Thursday, May 17, 2007

When I was a kid, at one point I had my mind set that I was going to become a research scientist. I have no idea where I got this idea. All I remember is that I thought it would involve being outdoors a lot, looking at green things. I never understood why no one else was excited about this idea (and it never occured to me that sitting indoors bent over a microscope would have any part in it). I had a lot of fun sitting in the tree in the back yard or crouching by the rocks that divided our land plot from the neighbor's, watching bugs crawl around and digging around in the dirt. Later, my career aspirations transformed into a desire to become a pediatrician, since I knew I loved to be around young kids. I always did well in and enjoyed my science classes in school, I was in the accelerated science track, and I had no problem with dissection, doing most of the work for my squeamish male partner, Schuyler. But at some point I found out from my Dad that my uncle (his twin), a biologist and biology teacher, advocated having students study a live cat and then later dissect it. (He now denies that he ever said this...). I was appalled! I could never do that! And then later I found out that all med school students had to dissect a human cadaver. The gig was up. There ended all desire to become a doctor. I did have a number of episodes later wondering if I should become a vet (or vet tech), because of my love for animals, and my gift for cutting kitty nails and administering kitty meds :-), but I didn't think I could handle the heart break of seeing so many animals who were poorly cared for or having to be involved in putting animals to sleep. I am unusually sensitive when it comes to seeing animals suffer. I really just can't deal with it. Thus, I abandoned that idea. It has taken me a long time to try to understand my uncle's philosophies when it comes to dissection. I long viewed him as a person insensitive to the suffering of animals and since he has lived in Calgary, Canada for most of my life and I could probably count the number of times I've visited with him in my whole life on one hand (or maybe 2), I have never had a chance to really discuss it with him. It occured to me, though, after googling him and reading an article he wrote a few years back about biology education, that his main interest is in having biology education be about experiencing living things and not just reading about them or studying partial organisms. So today I had to order 20 frogs from Carolina labs for the science classes to dissect here at school and it made me think about all this. How imporant is it that kids see what the real inside of a frog looks like? Is my understanding of anatomy any better because of my experience dissecting frogs, etc. in school? One of my favorite parts of teaching voice students is the first lesson, in which I have developed a routine of explaining the general anatomy and physiology of the larynx, vocal fold function, and the basics of breathing to my new students. In my head, I have justified that explaining the mechanics of how things work will help the student to focus their energies in the proper place and not try to make things work in a way that is physiologically impossible (and thus circumvent unnecessary tension). However, not too many of my students have responded well to this. And, the ones who have been interested haven't necessarily been able to put the information to any good use. Oh well... Last summer I got the idea that I might like to get certified to teach science at the junior high or high school level. (Earth Science 7-12 or General Science) I was also thinking a lot about how to learn the names of all the trees and plants and learn every bird call and the behavior patterns of bunnies, chipmunks, and squirrels. That was fun (though I had trouble deciding if my career ideas were at all practical - and in the end abandoned them). It's fun to think about how things work. It's fun to imagine the processes that created the landscapes of our earth, especially in places where the innards of the rocks are exposed and you can see all the layers of earth and how they have shifted through time. I swear, for one lifetime, there is just too much to learn - too much to do. There are just not enough hours in a day, in a week, in a year. It's overwhelming. I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Wow, this post is all over the place...

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