Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"No ideas but in things"

"No ideas but in things."
--William Carlos Williams

Stuff comes from stuff.
That's a big deal. 

Everything you touch came from something else. If we ever truly taught science as knowledge, instead of as a means to magical goals, we'd get this.

If we ever taught science as knowledge, we would not need STEM initiatives.We'd need more science classrooms.

Somehow biology has become this brainy, biochemical abstract broth disconnected from the muck and the mud that have always fascinated children.

If a child knows more about his DNA that his poop, he don't know shit.

We really need to go back to what we know we know....


Scott said...

Scat lab coming up in about 2 weeks for my 7th graders. They will know their scat!

Malcolm said...

i love talking about poop in class. I title the discussions: "it is in you to poo".

I love the fact that almost 1/3 of its mass is bacteria. That is a lot of bacteria...

John T. Spencer said...

I know it's not exactly poop, but . . .

I still think gardening is one of the best intersections between art and science. I want to see more gardens. Real gardens. Gardens that include some food. Maybe a salsa garden or two. I want students to see compost happening. I want them to watch the growth. I want them to be blown away by what happens.

I worked with a group of fifth graders yesterday who had learned about the life cycle through a circular diagram.

As the teacher reviewed the concepts yet again, he drew his own snarky diagram: a kid, angry parents who avoid the kid, a lonely kid, a stoner in high school, the same stoner getting intervention by a teacher, former stoner in college, starting a new family, getting divorced, etc. until he is sitting in a nursing hom by himself. The diagram ended up being more of a web of sorts, but it was somehow still so cyclical and so true and so sad.

It was like reading an Updike short story and I have a hunch he was learning more in the process of drawing this diagram than he was in reviewing the teacher's diagram.

I kept thinking, in the process, "Man, this kid needs a garden."

Aron said...

So right, I've wondered why suddenly all of our standards are basically biochemistry standards and not things they can touch and see.

Jenny said...

John, I am a terrible gardener. In spite of that fact I have taken over a bit of space at my school and started a garden with my first graders. Just having them (mostly apartment dwellers) digging in dirt makes me happy. I do also love seeing them be responsible for our little plot. In some of my favorite time all year.

doyle said...

Dear Scott,

I'm intrigued--what's your source?

Dear Malcolm,

I talk of whole worlds of E. coli swirling down the bowl. That is indeed a of of bacteria.

(I talk about Humulin a lot!)

Dear John and Jenny,

I believe gardening should be at the heart of elementary school--it requires a little, gives back a lot, and it is about as human an endeavor as we know.

Dear Aron,

Makes little sense, but I guess if you believe in magical thinking, you think that biochemistry can be infused into yewts to prep them for the global economic warfare that benefits the few.

Thanks, all--good poop!

Scott said...

Doyle, we study mostly mammal scat, with the big look on the difference between carnivore and herbivore scat based on shape and contents as well as the investigations that are possible using scat.

doyle said...

Dear Scott,

Do you collect it yourself? I want to do this lab!

Scott said...


I actually "inherited" a whole bunch of scat from a former science teacher when he retired. Since then, I have added to the collection. If I find a good specimen, I just place it into a Riker mount (

I also tried some of the plastic replica scat from Acorn Naturalists. Some of it is usable, but it isn't as "actual size" as they lead on it to be. I like to have it as an option for students who are overly grossed out by the real thing.

Here is a link to the activity I do:


lucychili said...

doyle said...

Dear Scott,

Thanks! Poop is something my sophomores can, um, grasp.

Dear lucychili,

Great article--I worry a lot, then I walk on my mudflats and realize how small we are in this whole thing. And that is a very, very good thing.