Mr. N, a warm and engaging teacher in a culturally diverse high school, told the story of a young man in his earth science class, a recent arrival to the United States from war-torn Afghanistan. Although Mr. N. could not quite put his finger on why, this student seemed very different from his other students. One day, Mr. N, examining him closely, confidentially asked his age. After some hesitation, the young man replied that he was 25, but because he appeared much younger, he was able to fake his way through the U.S. high school as a student. “What did you do in Afghani-stan?” Mr. N inquired. The young man answered that he had been a soldier in the Russian-Afghan war. “Did you ever have to kill someone?” He responded that he had aimed his rifle and fired and that Russian soldiers had fallen. “What on earth do you want from me and from this science class?” Mr. N asked. “I
want to learn how to think like an American,” he replied. Mr. N took this to mean that the student saw scientific reasoning as the key to assimilation and success in his new life in the United States.