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Dumbing down


Recently I received a present from a patient (very thoughtful) of a Newtons Cradle, which is the picture for this blog.

The Newtons cradle was designed by Isaac Newton and it is the physical manifestation of the philosophy of every action has an “equal and opposite reaction” which is fundamental to the understanding of physics.

The sad thing was that the Newton’s cradle came in a box with the words “Balance Balls” labelled on the packaging. That made me a little bit depressed.

If you come across a Newtons cradle with your 11 year old son or your 13 year old daughter, you can show them how it works and explain the principle, and explain who discovered it and explain why it is important.

As a tiny little bit of inspiration in an otherwise dull world and just watch what kids do with it, if they pick up the left hand ball and drop it onto the cradle and watch as the force passes through the balls and the other ball passes out the other side.

It’s a little bit like watching kids in a circular path, as they always then run around in circles.

Amazing to watch.

This sparked a memory of my Galileo thermometer.

The Galileo thermometer was an extraordinary bit of kit, invented by Galileo but these days you see them in shops with the heading “Novelty thermometer” that are sold as last minute Christmas presents and end up and landfill in March.

Explaining the principle of the Galileo thermometer to children (or even adults) is quite wonderful and beautiful in its simplicity, but extraordinary in its ingenuity.

It’s just a symptom of the world we live in. If we continue to dumb down some of the most wonderful things and the most beautiful discoveries, we will become dumb.

We force out the ability to look at things with curiosity and to try to discover where they came from so that we can get more and more things with less and less thinking.

As always with these things, while everybody else dumbs down, the key is to go in the opposite direction and smarten up.

Who is brave enough to take the effort and spend time to instil that in the children?

Colin Campbell
By Colin Campbell
on 10/09/19 18:00
   

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