Nautilus

The Case for More Science and Philosophy Books for Children

If we, as a society, were serious about our children, then children’s education—especially for those beginning “the age of reason”—would be our highest priority.Photograph by Sharon Mollerus / Flickr

During my career as a scientist and a philosopher I have written and edited, thus far, 14 books. Of these, seven are for the general public. Of those, only one (my very first one, as it turns out) was for children. The same picture emerges if one looks at the lifetime production of major science (and philosophy) popularizers, from Richard Dawkins to Stephen Jay Gould in biology, Brian Greene to Janna Levin in physics, Nigel Warburton to Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in philosophy.

You might think aiming at a youthful demographic would be more appealing. Those early years, when curiosity runs high, are intellectually formative—it’s when we, my fellow educators, can hook young minds onto what philosophers call the of the world. Voltaire mischievously attributed to the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola, the saying, “Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man.” Voltaire was probably worried about the Church brainwashing the next generation (“Écrasez l’Infâme!”—“crush the infamous”—as he used to sign his letters). But Loyola had a point, if he ever uttered those words. The ancient Greco-Romans talked about “the age of reason,” the period around the age of seven when children begin to use their rational faculties, which they saw as crucial to the moral formation of an individual, an idea that modern developmental psychology .

Sie lesen eine Vorschau. Registrieren Sie sich, um mehr zu lesen.

Mehr von Nautilus

Nautilus6 min gelesen
The Mystery of the Dark Asteroid That Scorched Russia: A new theory emerges to explain the enigmatic Tunguska Event.
On a June morning in 1908, above a sleepy forest in the Siberian Taiga plush with larches, spruces, and black bears, something flashed so bright and hot in the sky that a hunter 10 miles away, near the Middle Tunguska River, tore his shirt off thinki
Nautilus6 min gelesenPsychology
How the Pandemic Has Tested Behavioral Science
In March the United Kingdom curiously declined to impose significant social distancing measures in response to the global pandemic. The government was taking advice from the so-called “Nudge Unit,” a private company called Behavioral Insights Team, w
Nautilus9 min gelesenSociety
The Contagion Detective: Adam Kucharski explains how diseases like COVID-19 and misinformation spread.
The COVID-19 pandemic was some epidemiologist’s nightmare when Adam Kucharski was writing Rules of Contagion. Released this week, the book, which includes brief mentions of the encroaching COVID-19 storm, draws on ideas from “outbreak science” to ill