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May 03, 2014

Comments

Ummm.

What is the definition of indoctrination?

Most enlightening is that Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues would, to begin with, seek to talk children out of their intuitive response. Among ID researchers, the approach would be to test that intuition, objectively weighing the empirical evidence without preconceptions.
Dr. Kelemen is a child psychologist. They don't (professionally) weigh the evidence for evolution; they study kids. For the purposes of this work, she is 100% justified in assuming evolution is true. Is she supposed to relive the entire history of science prior to doing every experiment?

Think of how you would explain sunrises and sunsets to a child who thinks the sun goes around the Earth.

RonH, you're so thoroughly indoctrinated yourself that you can't even see the problem with her methodology. It's a scary place to be when you cannot even see the problem with her approach.

Cory,

You say I'm indoctrinated and that's why I can't see the problem.

But you need to show that I'm wrong before talking about why I'm wrong. (Where have I heard that before?)

In your own words then, what is the problem with her methodology?

I look forward to your answer.

RonH


She has a worldview.

She sees that children intuitively don't share it.

She decides to take clinical action to modify their thoughts before their cognitive faculties can fully analyze her view.

If it were something else, say she saw that children were intuitively libertarians, and she used corrective measures to try to mold them into Republicans, it would be uncontested that it was immoral indoctrination and there would be a call for delicensing.

I just noticed another problem with Klinghoffer’s post.

The word 'intervention' in this context means that investigators did something other than collect data and analyze it.

For example, if you are testing a drug you might 'intervene' by giving the drug.

Had the investigators only observed, this would have been - you guessed it - an 'observational' study.

For example, if you check the census data for a correlation between income and education, that's an observational study.


ArthurK,

How much of the paper did you read?

Who gave consent for the children to be part of an experiment, and were they told the goal?

Did this pass by some ethical review panel?

Why exactly is it wrong for schools to indoctrinate children according to the school curriculum? Don't we want to teach them about science? And, if that science seems counter-intuitive, don't we want to bend their intuition accordingly? (I don't know about grade school, but at least in college, I routinely have to work to bend the intuition of my students to see difficult math concepts. Why shouldn't we do the same for biology?)

It has been observed that we deem it inappropriate for a school to indoctrinate children towards certain political views, with libertarianism as the given example. That is true enough, because we have a certain role in mind for schools, and indoctrinating children to embrace libertarianism we see as violating that role. But, how does indoctrinating children in science violate the role of a school?

It seems to me that the problem is just that you guys don't agree with the science in this case, and so you don't want your kids being indoctrinated in it. That's sad, but whatever, you can keep your kids home from school that day if you prefer. Last I checked, parents even have the power to keep their kids from seeing a doctor, if it goes against their religious views. But, you should probably remember that the rest of the world is going to rumble along just fine while you hide your children from it.


Yes. All children should be pulled out of family units and raised by the state so no non-progessive ideas ever get thought.


This is not science. This is about determining whether if the state gets involved early enough, any natural intuitions that may not be currently fashionable can get weeded out before there is a chance to critically examine. This is an experiment, on children, on whether atheism can be socially conditioned and the lefts belief that means that they would scream bloody murder if anyone else used is perfectly acceptable as long as it is their ends being met.

It is the same mentality where book stores put The God Delusion in the hard science section and Darwin's Doubt in the religion section.

"you don't want your kids being indoctrinated in it."

So you agree that it is indoctrination.

"Why exactly is it wrong for schools to indoctrinate children according to the school curriculum?"

Do you have kids? Do you want your views to be subservient to a bunch of civil servants who got one of the easiest degrees that they could find and can't get fired no matter how incompetent that they are?

How about, if you are fine with this, you subject yourself to a psychologist who specialized in psychological modification to experiment on you? If you are fine with experimenting on those who cannot give consent, you should be fine with exposing yourself.

How about experimenting on kids to see if sexual orientation is truly innate? After all there is no issue with any orientation, and if some that may have originally been hetero end up not practicing it, it isn't like there is anything wrong with it. If it is innate, nothing will change.

If you doubt Darwinsm (by which I mean that the current model may not be completely correct, not Young Earth Creationist. You can have doubts without being YEC), then this is good news.

It means that there is an admission that convincing adults, or even high school students, is not working. People are asking questions, so you have to go earlier before they know enough to ask good questions and socially engineer a non-doubting Darwinist. In that view, it is admitting ( to a certain extent) defeat when dealing with the "facts" with educated adults.

