I know very little of astrophysics. Therefore, I will not speak on the subject at all. I understand my thoughts would largely come from a place of extreme ignorance. So I will be silent on the subject. That is what someone should do when they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Sometimes knowing what you don’t know is just as important as knowing what you do know.
I suggest astrophysicists who know little of teaching remain silent on the subject…no matter how many followers you may have. Know what you don’t know.
But please allow me to turn this into a teachable moment for you, the reader…because that’s what teachers do.
What Dr. Tyson has unknowingly demonstrated is a wonderful example of how knowledge is domain specific. Just because you may know something about one area (or domain) of information does not mean you know anything about another area. Dr. Tyson eloquently illustrates this with his above tweet. There is no doubt he is knowledgeable in many domains…but one of these isn’t teaching…obviously.
Many people, whether they be astrophysicists or politicians, seem to forget their knowledge is domain specific. This often results in ridiculously ignorant tweets or ignorant legislation of what and/or how teachers should teach. And as many educators know, ignorance is bliss.
But, I am not writing this for Dr. Tyson (or politicians). He doesn’t care what I have to say and there is about a 0% chance he reads this, owns up to his ignorance, and admits that maybe classroom teachers know more about teaching than someone who is not a classroom teacher.
I’m writing this for teachers.
As much as possible, ignore the ignorance. Here’s my litmus test for whether I should care what someone on twitter or at central office or in the state legislature says about my profession:
Does it impact my instruction? Does it negatively change what I do?
If it doesn’t impact my classroom, I ignore. There will always be another ‘expert’ on education (like Dr. Tyson) spewing ridiculous comments and ideas. There’s no way to defend the profession at every turn. So, to preserve my sanity, I’ve chosen to just laugh off the nonsense, keep my head down, and continue to educate my students. It took me a while to get to this point and I once took everything very personally…but it was a waste of emotion. Nothing ever came of it. It didn’t impact my teaching. Oh well.
If you ever find me on twitter discussing the big bang theory or dark matter or black holes, please know that someone has stolen my account. I would never do that. Knowledge is domain specific. Astrophysics isn’t my domain. Know what you know…but maybe more importantly, know what you don’t know…or enjoy your blissful ignorance.