncements - or for that matter the blurb on the cover of this book. Notice how Einstein's paper begins by trying to make sense of experimental results.
Wherever possible, scientists experiment. Which experiments suggest themselves often depends on which theories currently prevail. Scientists are intent on testing those theories to the breaking point. They do not trust what is intuitively obvious. That the Earth is flat was once obvious. That heavy bodies fall faster than light ones was once obvious. That blood- sucking leeches cure most diseases was once obvious. That some people are naturally and by divine decree slaves was once obvious. That there is such a place as the centre of the Universe, and that the Earth sits in that exalted spot was once obvious.
The truth may be puzzling or counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held beliefs. Experiment is how we get a handle on it. At a dinner many decades ago, the physicist Robert W. Wood was asked to respond to the toast, 'To physics and metaphysics'. By 'metaphysics', people then meant something like philosophy, or truths you could recognize just by thinking about them. They could also have included pseudoscience. Wood answered along these lines: the physicist has an idea.
The more he thinks it through, the more sense it seems to make. He consults the scientific literature. The more he reads, the more promising the idea becomes. Thus prepared, he goes to the laboratory and devises an experiment to test it. The experiment is painstaking. Many possibilities are checked. The accuracy of measurement is refined, the error bars reduced. He lets the chips fall where they may. He is devoted only to what the experiment teaches. At the end of all this work, through careful experimentation, the idea is found to be worthless.
So the physicist discards it, frees his mind from the clutter of error, and moves on to something else. The difference is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory. For me, there are four main reasons for a concerted effort to convey science - on radio and TV, in movies, newspapers, books, computer programs, theme parks and classrooms - to every citizen.
In all uses of science, it is insufficient - indeed it is dangerous - to produce only a small, highly competent, well- rewarded priesthood of professionals. Instead, some fundamental understanding of the findings and methods of science must be available on the broadest scale. It makes national economies and the global civilization run. Many nations understand this.
It is why so many graduate students in science and engineering at American graduate schools - still the best in the world - are from other countries. The corollary, one that the United States sometimes fails to grasp, is that abandoning science is the road back into poverty and backwardness.
Science alerts us to the perils introduced by our world-altering technologies, especially to the global environment on which our lives depend. Science provides an essential early warning system. Science teaches us about the deepest issues of origins, natures and fates-of our species, of life, of our planet, of the Universe. For the first time in human history we are able to secure a real understanding of some of these matters.
Every culture on Earth has addressed such issues and valued their importance. All of us feel goosebumps when we approach these grand questions. In the long run, the greatest gift of science may be in teaching us, in ways no other human endeavour has been able, some- thing about our cosmic context, about where, when and who we are.
The values of science and the values of democracy are concord- ant, in many cases indistinguishable. Science and democracy began - in their civilized incarnations - in the same time and place, Greece in the seventh and sixth centuries BC. Science confers power on anyone who takes the trouble to learn it although too many have been systematically prevented from doing so. Science thrives on, indeed requires, the free exchange of ideas; its values are antithetical to secrecy.
Science holds to no special vantage points or privileged positions. Both science and democracy encourage unconventional opinions and vigorous debate. Both demand adequate reason, coherent argument, rigorous standards of evidence and honesty. Science is a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge. If we're true to its values, it can tell us when we're being lied to. It provides a mid-course correction to our mistakes. The more widespread its language, rules and methods, the better chance we have of preserving what Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues had in mind.
But democracy can also be subverted more thoroughly through the products of science than any pre-industrial demagogue ever dreamed. Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires vigilance, dedication and cour- age. But if we don't practise these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, a world of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who saunters along.
An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on earth - scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children on television and radio and in movies, newspapers, magazines, comics and many books- might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them murder, rape, cruelty, superstition, credulity and consumerism. We keep at it, and through constant repetition many of them finally get it. What kind of society could we create if, instead, we drummed into them science and a sense of hope? Floating on the wind. What do 1 resemble? Geophysicists have flat Earths, hollow Earths, Earths with wildly bobbing axes to contend with, rapidly rising and sinking continents, plus earthquake prophets.
