Schools districts around the country this year are scurrying around this year to transition to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). With CCSS there is a great emphasis on reading in the curriculum areas, such as Science and Social Studies, as well as increased literacy in reading non-fictional texts. The reasoning is to make us more Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) competitive in the world educational markets, we as educators need to teach using more STEM-driven materials. Reading more Science books will make you smarter in science, right?
Not according to some of the greatest scientists of our times. According to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, “Science fiction is useful both for stimulating the imagination and for diffusing fear of the future.”
Wait! What? Science Fiction?!?
Studies tend to show that successful scientists are coming from background rich in science fiction literature. It seems there is a connection between learning familiar concepts in literature and being comfortable with science as a subject. Science Fiction seems to stir curiosity which in turn leads to experimentation in scientific fields. (http://nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7s5.htm)
Here’s the real rub and think about this… What are the most popular Young Adult novels to come along since Twilight? Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. For the past few years, these volumes, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, have flown off book shelves during a down turned economy. Students want to read theseScience Fiction books, but what does the CCSS say? “No, read more non-fiction.” Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Curriculum Maps on CommonCore.org. http://commoncore.org/free/. There are not very many English Language Arts units containing Science Fiction.
Want more resources for using SciFi? Try Reading for the Future at http://www.readingforfuture.com/. I love their mission statement! “…to help young people develop a love of reading and intellectual adventure through the vehicle of science fiction, fantasy and other speculative fiction.”
May the Force be with you!