How and Why I Don’ t Know Science

After I heard we had to dissect the body of a cat in tenth grade biology class, I requested to take a replacement course instead. Today many school districts are sensitive to this issue and students can opt out without creating a stir. But back in 1971, school administrators at my Michigan school had never heard of a college-track student requesting to skip the foundation of high school science classes—and all over a dead cat. (How and Why the cat would die wasn’t divulged). Although they were surprised by my request, they allowed me to switch over to a course called Earth Science, but the only connection it had with its name was interminable dullness like dirt.

At fifteen I saw the world through a lens like a microscope and never from the top of a cliff. My father often said, “You can’t see beyond your own nose. It’s the bigger picture that counts.” My father, though, only saw the world as if it were a coloring book—large geometric blanks to be colored in by him, sloppily, with loops passing wildly beyond the black lines.

My view worked well for the science projects I had performed at home for years. When I was nine, my mother had bought me a How and Why book with scientific experiments kids could do at home. I grew mold on potatoes, made a weather station, something different every week.

But Earth Science class turned out to be a playpen for students who would not much longer be called students, kids who had troubles at home and troubles at school. Because I didn’t have the capacity to look at the longer range consequences, I didn’t realize that by not taking biology I’d left science behind. I wasn’t able to study physics or chemistry as all the science classes were lined up like the begetters in the Bible—biology begat chemistry which begat physics.

The SAT didn’t require any scientific knowledge, and somehow, with my intuitive test taking abilities, I managed an eighty-something percentage on the science portion of the ACT. The next year I attended a college chosen for its proximity to my boyfriend and satisfied the lone science requirement by taking a course called “The History of Science,” which taught no science.

Today I don’t know much about science, but my conscience is clear where my four cats are concerned. Too bad I couldn’t have a clear conscience and science both.

Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina [ secret name]

153 Comments

Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Photographs, Writing

153 responses to “How and Why I Don’ t Know Science

  1. That’s awful!!!!!! We had to dissect frogs and that was bad enough, watching them struggle in a jar of formaldehyde. I would have been REALLY upset if we’d had to dissect cats.

    • lucewriter

      Anneli, it seems that lots of schools forced kids to dissect frogs, and we were supposed to do that, as well. Oh no, the frogs were alive?! Horrible.

      • The teacher brought them into the classroom in a clear casserole size dish with a lid. He filled the dish with cotton batten with the frogs still in it and then poured formaldehyde into it. It was awful watching them kick their life out.

        • lucewriter

          Oh my goodness. That is a hideous story. It makes me feel sick. First for the poor frogs. Then for the poor kids as it sounds like child abuse.

        • My school sent them in already killed. That’s the way it should be. The kids shouldn’t have to see them suffer. That’s why so many people are scared of it!

          • Yeah, ours were already long gone when we got our grubby little hands on them as well in high school. I think we had to kill our own in a college class though. I don’t know why, but I think the term was “to pith” the frog. It meant basically jamming a very thin, pointed ice pick type thing into the frog’s brain stem. Considering I didn’t care to handle frogs at all and don’t much care to torture animals for any reason and I’m not a doctor, that whole practice now seems barbaric in hindsight.

          • I remember the day before elementary graduation, we had to dissect frogs…My teacher was not too happy but did it, made us all do it. My partner was so fond of frogs that she started to cry because it was dead, therefore I was forced to dissect and examine every little thing. It ruined graduation considering my teacher ordering a green and in a shape of a frog cake for us. I like Biology, but after that, I stay 100 metres or more away from my primary school

      • That teacher must have been mental — sadistic — a sociopath. I would have never done that in front of my students if I had been the teacher of that class.

        • lucewriter

          I agree with that, Lloyd. You would think that science teachers who are forced to teach this way or who believe in it ought to at least protect the kids as much as possible. It’s not like they need the skill of killing to go out there and live their adult lives.