Botanists have plants whose passionate emotional lives can be monitored with lie detectors, anthropologists have surviving ape-men, zoologists have extant dinosaurs, and evolutionary biologists have Biblical literalists snapping at their flanks. Archaeologists have ancient astronauts, forged runes and spurious statuary.
Physicists have perpetual motion machines, an army of amateur relativity disprovers, and perhaps cold fusion. Chemists still have alchemy. Psychologists have much of psychoanalysis and almost all of parapsychology. Economists have long-range economic forecasting. Meteorologists, so far, have long-range weather forecasting, as in the sunspot-oriented Fanner's Alma- nac although long-term climate forecasting is another matter.
The pseudosciences sometimes intersect, compounding the confusion - as in telepathic searches for buried treasures from Atlantis, or astrological economic forecasting. But because I work mainly with planets, and because I've been interested in the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the pseudo- sciences that most often park themselves on my doorstep involve other worlds and what we have come so easily in our time to call 'aliens'. In the chapters immediately following, I want to lay out two recent, somewhat related pseudoscientific doctrines.
They share the possibility that human perceptual and cognitive imper- fections play a role in deceiving us on matters of great import. The first contends that a giant stone face from ages past is staring expressionlessly up at the sky from the sands of Mars. The second maintains that alien beings from distant worlds visit the Earth with casual impunity. Even when summarized so baldly, isn't there a kind of thrill in contemplating these claims?
What if such hoary science fiction ideas - resonant surely with deep human fears and longings - actually were coming to pass? Whose interest can fail to be aroused? Immersed in such material, even the crassest cynic is stirred. Are we absolutely sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we can dismiss these claims? And if hardened debunkers can sense the appeal, what must those untutored in scientific scepti- cism, like Mr 'Buckley', feel? For most of history - before spacecraft, before telescopes, when we were still largely immersed in magical thinking - the Moon was an enigma.
Almost no one thought of it as a world. What do we actually see when we look up at the Moon with the naked eye? We make out a configuration of irregular bright and dark markings - not a close representation of any familiar object. But, almost irresistibly, our eyes connect the markings, emphasiz- ing some, ignoring others. We seek a pattern and we find one.
In world myth and folklore, many images are seen: a woman weaving, stands of laurel trees, an elephant jumping off a cliff, a girl with a basket on her back, a rabbit, the lunar intestines spilled out on its surface after evisceration by an irritable flightless bird, a 44 The Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars woman pounding tapa cloth, a four-eyed jaguar. People of one culture have trouble understanding how such bizarre things could be seen by the people of another.
The most common image is the Man in the Moon. Of course, it doesn't really look like a man. Its features are lopsided, warped, drooping. There's a beefsteak or something over the left eye. And what expression does that mouth convey? NOTE: Indicator 1b is non-scored and provides information about text types and genres in the program. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
A large number or texts come from authors that are well-known, award-winning or iconic. A number of undisputed classic texts are present, including works for male, female, and multicultural authors. There is sufficient effort to include texts on topics of current interest or select older texts that have a potential to resonate with contemporary students. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level. Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level and consider a range of student interests.
Over the course of a year, students are exposed to a variety of text types including, short stories, poems, drama, and essays. The materials provide a Table of Contents per unit that lists the text titles, authors, and text type. Examples of the distribution of text types to meet the criteria for this indicator include, but are not limited to:. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.
The materials include a variety of texts that are appropriate for 9th grade students and range in complexity. Texts that are moderate in complexity are accompanied by tasks that increase the level of rigor by demanding higher order thinking skills and analyses. Texts that are exceedingly complex are accompanied by a variety of scaffolds such as graphic organizers and discussion questions. Texts range in quantitative measure from Lexile to Lexile as well as challenging texts such as excerpts from The Odyssey.
Texts that fall below the Grade 9 quantitative band include qualitative features or reader and task considerations that make them appropriate for Grade 9 students. For example:. Texts that rise above the Grade 9 quantitative band include qualitative features or reader and task considerations that make them appropriate for Grade 9 students. Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band. There is a clear variety and appropriate leveling of texts. The complexity of texts varies from passage to passage with each unit representing a range of text types and complexity levels.
