Monday, November 17, 2008

TEACHING IS SCIENCE FICTION

A few weeks ago, Neil Gaiman posted the following on his blog:

I saw a bumper sticker I approved of yesterday in an airport parking lot, although possibly not for the reasons the people who put it on their car intended. It said,

EVOLUTION IS SCIENCE FICTION

and I thought, of course it is. Science fiction isn't just monsters and space rockets. It's where I learned about Evolution, for a start. I thought, there should be a whole line of those, saying things like,

LINGUISTICS IS SCIENCE FICTION

ECONOMICS IS SCIENCE FICTION

and even, for the Zelazny fans,

THEOLOGY IS SCIENCE FICTION.

Probably people would assume that means they aren't true, though, rather than that the definition of science fiction is a very broad one...
While I'm ignoring the nod to the culture wars here (which are beyond the scope of this blog, I'm afraid, although I do find interesting the presumably unintentional use of capital-"E" evolution), I will wager that Gaiman is on to something. As a child, I whiled away the boring bits of elementary school with Laura Ingalls Wilder and James and Deborah Howe and, a little later, John Christopher. In addition to picking up reading, writing and arithmetic during those years, I learned about pioneers, mythology and European geography. Also, discovery and wonder and -- above all -- delight. Yes, teaching truly is science fiction and all the other genres, too. They instruct even now by bringing us joy, that best of tutors.

(Picture: CC 2006 by
dhammza)

2 comments:

Nymeth said...

I really enjoyed that post of his. Science fiction has a much broader scope that people tend to assume it does.

Loren Eaton said...

Genre fiction as a whole, too, I think. Many of my friends assume that any material that isn't explicitly didactic is worthless. One of them once said, "I just can't bring myself to read fiction anymore. It's such a waste of time." That comment frustrated me to no end.