"It is the same mentality where book stores put The God Delusion in the hard science section and Darwin's Doubt in the religion section." I saw that today, and place the Darwin's Doubt copy between Darwin and Dawkins in the science section.

Jim,

Why would you send your kids to school if you don't want them to be taught? Do you just think schools are a bad idea, period? Or do you perhaps think PUBLIC schools are a bad idea? That seems like a totally different conversation though.

To the extent that we are going to have schools at all, what is their purpose if not to teach? And if that teaching requires a bending of intuition, what then?

Again, it seems like you just don't like the curriculum. You think common descent is wrong---maybe even that it is akin to atheism---and so you don't want kids being taught to understand and accept it. That's your right as a parent, I suppose. But, again, the rest of the world doesn't share your religious hangups about it. Most of us, I should think, want our kids to understand and accept basic science.

In answer to your question, yes, I am fine sending my kids to public school, unless it is really REALLY bad. Obviously, it's better to send kids to private school, but if I couldn't afford it then I would make do with public. And, I would be fine having psychologists experiment to find the best way to teach my kids. However, I would of course NOT allow a psychologist to experiment in potentially harmful ways such as pushing them to become homosexual. That is absurd, as I am sure you are aware.

Very Ameri-centric. Was there not recently an extradition case involving a European family being deemed criminals for wishing to home school?

I don't think the issue here is "best way to teach" but changing basic thought patterns to conform to a ideology rather than simply letting the children develop normally and present them with whatever the current theory is at the time, because you are finding that the natural tendency of humans is not to think the way you want them to.

The point in question is not whether you would be fine with people experimenting on your kids, but the fact that they might not care if you are fine with it. You have already argued that there is no problem with "indoctrination" as that is what the schools are supposed to do.

Society changes. Swings back and forth like a pendulum. You may not have an issue with this subject, but is lessens the impact of your objections if at some point the powers that be decide to "indocrinate" something you do not want, as you have already argued that it is the schools right and if you don't like it, it is up to you to pay extra to put them in private school.

"However, I would of course NOT allow a psychologist to experiment in potentially harmful ways such as pushing them to become homosexual. That is absurd, as I am sure you are aware."

Actually, it is not absurd. It is not out of the question for a psychologist to wish to see if allowing young children to express themselves (non-coitally) in a variety of ways to see if early undifferentiation of sexual roles makes a change in adult sexual preferences. If this is seen as possibly teaching increased orientation tolerance, you've already agreed that it this is what the schools are there for.

What is harmful to a child seems to be quite subjective.

Kevin McDowell and attorney with the Indiana Department of Education was quoted in a CNN interview as saying, "This doesn't pose any danger to the other students, even if they did see it."

http://voices.yahoo.com/sixth-grade-students-sex-class-teacher-240744.html

Trent,

If I agreed with you that common descent was an "ideology," then sure, it would be inappropriate for schools to teach students to accept it. But obviously, I regard common descent as science, not ideology.

Also, maybe you mean something different by "indoctrination" than I do. For instance, do you think it is wrong of me to indoctrinate my students to think a certain way about math? Why or why not? Or how about this: If one of my students disagreed that a particular theorem was true, should I try to get him or her to see it like I do? Or, should I be satisfied that he/she just has a different opinion about it?

Personally, I see it in the context of a psychologist seeing that young children have a tendency to see teleology and deciding to see if she can use clinical techniques to rid them of this.

Seems that a natural tendency is being classified as a pathology.

Teaching evolution as the currently accepted theory isn't an issue with me.

"If one of my students disagreed that a particular theorem was true, should I try to get him or her to see it like I do? Or, should I be satisfied that he/she just has a different opinion about it?"

Would you you send her to a psychologist to undergo clinical treatment?

Jim,

Who gave consent for the children to be part of an experiment, and were they told the goal?
Did this pass by some ethical review panel?

Seems like you think Kelemen et al. are nasty people.

Google a bit and you'll find that, in general*, if you want to do a biomedical or behavioral study involving human subjects the following are required by federal law...

If you intervene or gather private data you have to go through an IRB (institutional review board) before you start your study.

You have to get informed consent. Parents give consent for minors.

I don't know the law would talk about a 'goal' but informed consent means knowing the risks and benefits.

