Skeptic Dictionary for Kids

Late in July of 2011, Robert Carroll published Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids, a complement to his long-standing Skeptic’s Dictionary. He reported that he created it after a twelve-year old told him she found the entries in the original “hard” and “too long” and a ten-year old wanted more pictures.

Like The Skeptic’s Dictionary, the SD for Kids defines words and tells the reader what scientists and skeptics think about whatever is being defined. The first version has 45 entries from abracadabra to zombies written for kids 9 and up. I recommend that kids first read the page About the SD for Kids and then read the entry on scientific skepticism.

I recognize that it’s a little off point to note the publication of Mr. Carroll’s site here on Teach Effectively, but I hope most readers harbor enough skepticism to recognize the potential utility of helping students develop a healthy sense of scientific literacy of their own. I’ll put it in the category of “content learning.”

I regret that Mr. Carroll used the “hard” and “more pictures” rationale for writing the for-kids version of his work. I’m glad that he’s introducing kids to thinking hard, though. That’s important. There are too many kids growing up with the mushy reasoning of advertising and the dodgy logic we see regularly in—sigh—education. A little scaffolding is O.K.

Summer’s coming to an end. Lots of folks are back into the school year! I hope anyone who hasn’t previously done so will resolve to employ effective teaching procedures rather than those that just look good or sound nifty.

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