Questions increase in rigor throughout the year for some literacy skills. For example, the first three units study literary elements. Students work through the narrative structure, characterization and point of view, and setting, mood and imagery. In Unit 1 students are asked to compare and contrast two characters. In Unit 2 students analyze characters to describe them as either static or dynamic.
In Unit 3 students discuss how the setting impacts characters. In Unit 9 students draw conclusions about a character and analyze character motives using details from the text. However, questions placed alongside the text and after the text prompt students to identify and comment on the effect or meaning of focus text features. The level of questions does not increase significantly over the course of the year, and tasks are scaffolded and passages labeled consistently across the year.
Students do not become prepared to execute these skills on their own. Also, both writing and speaking and listening tasks are also not sequential and are all heavily scaffolded with supports and structures. Students are not growing towards independence with these skills. It is important to note that even the last two process-writes of the year, are fully outlined and supported, not allowing students more autonomy or an increase in their skills.
For example, in Unit 1 students prepare for a timed writing during Writing Workshop. Students are asked to analyze the writing task. The writing task is modeled for students with the topic and purpose underlined. The audience is circled for students. Students are then given a list of questions to help them identify the main conflict of the text before responding, revising, and editing.
At the end of the year, during Unit 5, the same process is included. Students are still being given the writing task with annotated topic, purpose, and audience as well as specific questions about literary movements to answer as they begin to write before continuing through the writing process. Skills rarely build off of previous assignments and are not practiced during the lesson. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
The materials provide text complexity analysis for texts throughout the materials. Lexiles, Fry, and Dale-Chall readability are provided in the unit overview at the beginning of each unit. There are no qualitative measurements, nor are any reader and task considerations included to create a complete text analysis. There is also no rationale included for the purpose or placement in each grade level. Examples include:. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.
Students will read a range of texts and a variety of genres but reviewers noted that additional guidance may be needed to help students develop stamina for long complex texts. Texts in the print edition are generally short works, or very short excepts pages of longer works, meaning students do not have ample opportunities to engage in reading large volumes.
The instructional materials partially meet the expectations of the criteria around alignment to the standards. Writing lessons are many and include connections to the types and on-demand requirements put forth by the standards, and the materials include support for teaching revision. The grammar instruction included partially prepares students for the needs of the grade level. The materials include a range of text dependent questions and tasks throughout each unit. Questions and tasks cover a wide continuum of standards and strategies. Each unit offers many opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based discussions and activities.
Most of the questions and tasks are text-dependent and ask students to engage with the text directly. Students are given opportunities to use evidence pulled directly from the text as well as make inferences. Most questions in the margins of the text require students to note and interpret grammatical, literary, and rhetorical features. Each excerpt has close read questions which are on the page next to the text itself for students and teachers to reference directly. Key passages are outlined in a red box with text-dependent questions for the teacher.
At the end of each selection or compared groups of selections there is a section of three to five questions sub-headed Text Analysis Questions. These questions guide students directly back to the text. Questions and tasks cover comprehension, summarizing, clarifying, drawing conclusions, making inferences evaluating, synthesizing ideas, and analyzing and identifying literary devices. Examples of these include but are not limited to:. The materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts and integrates strategies to help students build literacy skills.
Additionally, tasks often connect to a non-traditional text form such as a news report or movie scene. At the end of majority of the texts or text sets, a culminating activity is provided. Each of the culminating activities within the unit lead to a larger culminating task for the unit.
While these culminating activities seem to build off of each other, the standards associated with the writing and speaking activities are not well-supported throughout the entire unit; either through other writing tasks nor the reading questions aligned with core passages.
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The questions in the end of unit assessment based on the two new texts are mostly aligned with the reading skills presented throughout the unit but do not represent a true assessment as they appear to be printed in the student edition along with the new selections to read. Assert a claim, supported by evidence, that states whether the adaptation does justice to the original play.
The materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. This question is repeated with supporting discussion questions throughout the sets of texts.
This could be as dramatic as a raging flood or as personal as losing a parent. Discuss the qualities and abilities that a person would need to meet the test, and provide reasons for each choice. Then list all traits you generated and rank the top four, placing them in a diagram like the one shown. Tiered Discussion Prompts, accompanying texts appear in the teacher edition which provide some protocols for discussion.