If you were a parent of one of the subjects in this study, you'd know the goal.

IRB's tend to be local to the institution.

Here is where Kelemen probably had to go.

*One exception I saw mentioned was based on 'minimal risk'. I guess this study might be a candidate for that exception, but I don't know how to find out if it actual got an exception because I don't see a way to look at those records at the BU site. You probably wouldn't like this study getting such an exception since you, it seems, consider the main potential benefit of the intervention to be a risk!

You quoted my question but did not answer it. What do you think? Do you not agree that I should strive to get the student to understand and accept the theorem?

In answer to your own question: No, I would not send the student to a psychologist. But if the problem was serious enough, and if I had the time, I might consult a psychologist to see how I could reach the student to help him/her understand and accept the concepts.

By the way, it might interest you to know that teachers are CONSTANTLY experimenting to find the best way to teach. It's just that their experiments are informal and undocumented. Do you think I have not changed my teaching style, or tried untested teaching methods? You know, they don't train college instructors to teach at all. They just throw us into the fray, and expect us to use common sense and intelligence to teach the kids effectively. So, it is pretty much guaranteed that we will have to experiment with different teaching methods to find something that works well.

College instructor?

Teaching an 8 year old and a 19 year old is a bit different.

I really don't care if they showed them evolution teaching material. I already stated that. It is not the technique, but the purpose the technique is being employed.

It is taking something that appears to be a natural part of human development in a young developing mind, and deciding to treat is as a pathology because they may disagree with you later if you let them develop normally. It is experimenting to see if basic mental development can be molded away from natural patterns to what has been determined to be more socially acceptable.

And you may not have an issue in this case, but your argument is that if the school decides there is something else they would like to use clinical techniques to instill then you have no issue with it, and by not going to a private school you are agreeing to it. So, you are basically allowing the school to try to instill anything they deem proper into poorer students as a captive audience.

RonH points out the consent issue, which is seperate. Your argument is more of they are there to be experimented on, unless you opt out. Sending your kid to a public school apparently IS consent.

If a student doesn't believe Pythagoras's Theorem, you mark her wrong and she either fails the course or she learns to pretend otherwise to pass the course.

By the time you get to college you should be pragmatic enough to differentiate between stuff you agree with and stuff you need to say to pass the test.

Back to my original point...

If you can socially engineer out thought patterns you don't like early, they may be less likely to question you later.

The problem is that at some point the idea that is being socially engineered out, may not be the one you want, and you've already set the precedent that it is the schools that decide what end product they want. (Unless you are a college professor and can afford to opt out)

So, I view this as a bit of a win if they have to get rid of thoughts prior to being able to think critically. Indicates to me, that there are concerns over whether the explanation might be as obvious if presented later.

No offense to Ben, but I got through college and into the workforce despite my college instructors and their experimentation on different teaching methods.

I had a few classes where I could read the text, or listen to the instructor, but if I tried both there were issues. I finally gave up on class and just went to the exam and passed. In engineering you can do that, as long as you show up for labs.

At college age, I had the choice and had to accept a failure if I was wrong. Little kids can't opt out of these experiments.

Oh,the irony.

A purposeless living being on some random planet has a different perception of reality. So what?

The psychologists need to be trained on suppressing the common sense view that the human brain itself has an objective natural purpose - to be properly rational.

You cannot argue that the brain has an objective natural purpose while also arguing the opposite through the vehicle of Darwinian storytelling.

Sounds like non-atheism is a psychological disorder.

There's no reason to think that the "pilosas" are on their way to true speciation, of the kind that evolutionary theory is really challenged to account for, any more than Darwin's finches.
-David Klinghoffer

The paper says repeatedly that its focus is within species adaptation.

The 'storybook intervention' was designed to see if the kids could be taught within species natural selection. If you think natural selection does explain the adaptation of Darwin's finches, then you should be glad that Kelemen has apparently found an improved way of explaining it to kids (even if you are still worried that the method lead to them to disagree with you later).

It is taking something that appears to be a natural part of human development in a young developing mind, and deciding to treat is as a pathology because they may disagree with you later if you let them develop normally
-Trent Collicutt

Do you think that every natural development in a young mind (or anywhere else) is necessarily a good thing?

Here's a natural development in a young mind: Kids tend to think that giraffes evolved longer necks (a within species adaptation) 'because they needed to reach high leaves'.

