Carl Sagan and Progressive Homeschooling

I’m reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan, which, even if you don’t agree with his perspective, gives a whole lot to think about.

And I’m finding a lot of what he says applies to progressive homeschooling and education, even though he’s talking about science and religion. Here are some quotes that I’ve found interesting. Do you see how they can be related to education?

“What is love without understanding? And what greater might do we possess as human beings than our capacity to question and to learn?”

“No single step in the pursuit of enlightenment should ever be considered sacred; only the search is.”

“Superstition is marked not by its pretension to a body of knowledge but by its method of seeking truth. And I would like to suggest that superstition is very simple: It is merely belief without evidence.”

“But I stress that the universe is mainly made of nothing, that something is the exception. Nothing is the rule.”

He quotes Leonardo De Vinci here, “Whoever in discussion adduces authority uses not intellect but rather memory.”

“We don’t have to make judgments now. All we have to do is maintain some tolerance for ambiguity until the data are in…”

He’s talking about religion without concrete evidence in this quote. But, it could easily be true for a lot of the arguments made against public school and anything that is the status quo, “It is very much as if we are seeking a rational justification for something that we otherwise hope will be true.”

And lastly, a beautiful quote, “One of the many reasons that are given for the advantages of military life and other powerfully heirarchical societies is that it’s not required to think for oneself very much. There’s something calming about that.”

I’ve only read a couple things by Carl Sagan before this book. One of my favorite books, Contact, was one of them. But after reading this one, I think I’ll seek out more of his stuff. He speaks to the everyday man – not scientists. I believe, this will be on our children’s reading list when they are teens.


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