So this is blogging.
Rather than wait around for fanfare, I suppose I'll begin.
If you read the introductory posts by my professor, you'll see that we are aspiring writers, scientists or both. If I'm not mistaken, you'll also see that we have discussed a few of the issues facing science writing and mass communication in general. Today I'd like to expand on the issue of communicating science as it pertains to teachers. I'm sure a good old research paper summary awaits in the near future if that's more your thing. For now, I'd rather take it easy.
This idea has risen in my mind many times before, but it really surfaced when the venerable Robert Krulwich brought it up in a blog for Radiolab: Every kid loves to learn about how the world works. They're crazy about it. They watch bugs go about their chores, sometimes testing their resolve with inconveniently placed sticks and other obstacles. They muck around in mud and ponds looking for snakes, frogs and who-knows-what that they then wrangle with their bare hands for closer examination. Most of all, kids ask questions – endless series of questions. If you let them go, their minds branch off like links on Wikipedia pages that lead you along from subject to wacky subject until you don’t remember where you started.
At some point, for many people, this fascination is lost. Krulwich believes that point is in 9th grade, when most of us are introduced to certain dragons of rote memorization – take the Krebs cycle:
|Krebs (Citric Acid) cycle: Wikimedia Commons|
I just got chills. This image was introduced to me (in a watered-down form) in middle school. I “learned” it, and promptly forgot it. In AP Biology during my senior year I encountered it again. Same story. Sophomore year of college came around and there it was a third time.
I still don’t know what pyruvate does.
But I’m still standing.
Robert Krulwich’s sentiment, unfairly simplified, is that every kid would be a scientist if only our teachers would inspire them and not scare them away. “Save this ‘Krebs cycle’ stuff for the specialists,” a Krulwich apologist might say.
That would be disastrous, I would reply. Science is hard. Science isn’t always fun. I continue with it because it continues to excite me despite all the chemical names and body parts and processes I’ve learned and forgotten. I’d like to think that if I do become a biologist, I will have earned it. Let us leave science to those who have been through the gauntlet and still have the will to live.