Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hubris and a biology classroom

We have lots of stuff going on in class.

We have a few carrots ready for eating, a bunch of fish fry less than two weeks old, a menagerie of sow bugs, slugs, and a centipede or two, planaria, daphnia, wheat berries, a few tomato plants, a healthy Brussels sprouts seedling, several tanks of pond water (two of which have hatching mosquitoes), goldfish, elodea (and a few other aquatic plants I have yet to identify).

We got dead stuff, too--horseshoe crab molts, a possum skull, a large femur that looks suspiciously human, a slice of human brain, skeletons of various small mammals and at least one huge bull frog, and all kinds of shells.

We got gazillions of microscopic critters, some the classic obvious ones, and a few that would challenge Dr. Seuss. We got pieces of trees and owl vomit and fetal pigs in various stages of undress.

We got old-school whiteboards and a fancy interactive electronic one; a class set of netbooks and a functioning typewriter; paper and pencils and compasses and microtomes and pipettes and all kinds of glassware.

I like walking into our classroom, and I think the kids do, too. And yep, we got a state biology exam to prep for, and we will, but despite that distraction, the kids leave here knowing a little more about life and uncertainty than they did when they walked in here September.

The state is still trying to figure out what matters, the President and his puppet flash the word STEM like a talisman, but meanwhile my students, all of them still relatively recent arrivals here on Earth, peek and stare and snoop and lift up rocks and pat down seeds and go about the business of the curious mammals that they are.

Public education works for those who work at it. Many folks in Bloomfield have worked hard to make our schools what they are, and I am proud to be a part of it. We'll continue to teach biology, to expose the our lambs to the world that lies outside of words and politics.

Our school motto is "Learn to live." Not "learn to make money" or "learn to pass tests produced by for-profit companies" or even "learn in order to get into college."

I have thousands of critters that are living in our classroom, each one with a story to tell, stories far more interesting than those told by Duncan or Christie or Cerf, each bellowing like a Musician of Bremen.

All pictures from our classroom, taken today as the sun set.

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