Here's another: Kids tend to think adaptation happens to an individual.

But the storybook corrects these misconceptions explaining that within-species adaptation involves...

trait variation within a population,

habitat and food-source change [possibly] in response to abrupt climate change,

differential health and survival due to differential food access,

differential reproduction due to differential health,

trait inheritance,

and trait-frequency change over multiple generations

And then God turns them all gay. Or are we not going by the rest of Romans 1?

Seems that a natural tendency is being classified as a pathology.
Sometimes that's what it is - though 'deviation from rationality' might be a better term.

"Do you think that every natural development in a young mind (or anywhere else) is necessarily a good thing?

Here's a natural development in a young mind: Kids tend to think that giraffes evolved longer necks (a within species adaptation) 'because they needed to reach high leaves'.

Here's another: Kids tend to think adaptation happens to an individual."

That is something that gets taught untrue in science class when one studies biology. It is not a fundamental psychological trait that is anthologized and needs to be treated as young as possible as a character flaw.

Many teens and young adults believe non-politically correct speech should be silenced. That is not grounds to use clinical techniques to reengineer their cognitive processes.

pathologized, not anthologized.

"By elementary-school age, children start to invoke an ultimate God-like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them—even children brought up as atheists. Kids aged 6 to 10 have developed their own coherent "folk biological" theories. They explain biological facts in terms of intention and design, such as the idea that giraffes develop long necks because they are trying to reach the high leaves."

I think the issue is "children start to invoke an ultimate God-like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them—even children brought up as atheists."

I think this may be what is being tried to eliminate, not some understanding of evolution in a non-Darwinian fashion.

If this is the goal, then is suggesting that the view is theism is a psychological fault that needs to be engineered out of the psyche during an age when they are unable to defend their views as an adult should be able to. Sort of like a predator going for the weak and ill because it is less effort than a healthy adult.

If this was what was presented, the parents would almost certainly be atheists who want to impress their views on children, as no theistic parent would likely sign their kid up to an experiment to disabuse their children of seeing design in nature.


"It also suggests that we should teach children the theory of natural selection while they are still in kindergarten instead of waiting, as we do now, until they are teenagers."

You need to disabuse them of the concept of design early on. Perhaps by teen age, they ask good questions rather than believe because Teacher says.

ArthurK,

What is 'something that gets taught untrue in science class when one studies biology?'

Also, maybe you mean something different by "indoctrination" than I do. For instance, do you think it is wrong of me to indoctrinate my students to think a certain way about math? Why or why not? Or how about this: If one of my students disagreed that a particular theorem was true, should I try to get him or her to see it like I do? Or, should I be satisfied that he/she just has a different opinion about it?
I think I'd rather that they just have a different opinion about it if the alternative is to 'storytell' so that they come to believe the theorem.

If you aren't rationally convincing someone of a truth, then you are indoctrinating them in a belief. What's more, if your first thought in teaching is to 'intervene' and 'storytell' so that someone comes to agree with you rather than reasoning with them, then it's apparent that you yourself do not know that what you are saying is true.

Now, I can think of lots of ways to convince young students about mathematical truths. Can anyone really say with a straight face that teacher is rationally convincing Johnny that the universe isn't designed, or even the lesser claim that evolution is true?

How is nontheism proven to the point where you would seek psychological assistance if your student doesn't renounce theism?

That seems a bit presumptuous.

I'd say many scientists seem to misunderstand evolution.

Dawkins describes biology as the study of things that appear to be designed. If Richard Dawkins thinks that life appears to be designed ( but he needs to remind himself it is not) I don't see how it appearing that way to a 6 year old as needing a psychologist to intervene.

I think it is to get rid of the idea of design before it takes hold send causes doubt to creep in.

If you can PROVE lack of design, and show that no reasonable person however young can believe it, you may have a point. If, however, you merely hold it to be the more likely clinical intervention is abusive. It is the case where you better be right about there bring no God, as he takes a dim view on this particular thing.

WL,

I explained above that 'intervention' means anything the researcher does other than observe and analyze. ANY teaching that is done as part of a study about teaching is an intervention.

As to the storybook...

