If Miss Frizzle could do it, why couldn't we? Do we really have to be rational all the time in order to teach rationality?breaking the rules of reality within the realm of a work of fiction and making the protagonists (or the audience if it's a videogame) figure the new rules out for themselves... Actually now that I think of it videogamers are very used to adapting themselves to entirely new sets of physics on a weekly basis... but no-one has ever made them stop and think about it for a while, AFAIK.
I think *Methods of Rationality* does this job pretty well, but it'd be nice if there were more fiction in this style, and not just *fan*fiction at that. Alicorn's *Luminosity* also goes through an itneresting route: it applies rationality to interpersonal relationships, character exploration, group dynamics, and *applied* powers, and a lot of this it does better than *Methods* (which relies quite a lot on archetypes, to the detriment of realism but also for great benefit of glorious awesomeness, and it's kind of a holdover from the source material). But *Luminosity* falls rather short of exploring the deeper theoretical implications of such a world.
Note how *none* of these books are for kids. Child psychology is noticeably different from that of a late teen or an adult. There are some concepts they can't even *grasp*. A series of works that would teach them the key rationalist virtues and some rational ways of looking at their environment and improving their lives would be great. I'm not talking about writing books intended towards geeky kids (awesome though such a thing may be), but about teaching rationality in a way that'd be appealing to *all* kids.
In that sense, *The Magic Bus* taught us a lot about valuing curiosity, not taking the first possible explanation, and generally having fun discovering the laws of reality... in incredibly unrealistic and science-breaking ways (which were dutifully pointed out in a special section after each episode, in which they generally managed to both make us understand that there was more to the stuff we saw than what they showed us, but that sometimes it was okay to take an Artistic License to get the point across... something people like Sheldon Cooper seem chronically unable to grasp, and I'm told there are people who share those opinions in Real Life...). *My Little Pony: Friendship*, on the .other hand, taught a lot on being rational in facing daily troubles, especially regarding friendship... but, well, here again, the situation is rather mutated by the fact that those are ponies living in a pony world with strange pony rules...
This might actually help carry the point across *better*. By making the stories take place in fantastic setting, we avoid the kids superimposing their prejudices, preconceptions and heuristics to the material presented: instead, their minds become more open to new possibilities, and this is a wonderful opening to plant some wonderful Aesops...
... Wait, is this an instance of using the Dark Arts to teach the Art then?
I'm not suggesting we be emotionally or creatively repressed, that has nothing to do with being rational. I just wonder how exactly one can allow themselves artistic license in a way that allows people to have fun learning stuff without having the fun bits detracting from the general message.
Ah, also, here is one example on how to do it wrong, from My Little Pony of all places:
In ''My LittlePony Friendship Is Magic'', research magician Twilight Sparkle disregards repeated observational evidence of Pinkie Pie's "Pinkie Sense" because it's not Sufficiently Analyzed Magic. Then, under the influence of severe repeated head trauma and possible stress-induced brain anyeurism, she concludes that it "just makes sense," and that you just have to choose to believe in things you don't understand. In defense of the show, after the inevitable Internet Backlash, the creator of the show, Lauren Faust, apologized, saying that that wasn't meant to be the moral to take away from the episode.
Admittedly, I've seldom seen a Curiosity Stopper better than an Argumentum Ad Baculum where the proverbial Baculum is weilded by reality itself, but that's not addressed as Twilight's motive to stop worrying and love the Pie.