Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Further Clarification

Since I probably offended my academic readers with last night's vent, I figure I might as well go one step further and take aim at the scientists who read my blog.

Part of my problem with the teacher-prep program I'm in is that it's goal is to produce high school teachers that will be creating new scientists. This is simply not a goal I share or support. I do not like science, that is science in the way they mean. I do not like lab science or experimental science. Nor do I think that should be the goal of high school science education. I think it's much more important to produce high school graduates that are environmentally literate and have a good sense for natural history, especially with their local communities in mind. They can learn how to be lab rats in college.

I want to be teaching about trees and glacial lakes and global warming. I want to be talking about Aldo Leopold and John Muir. I want to be outside, hiking through the woods, pointing out shelf fungus and woodpecker holes.

But since we can't always get what we want, I guess I'll try to suck it up. I'll teach about the cell and chemistry and do boring cookbook labs. But at least I'll have summers off, right?


coffeypot said...

Okay, so you have offended the academics and the scientist. So what do you have to say to us dirty old perverts? Come on, Missy. I can take it.

Nicole said...

As a self-loathing scientist and academic, this is really nice to read. I hear your point and your frustrations, but still believe that the lab and science experiment stuff is necessary. I am not sure how to explain why in this tiny blurb of a comment, so I won't bother. I will say this. When I started taking plant biology classes, plants took on a whole new persona. I took a second look at plants and the whole plant became a whole new interest just because I would spend so many hours looking at them through a microscope. It still happens today. I see an enormous redwood, and in my mind's eye I also see the tiny cells that make it so big and strong, and I know why.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I 100% agree with you on the necessity to teach love of nature and appreciation of the environment and i personally think this is the most fun too. I spent most of my life as a frustrated wannabe naturalist EXCEPT when I was a naturalist.

That being said, science is important too. Maybe there is a way to do both or move subtly toward the environment and being a naturalist somehow. And I also have to say that I learned to enjoy some aspects of science--some more than others.

I wish You could find soemthing that you LOVED!

Jenny F. Scientist said...

Actually I always found education classes boring and/or useless, so I'm not offended at all.

And, to be brutally honest, the US doesn't need more kids encouraged to be scientists. What it needs is a generation who understands basic facts about how the world works. If they can also reason their ways through problems, that's icing on the cake.

I think the set curricula- including cookbook labs- are in fact the very BEST way to ensure that highschoolers will never like science. Poking fungus is far more engaging- technical competence, as you say, can be learned at any stage. I understand the time limitations that lead teachers and/or administrators to use the cookbook labs, but I really believe it's a waste of time, and kids could be learning something AND gaining lab skills.

I hope you can ignore these idiots running your teacher prep program and become That Cool Science Teacher. Mine was a chemist- tie-dye lab, making ice cream with various salts, etc. Because science is about more than titration. Or organelles.

Electronic Goose said...

Don't suck it up. Push forward with your own ideas and just throw the lab-oriented stuff in when you have to. Or combine them the best way you can dream up. The teachers I have learned the most from have always been the ones who didn't suck it up and fall in line: it's the teachers who invite you to explore and wonder, who make you want to learn more, that matter. My "Cool Science Teacher" didn't follow a set curriculum except for book readings.