We used a picture storybook because the format is child friendly and invites a beneficial joint attentional learning context. Furthermore, the image enriched narrative reduces cognitive load (Mayer & Moreno, 2003) but supports a multifaceted causal explanation (for other narrative-based approaches with related but different goals, see Brown, Kane, & Long, 1989; Browning & Hohenstein, 2013; Legare, Lane, & Evans, 2013). Finally, young children have been found to learn simple biological facts from picture books and to generalize those facts to real animals (Ganea, Ma, & DeLoache, 2011).

Hm. I'd have said:

We used a picture storybook because
1) pictures aid understanding,
2) the story format accommodates complex subjects well,
3) storybooks are proven teaching tools, and
4) kids like storybooks.


What I am seeing is the use of an innocuous method being used to test a minor item in see if they can effect changes due to an identified socially undesirable character flaw.

Namely non-atheism.

Regardless of the benignity of the method being deployed, obviously being a response to atheist's children naturally going through a phase of non-atheism,this is a denial of the intellectual journey their parents took to their lack of faith by using the authority of school teachers to impress a naturalistic cosmogony to a population group that accepts appeal to authority as valid before they reach the age where authority is rejected in favour of personal discovery learning.

This is not surprising.

Evangelical Atheists, in my experience, love the Appeal to Authority. Responses to authority are often dismissed, rather than showing where the responses are provably wrong, but by showing the responder is not a sufficiently recognized authority. ie. Darwin's Doubt is religion because the author is not a biologist (regardless of the content of the book) and The God Delusion is science because the author is a non-practicing zoologist (regardless of the book not being on zoology).

This whole thing boils down to:

We see A.
We don't like A.
We think B will help to eliminate A.
B is something that can be argued is a problem.
C may effect B.
C is something that is hard to argue against.
If questioned A may be left out and we can point to C helping effect B successfully.

This is not new.

A= Some youth more interested in learning skills or play than becoming political/social activism workers/supporters.
B= Teach youth to express themselves of social issues as part of the required curriculum.
C= Introduction of instructions of how to emotionally manipulate people into Grade 1 language curriculum.

The result is a program that, instead of teaching critical thinking and how to recognize rhetorical use of fallacious arguments being used to manipulate them, teaches them that use of language to manipulate is the goal they should be aiming at by personal use of such fallacies.

Have an issue? No problem. We are just teaching them to express their thoughts more impactfully. Who could object to that?


In the long run, this may not be an issue.

If you listen to the stories of many atheists, such as Dawkins or Hitchens, the decision was about age 13 and came from a sudden realization that the teachers telling the religion was true could not defend their view. Dawkins, for example doesn't seem to understand religion past the 13 year old level so the rejection became ingrained to immunize against the idea that the opposing view had any possible merit.

The move to make atheism the official worldview may backfire when youth reach about 13 and realize their teacher is teaching a curriculum that she can't prove but has to rely on the text and "everyone knows". This is unless it is so ingrained that it does not occur to many that there is any other option.

WL,

You wrote: "I think I'd rather that they just have a different opinion about it if the alternative is to 'storytell' so that they come to believe the theorem."

That's quite a bullet to bite. You really don't think I should try to get my students to understand and accept the theorems in the math curriculum, even when they express skepticism at my initial explanation?

You continue: "If you aren't rationally convincing someone of a truth, then you are indoctrinating them in a belief."

Sure, and that's totally fine. At the level I teach, I don't usually need to 'rationally convince' my students that a particular theorem is true. I just need them to accept it, usually on my authority. It would take far too much time to prove every theorem we have to use. There are hundreds of concepts to cover in a given course, and only a certain amount of time in the semester to get it all done.

You continue: "What's more, if your first thought in teaching is to 'intervene' and 'storytell' so that someone comes to agree with you rather than reasoning with them, then it's apparent that you yourself do not know that what you are saying is true.

Why do you think that? Especially when it comes to children, do you really expect to be able to always reason with them to get them to see the truth of a given fact? That seems to me incredibly naive. In practice, we use our authority as adults. And when both teacher and student is an adult, we instead use our authority as experts in the material.

You continue: "Now, I can think of lots of ways to convince young students about mathematical truths."

Again, I'm sorry but this seems very naive. Tell me, how do you teach a first-year calculus student to use the definition of a limit? Unless the student is highly intelligent, you don't. Instead, you try to give examples and get them to be able to intuitively guess limits based on pictures and tables.

Of course, with enough time, it might be possible to convince a skeptical student using purely rational argument. But time is not always available. Sometimes, the best we can do is give special examples to help get a student to think a certain way about it.


