Friday, September 24, 2010

Speculative Fiction in the Classroom - new interview with David Ferro

David Ferro is a Professor of Computer Science at Weber State University. Earlier this year, he sat on a panel at BYU's LTUE Education Conference, which specializes in finding ways to bring speculative fiction to the classroom. David has written the introduction to an edited volume entitledCanticle for the Machine:
Interdisciplinary Essays on Science Fiction and Computing. It will be released from from McFarland in 2011. You can learn more about David at his website.

Here is David's interview regarding the importance of speculative fiction in education:

Q: What unique qualities do you feel speculative fiction can bring to the educational
environment?
A: Perspective. Creativity. Empathy.

Q: What can fans of the genre do to promote the use of speculative fiction in the classroom?

A: Use it themselves. Have their children ask for it at school. Cite the connection between science fiction readership and science and technology oriented studies in school.

Q: Any anecdotes you can share that support the use of speculative fiction in the classroom?

A: I had a student from the College of Science in our Social Implications of Computing
Seminar. He didn’t like science fiction. He played sports and kinda looked down on
reading it. We had the class read “A Logic Named Joe”. He took the class with us the
following year and said he had been reading s.f. He said he was “getting in touch with his inner nerd.” This is interesting. It demonstrates how communities of practitioners can have a literary component – in this case science fiction. As a member, you don’t have to read the genre but you may find yourself not sharing fully in the culture. The student was young enough that he had been part of another community – sports guys
for lack of a better term – that, as he relayed it, frowned on that behavior. However, he was heading in the direction of a field that included science fiction. After our class he realized that his social trajectory benefited more from reading the fiction than not. I look forward to exploring this further and have six years of data with college age kids that I hope will benefit the exploration.

Q: Any last comments you’d like to make about the importance of speculative fiction in
education?

A: I’ve recently finished the introduction to an edited volume, Canticle for the Machine: Interdisciplinary Essays on Science Fiction and Computing. It is from McFarland and should be out in 2011. Although the book is concerned with a larger question of how science fiction plays out in technoscientific communities and society at large, the exploration of science fiction in education comes up repeatedly. Through personal reflection, it is basically the catalyst for the discussion and the first paragraph of the book.

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