There is limited guidance for small-group or peer-to-peer discussions or student-led conversation. The Speaking and Listening Handbook placed after the main units outlines basic principles and strategies for discussing and listening. Evaluate the reasons and evidence presented, and then decide whether this new information changes or modifies your opinion. In the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, a garden has also become a great spot for residents.
Have students notice aspects of Miss Lottie's garden: who created it, who maintained it, what it looks like, what plans are contained, and what it meant to people. Then have them fill in details about the African heritage garden as they read. Discuss comparisons and contrasts. This prompt, does require evidence to support, academic language or give a protocol. Throughout the unit, there are opportunities for discussion prompted by the teacher in whole class instruction. However, there are few noted opportunities for students to discuss in a variety of groupings.
Only a few mentions of small group discussion are present in the materials. Then discuss whether dignity comes mainly from within or from approval of others. Modeling of academic vocabulary is limited. Some activities include discussion about what has been read and research, and require students to prepare for group involvement. However, most activities, especially those placed at the beginnings of units, rely on opinion or life-experiences rather than research or textual evidence.
Fewer activities involve gaining understanding from multiple sources or include follow-up questions. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing e. The Grade 9 materials offer opportunities for students to write in both process and on-demand formats and incorporates technology when appropriate. Throughout the units, short-constructed, on-demand writings are found. In addition, the end of units provide a processed writing task in a Writing Workshop strategy.
The Writing Workshop strategy provides guidance in the steps of the writing process. The process writing assignments include segments on: planning, drafting, revising and editing, publishing with several opportunities for publishing. Digital publishing is often encouraged. There are a variety of Short Constructed Responses and Extended Constructed Response at the end of text sets that are on-demand writing assignments. These responses connect to one or more selections in the previous text sets. The responses vary in mode and do offer revision tips and direct the students to the thinkcentral.
The quick writes are placed at the beginning of text sets and connect to the Big question that focuses the students and provides a common theme to consider while reading the texts. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing year long that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
The 9th grade curriculum provides opportunities to meet the variety of writing styles mandated by the standards. These styles include: argumentative, explanatory, and narrative writing. Examples of opportunities for students to address the different types of writing reflected by the standards include, but are not limited to:. Throughout the materials, a variety of writing tasks provide opportunities for short response research-based, evidence-based writing.
Materials include opportunities for formal and informal writing to support analysis of poetry and prose as well as composition of arguments in which students find evidence and research to support claims. Examples include but are not limited to the following:. The materials offer grammar instruction and support over the course of the year. TT28 This page shows the progression of skills and language standards, starting with Latin roots, and moving on to dialect and language devices such as alliteration , and ending the unit with the mechanics of excerpting poetry and punctuating quotations.
Some grammar, mechanics, and conventions are taught explicitly e. The materials for Grade 9 partially meet the expectations of Gateway 2. The materials include texts organized around themes and topics to build knowledge, although the questions and tasks accompanying them only partially support students' literacy development. Vocabulary, writing, and research work may need supplementing by the teacher to ensure student profiency in these areas by the end of the school year.
The materials are divided by units with sets of text that focus on a literary element and include a title and subtitles. The subtitle notes which aspect of literacy is being addressed for the text selections. In Units are further divided by genre. The big question, text analysis, and reading skill suggestions provide opportunities for students to build knowledge and to read and comprehend texts proficiently.
Texts do not build knowledge of a topic or theme. The materials offer students opportunities to use evidence pulled directly from the text as well as make inferences while reading in order to help make meaning of the texts provided.
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Most discussion questions and tasks include analysis of language, key ideas, details and craft and structure. In the margins of the student text there are questions to call out specific details to note in the text. The sequenced questions allow for making meaning and building understanding of texts. Within the Tiered Discussion Prompts, there are questions labeled evaluate or analyze. However, questions are not scaffolded to build knowledge. The rigor of what students are being asked does not increase through the year. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
Anchor texts are accompanied by linked activities and questions before, during, after reading, which are text-dependent and text-specific. Questions placed alongside the text and after the text prompt students to identify and comment on the effect or meaning of focus text features. However, the level of questions does not increase significantly over the course of the year, and tasks are scaffolded and passages labeled consistently across the year.
