Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Defense of Sci-Fi + Critical Thinking

A Defense of Sci-Fi + Critical Thinking - PART #1

[Note: I have two of my blogs on Historiography, TV, and Italian History made but as they are taking longer to create than I'd like, here is this instead! I hope these will be fun reads between other blogs here and there ... ]

I grew up on some fashion of science-fiction like many other kids around my age. If we didn’t know what Star Wars was ( even if we disliked it or not ) then we knew it on TV when we saw it. We watched Star Trek, of SeaQuest, or Babylon 5, or Quantum Leap, or countless other shows. Regardless of a persons preference for the genre, it permeated our lives on at least the superficial level. For some of us that level goes far deeper, like it does within myself.

   Sci-Fi does not really need defending at this point in its lifespan. It has grown from the content of weird, pulp-y magazines to the genre behind the top grossing films of all time, many times over. Still, I think there is a disconnect between the styles of science-fiction that I want to discuss over a few of these blogs.

   When we learn here at the University of Texas at Tyler our Professors try and teach everyone to apply what they learn to the world around them. True, not every class will make it to where you can apply Historiography or Literary Analysis to all things … but we can think critically. We can, as people, flex our brain muscles in new and exciting way. That is what a big part of being human is – seeing deeper than the surface, trying to pierce the mundane with our minds to know something.

   In my opinion, Science-Fiction is a medium that applies more abstract ideas in the hopes of providing an easier means of talking about ‘big issues,’ as well as trying to present future possibilities. Talk about how the state of politics is currently and all you can being up is present-day examples … but present a ‘sci-fi novel’ where the political climate is dominated by tyranny, robots, and space-ships? Suddenly you find we are thinking ahead and either saying, “Oh, yea, this and this will = X.” or we are saying, “OH, no, X and Y can’t happen because = Cantaloupes.”  Sci-Fi inadvertently provides some of the best tools for talking and thinking critically, as skill that is important to the college and non-college student.

   When you go to college, apply what you know … and, apply the way you learned things. If you read an article? Look up the author and see what else he has written. Fact-check the sources of the news. Use social-media and ask other peoples opinions. Use your brain and exhaust all resources available to you. I was lucky to have had wonderful teachers here who taught me these skills, however one of them explained that it was something I ( and other geeks who read comics and loved sci-fi content ) already inadvertently knew how to do. I'll explain how next time!

Next Time - Pacific Rim, UTT Asian Studies, and ROBOTS ROBOTS ROBOTS

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