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I've recently been digging into the writings of George Mobus on the subject of "Sapience." Mobus begins by asking himself and his readers "If we are such a clever species, why is the world the way it is, and heading in such a bad direction?"
His answer is that most humans, even very intelligent and clever ones, have too little "sapience."
"Sapience" is Mobus' term for a human attribute that is a combination of judgement (based on life experiences), moral sense (primarily altruism, thinking about the welfare of the group as well as of yourself), taking a long view of the future (strategic perspective), and systems perspective. He thinks that sapience is present in all humans, but very unevenly distributed with a few people having a lot and most people having little. More
It turns out that many Earth processes of global significance, in both solid and fluid earth, have this same effect of redistributing energy away from localities of high energy concentration towards localities of lower energy concentration. The net effect is a more dispersed spatial distribution of energy. More
(adapted from essay and talk prepared for the Cutting Edge Workshop on "Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences," Carleton College, April 18-20, 2010.)
Several inherent attributes of ocean, atmosphere and solid earth sciences contribute to making these disciplines challenging to teach and learn at the K-14 level. These include the large spatial scale of important processes, the consequent reliance on models and representations rather than actual target phenomena in hands-on activities, the centrality of systems thinking and emergent phenomena, and the importance of non-experimental modes of inquiry. None of these difficulties is unique to geosciences, and none is insurmountable, but they do require purposeful attention from educators, curriculum and program designers, and evaluators. More
In the first paper coming out from the Synthesis of Research on Thinking & Learning in the Geosciences, we made the bold assertion that:
Even in the absence of new research on this topic, I am ready to stake my reputation on a simple intervention that I am convinced can greatly improve students' and the public's understanding of the concept of feedback loops. More