Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Richard Dawkins and Fairy Tales

I've been meaning to write about this one for some time now. The media's been shrieking about Richard Dawkins' supposed vendetta against fairy tales, but after watching this interview, I think that the media's doing what it always does and picking the juiciest headline out of context.

To my own surprise, I'm behind the idea of the children's book he intends to write, although I know it's going to be seen as promoting atheism. (And to be honest, the whole "Judeo-Christian mythology" didn't exactly rub me the right way.) We do need to start teaching 'em critical thinking, instead of answers to the test.

But I wonder if Dawkins fully appreciates the role that fiction plays in teaching critical thinking. Every time a child opens a book, they must answer within themselves some fairly fundamental questions. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who do I support and why? What do their choices mean to me? What would I do in that situation?

Granted, he's really behind scientific critical thinking, but I think literary critical thinking and scientific bleed into each other in a way that he may be too quick to dismiss.

What do you guys think?

1 comment:

Hugh said...

Thanks for your post, I found it while researching RD's new book. Whilst there's a lot to be said for teaching them how to think, I think RD is completely missing the point of reading fiction such as Harry Potter (which he admits to never having read) and Fairy Tales.

Not everything is science, so there's no need to treat it like it is.