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Friday, October 9, 2020

Current Events: the Nobel Prize (CRISPR) and the Supreme Court

On Fridays, we consider the events of consequence that have transpired during the course of the current week or two. My kids typically enjoy this activity because we often start off with a video news report by CNN10 (which is always a highlight - we don't rely upon a TON of technology, because... data limits :S). Though frequently the bias is obvious, we do enjoy gaining perspective into how many people are thinking about the hot topics of the day. Listening to opposing positions on the issues can make for interesting and lively discussion. In another place, I explain more of what Current Events looks like + What we do. 

Here are the basics:

  1. A news source or two + 
  2. This Week in History notebook entry +
  3. Thoughtful discussion.

Here are a couple of the topics we addressed around the dinner table tonight:

The Nobel Prize (CRISPR) : October 2020

"Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer A. Doudna of the United States won the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for inventing CRISPR-Cas9." From Creators of gene-editing tool win Nobel Prize.

SUMMARY: Creators of gene-editing tool win Nobel Prize (a one minute read)

Sophia Lee’s interview with bioethicist William Hurlbut about unethical uses of CRISPR: A Question of Ethics - (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED read for high school students)

CONS. "One study, published in Nature Methods; but later retracted, showed that CRISPR can cause hundreds of unintended mutations in genes other than the targeted one." An article published by World Magazine, CRISPR Danger.

PROS. "This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true," the Nobel Committee said in announcing the prize. (Quote from 2020 Nobel Prize In Chemistry: 2 Scientists Win For Genome Editing Research, NPR)

POINTS OF INTEREST. "This is the first science Nobel to be awarded to an all-female team, according to Science Magazine. The development of CRISPR-Cas9 began serendipitously when Charpentier was studying the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, which causes a range of diseases from tonsillitis to sepsis, according to a statement from the Nobel Committee." (For more, read the full article: 2 women earn Chemistry Nobel Prize for gene-editing tool CRISPR | Live Science)

A look at the United States Supreme Court

"No matter what you believe of her jurisprudence, Justice Ginsburg was a historic figure who followed her worldview relentlessly, " says John Stonestreet in his 60 second piece for the Colson Center. For a quick lead-in to the topic, read or listen to: The Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—and the Implications, and listen to the longer BreakPoint podcast linked below, in which "Kim Colby, Director of the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom, joins John Stonestreet to discuss the legacy of a truly historic figure, Ruth Bader Ginsburg," in The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Roe v. Wade, and the Future of the Court (a 30min podcast). (Recommended for high school students)

When working with younger students, it may be helpful to introduce the topic by first clicking over to Student News Daily's article: U.S. Supreme Court kicks off new term. (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for younger students!) The page includes an informative history of the U.S. Supreme Court as well as helpful discussion questions and other resources.

You may also be interested in listening to the following relevant radio segment on the Supreme Court and some of the upcoming cases by World Magazine's The World and Everything in It

For further study.

It's important to teach our students how to evaluate and form an opinion on current events. In the following editorial articles you can read several opinions on a complex national and international controversy spanning the entire last year. See the section following the first linked article with questions for thought and discussion after following the article on current NBA Ratings posted this week on Student News Daily.

Start HERE (questions are at the bottom of the page). 

Then read the following editorials from October of last year:

How the NBA censored me on American soil (posted 10/2019)

China bans Houston Rockets following GM tweet

Editorial cartoon: LeBron

Notes on bias and opinion: 

Everyone has a bias. To have a bias is part of being a reasoning being. It is healthy to recognize we have all have them. I find this topic SUPER interesting. I hope to think and write more about bias and opinion in another post. 

All of that said, the selection of current event articles shared on this blog, may or may not be overtly reflective of our family or my personal or political stance on any particular issue. I try to remind myself often to keep an open mind when it comes to opinions, both mine and others'. I do believe there is an absolute standard of Truth, while recognizing the room for discussion on interpretation and application of matters not explicitly defined or outlined in the Word of God. 

Keeping this in mind, it is generally a good idea, at least in some degree and perhaps over time, to hear and/or present several sides of an issue. This is to assist our students in developing discernment and analytical thought for the formation of their own personal opinions. 

We value the exchange of ideas, so please feel free to link to quotes and/or articles that provide insight for thoughtful conversation. Our lives are all busy, and though we don't generally have time for engaging in discussion outside our immediate circle, it is always our express purpose to listen patiently before speaking, to acknowledge others' opinion and when we do voice our own thoughts, to carefully avoid coming across unloving, haughty or impervious. Sometimes we succeed. :) If you find the viewpoints you read here overtly divergent from your own, please feel free to do the research and present material to your students that is more in line with the opinions and beliefs you feel comfortable with. I am open to private discussion if there is a matter of concern that you think should be addressed.

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