There is no clear explanation of how integration of skills builds from unit to unit, with limited guidance available for teachers. There are some opportunities for students to build knowledge between multiple texts. For example, the Unit 2 focus is Characterization and Point of View.
At the end of the second text, students will respond to the following prompt integrating ideas across texts:. The Unit 6 focus is Argument and Persuasion. Although the questions in Unit 6 refer to the texts, reviewers noted that additional questions could may assist students in close reading to analyze the text. Write your observations on a chart. Students are frequently directed where to look for evidence when analyzing a text. The representation of these skills is not diverse. The materials provide culminating tasks at the end of sets as well as at the end of units.
The following examples represent culminating tasks that show mastery of skills, but not necessarily demonstration of knowledge of a topic:. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meets the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts. While there is a consistent pattern of vocabulary activity across the materials, vocabulary strategies and tasks are often repeated and lack variety in how students engage with vocabulary so students can activate new knowledge in new contexts.
Materials lack consistent protocols for presentation as well as opportunities for students to review and reuse previously learned vocabulary. Materials attempt a year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts. In this unit, students do have an opportunity to use Academic Vocabulary in Writing however a list of words is provided for students.
An example includes:. Vocabulary in Context: Diagnose word knowledge: Have all students complete and check their definitions against the following: words and definitions listed. Preteach Vocabulary: Use the copy master to help students predict meanings for each boldfaced word.
A protocol is provided:. With a partner, discuss why Athena undertakes this responsibility. What is her motivation? What does it tell us about the ancient Greeks and their religion? Use at least one Academic Vocabulary word in your discussion. Additional resources such as copy masters, can be found in the Resource Manager. Think Central is an online tool that provides additional vocabulary resources for students to practice and review vocabulary. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that materials contain a year long, cohesive plan of writing instruction and tasks which support students in building and communicating substantive understanding of topics and texts.
Writing instruction in the 9th grade curriculum includes activities and tasks that are varied, building on and expanding on the experiences and readings students complete. Due to the varied purposes, lengths, and types of texts students are responding to, students may need extra support or practice should they struggle in a skill area.
The materials do not provide increase in student demand of writing instruction over the course of the school year. Throughout the unit there are frequent writing opportunities for students. Students engage in quickwrites, constructed responses to the texts read, and culminates in students writing a Literary Criticism. All writing tasks are responses to text.
Some examples include:. You will. A number of additional writing lesson are provided for students as they work on their literary criticism. An example is as follows:. Students engage in quickwrites, constructed responses to the texts read, and culminates in students writing a short story.. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials. There is a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials.
There is a progression of skills throughout the curriculum that builds to the final unit which is a research focused unit. The texts and activities provided in Unit 3 provide support for the upcoming culminating task of writing a short story. The Writing Workshop , provides a framework for students to apply the strategies they have learned to an academic writing assignment: a research paper.
After analyzing a student model, students are guided through a step by step process in writing their own research papers. Additional supports are provided in the Resources Manager Topics include;. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 do not meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
There is no design, accountability, nor suggested pacing for these novels. Additionally, there is no information regarding the qualitative or quantitative information around these novels to support teachers in providing guidance for student choice. All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process. Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,word response to the educator report and a 1,word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.
Each report found on EdReports. Working in teams of , reviewers use educator-developed review tools, evidence guides, and key documents to thoroughly examine their sets of materials. After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports. All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.
The EdReports. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators. The ELA review rubrics identify the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubrics support a sequential review process that reflect the importance of alignment to the standards then consider other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.
The ELA Evidence Guides complement the rubrics by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria. Copyright All Rights Reserved. EdReports and associated marks and logos are the trademark property of EdReports.
Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of reports, not derivative works and remixes based on it, and must attribute and link back to EdReports. Series Overview. See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways. Print Email Share. Alignment: Overall Summary.
Alignment Partially Meets Expectations. Gateway 1: Text Quality. Gateway 2: Building Knowledge. Usability Not Rated. Gateway 3: Usability. Criterion 1a - 1f Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading. The topic of nature and wilderness preservation will appeal to interests of some students.