Sunday, September 3, 2017

Parts of the cell

  • Ribosomes are not like factories.
  • The nucleus is not like a brain.
  • Mitochondria are not like power plants.
Using analogies for cell organelles presumes that the students know what how brains or factories or power plants work. Most students do not. Most teachers do not, either.

Building a "cell city" gives the illusion that learning science is happening. It is not.

When a child creates a cell model based on analogies, they learn that compliance (and using lots of pastel colors) gets you ahead in the school game. 

Students believe getting ahead in the school game matters because that gets you a leg up on the job game so you can make more money. They believe that because we tell them that, and at least that's more reasonable than telling a student that the nucleus is like a brain.

I want a child who, if she spills a drop of blood in class, imagines one of her white blood cells sliding through its liquid world, desperately fighting the microbes among the hordes that sit on her desktop.

A child who uses her brain in school is much more difficult to "handle" than the child who slides by on compliance.

Which child do you want in your classroom?


Jenny said...

I've long said I don't really want the 'vanilla ice cream' kids. I'll take them, of course, but those kids who follow all the rules, sit quietly, question nothing...I find them a bit dull. Sweet, but dull. I love the quirky ones. The ones who say things that come out of the blue and make me think. Or make me wonder. Or, sometimes, make me smack my head. But those are the kids I'll remember a decade later.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Ah, agreed, but the real joy for me is helping the compliant kids wake up.

Thanks, as always, for the words.

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