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The Value of Science Fiction in Education

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The Value of Science Fiction in Education was a topic I gave a presentation on recently for SCBWI in Melbourne, Aus. Recently, the world's nicest guy, David McDonald asked me to summarise this topic on his blog:

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/2012/06/wednesday-writers-bren-macdibble/
#1 - June 13, 2012, 03:23 AM

Awesome article. So much I agree with in regards to education, encouraging lateral thinking and overspecialization. In addition, encouraging interest in different math science for kids who like reading but may not like those subjects and conversely, increasing interest in reading for those math and science lovers who may not enjoy fiction. Reluctant readers and reluctant students can be drawn in through high concept ideas. . . the possibilities are endless.
#2 - June 13, 2012, 07:41 AM

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Awesome article! My home was populated with Cold War era SF when I was growing up--such a great thing. :)
#3 - June 13, 2012, 08:05 AM

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Excellent, excellent, excellent article.So glad I had a chance to read it!
#4 - June 13, 2012, 09:59 AM
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The presentation was great too! : )
#5 - June 13, 2012, 03:11 PM
I've Got Eyes! - Amicus Ink

www.juliemurphybooks.com

MacDibble, you rock!

:) eab
#6 - June 13, 2012, 03:35 PM

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The presentation was great too! : )

Ha! Thank you, Julie. Yes, you were there, weren't you? I can't make the next SCBWI meetings at Ballarat and down in Tasmania (bit of a swim) so maybe I'll see you at Christmas?

Did I do good? I HATE public speaking, and I was kind of out on a limb with such an odd subject but the last thing I wanted to do was talk about myself, so I went with a passionate presentation.
#7 - June 14, 2012, 03:27 AM

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Thanks for your feedback, everyone.

Yes, intelligent storytelling, JoJohn, is often where science fiction excels... even tho it is also one of the pulpiest genres often overlooked when people are thinking about quality literature.

Down in Aus a few years ago Blade Runner was the Year 12 book (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) and movie (since Ridley Scott's movie definitely set the bar a little higher for all SF movies to follow and was such a wonderful example of future/tech noir). And it was also a discussion on what it meant to be "human" as PK Dick no doubt intended. Wonderful to see it used in education at such a high level.
#8 - June 14, 2012, 03:37 AM

Wow, a school teaching Philip K Dick is the coolest school ever. EVER!
#9 - June 14, 2012, 05:08 AM

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Not just a school... a whole STATE of schools.   :grin

There are a whole pile of kids in their third year of University or working apprenticeships right now, who know about Turing tests, have thought about future society and what it means to be human, and understand the influence of 40s film noir on modern movies. A whole pile of kids who have prethought through the ethics of artificial intelligence. They're ready for the future.

I don't think we do this enough.

When we were kids we thought about the future in terms of wild Jetsons toys. We were thinking 30-50 years into the future... well now we're there... and we can barely imagine beyond 5 or 10 years into the future. The world is changing so rapidly, our ability to imagine into the future is shrinking. We just don't know what is coming. Look how the mobile phone and other mobile devices have revolutionised our everyday lives in just 20 years... and now... you can text your coffee order directly to a coffee machine. They never did that on the Jetsons.
#10 - June 14, 2012, 07:57 AM

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Your presentation was great, Bren. It was different from most and got us thinking about our writing in different ways.
I agree that we don't think long-term enough these days. Just yesterday the Vic Govt announced 6 (yes, 6) new suburbs to be built on the outskirts of Melbourne. When asked about the demands that would place on infrastructure, the response was along the lines of "oh, that will be worked out in time". But, in my experience, that govt loses office and the next one comes in and blames the previous one without fixing things, and then they lose office and...
Not meaning to get political here (mods, remove if you think my post crosses the line), but what I mean is that people are thinking that five years is a long-term thing. Wildlife conservation, for example (one of my passions) requires thinking way beyond that.
So kids learning and thinking about the distant future is a very good thing!
#11 - June 14, 2012, 03:07 PM
I've Got Eyes! - Amicus Ink

www.juliemurphybooks.com

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Melbourne has a lot of things that need fixing. It needs a light rail from the city to the airport. Train line/tram line extensions to universities a connection between the two partial ring roads. High speed rail connecting all the eastern cities

I live in a high density burb on a train line and every time a warehouse or shop comes down, an apartment building goes up, and that's good because owning a car is entirely optional here, but day and night main roads are clogged by thousands of people heading into the city in cars owned by those who live further out because there are no trains, or there is no parking near their train stop or the trains are too full, I'm on a "sardine" line and often have to let one or two trains go by because they're too full. They need the infrastructure, and the people buying up and selling off the land are only there to make a profit, they can't control the infrastructure.

Also the selling off of the land around the cities pushes the crops needed to feed the city further out... or out of business. Then we're importing food, adding to pollution, losing control of the quality of the food. Our major crisis in the next 40 years will be how to feed the 2 billion more people in the world, and if each city does not become more or less self-sufficient in terms of producing food, then each city is at the mercy of world wide food shortages.

75% by 2050 is how much our food production will have to rise world wide. It's a crisis we're racing towards blindly, investors are pouring money into growing biofuel to power rich people's cars as poor people starve. All the grain crops produced in all the world in one year could not drive the USs cars for one year... so what the hell are the policy makers thinking?
#12 - June 14, 2012, 04:25 PM

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Plus aren't you a bit rain-challenged at the moment, MacDibble? Thanks for the link to the discussion. I rooted around the internet and found I can buy the anthology from Smashwords so I've bookmarked the link for when I have time to set up an account. Well, I have time, but I need to be at my desk so I can write down the user name, password, etc.
#13 - June 15, 2012, 10:00 AM

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The World's Next Door anthology? Yes, it probably is hard to get overseas, and postage prices are horrible out of Australia. It has some lovely stories in it. Not just SF but fantasy and horror too. And you can download lesson plans.

The southern states of Australia do have a lot of problem with drought. We've just come out of a 9 year one and are in for a few kind years in terms of rainfall before we head back into drought, that's the cycle of Australia. The weather here is prone to extremes, and that makes it hard to support plants and people. The infrastructure needed to support a desalination plant with its high energy needs is just so much, it gets put off and put off.
#14 - June 15, 2012, 07:45 PM

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The Worlds Next Door anthology of SF stories for kids is available as an eBook in most formats, including .mobi for Kindle through Smashwords.com. I think it's around US$10.00.
#15 - June 16, 2012, 06:34 AM

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Thanks for the article. My husband works at NASA and I'm sure that most of the people he works with, the ones who are designing the rocket ships of the future, use the science fiction of their childhood in spirit if not in gritty reality.
#16 - June 16, 2012, 08:14 AM
How Things Work (Publications International, 2006)
Bugs & Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter (Boyds Mill Press, 2010)
Touch the Earth (NASA, 2009)

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Their imagination muscles were exercised by sf?

Before we can create something, we have to be able to imagine it.
#17 - June 16, 2012, 08:44 AM

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