Friday, August 22, 2014

First Day of Biology

I chased killifish today with a woman who once had a career studying them professionally, her husband who teaches math, and their daughter. We had no net, and despite various strategies and plenty of opportunity, we caught none.

This was not an abstract exercise

The reason I wanted to catch one was because I learned today that killifish talk in frequencies that most humans can hear. They will chirp at each other when stranded in tide pools. This is the kind of thing that makes biology more interesting to me than comets. Comets are cool, but killies live in my neighborhood.

Killifish are not abstract.

I teach young adults as well as I can, but much of what I am required to teach (as proscribed by law) is the sentimental nonsense of the abstract. That my lambs can chirp about nucleotides and proteins well enough to pass a state-sanctioned exam does not mean they are any closer to understanding the killifish that swim just a few miles away from our classroom.

Biology is not abstract.

That my students can graduate without grasping that everything that breathes is connected to everything else alive, that food comes from the air, that everything alive will die, means I have wasted their time pretending I teach biology.

Not sure how I can fix this, but I am going to try.
Every child walking into Room B361 in two weeks is getting a seed.

I'll let you know how it goes....

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