(As a bit of an aside, the question over teaching epsilon-delta proofs, which are pretty much required for dealing rigorously with limits, has become something of a minor controversy in the math community. Try reading, for instance, this math.stackexchange discussion on the subject to get a feel for the opposing views.)

Since you teach adults, your experience is not relevant to teaching 6 year olds.

HeadShaker, on the contrary, it shows that the principles used to criticize the OP's example do not hold in general. If you wish to argue that the situation is different for 6-year-olds, that's totally fine. Maybe those principles do hold for young children, even though they don't hold for adults. But then, you will actually need to present your arguments.

The story is about 6 year olds.

It is you, who is using your experience with adults, who need to show that your experience is relevant.

Sounds like a bit of a red herring.

This story does, however, put some question to the claim that atheism is the "default" position, if there needs to be intervention to prevent children from automatically becoming theists.

It sort of sounds like theism is intuitively obvious and needs to be argued against.

RonH,

Do you think that every natural development in a young mind (or anywhere else) is necessarily a good thing?

Your use of the term "good" implies that a natural object (the brain) has a purpose. This is the myth that the psychologist is trying to dispel.

A purposeless natural object like the brain of a child can only be good with respect to purpose - and in this situation the purpose of the brain is one that the psychologist has invented herself.

Under Darwinism the brain is no different than any other natural object, like a tree, so let's look at that.

If a tree naturally develops a shallow root system and grows half as many branches as similar trees, you cannot conclude that this tree is defective and needs correcting - because this implies that the purpose of trees is to grow deep root systems and many branches. But that view is clearly false under Darwinism. So you can only say that the tree is functionally different.

The same is true for the naturally developed brain. All you can say is that the child's brain is functionally different compared to other brains. This situation is neither good nor bad.

ArthurK,

You wrote: "It is you, who is using your experience with adults, who need to show that your experience is relevant."

But I already did! In this discussion, several general principles have been put forward to attack the teaching methods described in the OP. I draw from my own experience to show that these principles do not hold in general. For instance, it was suggested earlier that bending the 'natural intuitions' of students is inappropriate. I gave examples where it's easy to see this is false. It was also suggested that students should not be subjected to experimentation, but I gave examples where this too is false. It was implicated that indoctrination of students is inappropriate, but, again, I gave examples where this is clearly false.

If you don't want to appeal to general principles, then okay, I'll need to change my examples. But so long as the criticisms are based on general principles, and not aimed SPECIFICALLY at young elementary school children, then my examples are indeed relevant as shown above.

You are in a situation where you teach adults who freely choose to take your class, and pay for the privilege of you trying to teach them something, and can freely choose to extricate themselves if they wish.

This is about young children who are being signed up by parents to see if they can avoid the possibility that the children may become non-atheists.

That there is a difference is clear from the fact that it is written "It also suggests that we should teach children the theory of natural selection while they are still in kindergarten instead of waiting, as we do now, until they are teenagers."

This is an indication that the ease of the introduction of the information is easier at kindergarten than as teenagers when "Cuz teacher says" may not be good enough, and presumably as an adult when you come into the situation. This implies that introducing the idea later is not as successful if they are allowed to pass through a phase in life where they consider teleology. If they allow that, they may become *gasp* non-atheists.

You continue: "If you aren't rationally convincing someone of a truth, then you are indoctrinating them in a belief."

Sure, and that's totally fine. At the level I teach, I don't usually need to 'rationally convince' my students that a particular theorem is true. I just need them to accept it, usually on my authority. It would take far too much time to prove every theorem we have to use. There are hundreds of concepts to cover in a given course, and only a certain amount of time in the semester to get it all done.

Then I submit that you are not usually teaching anyone anything.

Teaching is rationally convincing someone that something is true. Not anything else.

If you are 'teaching' kids something that they cannot understand, so you have to just get them to accept without reason some opinion, that's not evidence against the definition of teaching. That's evidence that you are trying to teach students something that they are not ready to be taught.

Again, I'm sorry but this seems very naive. Tell me, how do you teach a first-year calculus student to use the definition of a limit? Unless the student is highly intelligent, you don't. Instead, you try to give examples and get them to be able to intuitively guess limits based on pictures and tables.
Color me naive then. In my first year calculus course, the very first thing we discussed was the definition of a limit with epsilon-delta proofs and everything.

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