  2. I love your writing style.. it always pulls me in 🙂 And good for you for sticking up for your beliefs, even during a time it wasn’t common. Just look at that kitty’s face… you know they’re happy you skipped Science 😉

  3. Sherrey Meyer

    I got by in high school biology dissecting a frog, and I thought that was bad. Could never have done that to a cat. It would haunt me every time I look at my precious Magnificat aka Maggie.

  4. Oh man oh man did this post set off the memories.. My older sisters paved the way, so first there were the YEARS of waiting for biology. I feared it like a first pap smear. We (using the term loosely, as my lab partner did all the heavy lifting) did frogs, then graduated to fetal pigs – all this is pretty much all I remember from middle-school, making me think the trauma was not “just part of growing up” but part of post traumatic stress syndrome. My one happy biology memory is the clear pages in the text books, I was interested in the insides of things, I just didn’t have to smell, touch, feel and kill.

    • lucewriter

      Hi Jaye, it’s nice to see you over here (did you know I’m from DWLA?)! I LOVE your comment. You feared it “like a first pap smear.” All that fear and anxiety ahead of time–I so agree! I had forgotten that part of it until you mentioned it. Then once I got in that little closed-in biology room and the teacher started explaining it all, I’m pretty sure I had a panic attack.

  5. Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:
    We are responsible for our own education even at a young age. One wrong or right decision in school may change your life, and this post that I have reblogged from another site is an example.

  6. I’ve never heard of dissecting cats. I dissected a frog, worm and baby pig and surprisingly, the frog was the one I found the least gross. But I kinda wonder where all these dead animals came from, especially th pig….I never thought to ask at the time. Hmmm!? Congrats on being FP! 🙂

    • I think there are probably companies that raise animals for dissecting and sell them to schools but I always thought they were in the formaldehyde when they were shipped out from the company.

      I’ve never heard of cats being used for dissection in a science class. One would think they would stay away from popular pets and stick with frogs and pigs.

      • lucewriter

        Even so, I’m sure I wouldn’t have taken the class. however, and this is a long time ago, I believe the dead cats were supposed to be a sign that our school was superior and could offered something more akin to a college experience. Either that or I my memory is flawed because I was so traumatized by the thought of dissection and what I imagined was possible vivisection.

      • I remember something about formaldehyde being mentioned in bio class, but I don’t remember in what context.. I wasn’t a fan of science class either… But yeah I’m surprised about the cats….I hope they don’t ever start dissecting dogs. As a dog lover, I couldn’t dissect a dog…:o

        • lucewriter

          I posted a petition against cat dissection in one of the previous comments. it mentions dogs, too. Dogs are mentioned at one point in the article, but they don’t clarify if they are still being used: “Animals like cats and dogs are often acquired by biological supply companies from shelters.” I can’t believe schools are still doing this!!!!!!

    • lucewriter

      Thanks so much! Yes, where do they come from? Horrible. And it is such a shame that it turns some kids off science. Thanks for writing!

  7. Phew, I am glad I missed out on those experiments. However, I wish I would have paid more attention to science as a kid, but fortunately it’s not too late to learn now.

    • lucewriter

      That’s why I try to watch science shows on TV and read little bits and pieces. But without the foundation I know I’m missing a lot. You were SO lucky to miss out on them!

  8. It’s never too late to allow science into your heart 😛

    • lucewriter

      Peter, I think it’s in my heart, but not my mind ;)! Missing the foundation, as I did, makes it more difficult to understand, although I love science shows on TV!

  9. I had to dissect a frog in 7th grade, I wasn’t thrilled but I managed. I don’t think I could have handled a cat.

    • lucewriter

      What a terrible thing to put kids through. And then I just found out that they are still doing that in some places. I posted a link to a November 2012 petition in a comment above where people were protesting making kids dissect cats in California!

  10. If only there was an animal everyone could agree on dissecting. Like a mammal version of a jellyfish. Nobody cares about jellyfish.

    • lucewriter

      Harry, probably somebody cares about jellyfish LOL. Is it like the idea of eating a cow, but not a cat or dog? It probably is for a lot of people. Would I have rebelled if I hadn’t heard the word “cat”? Probably, but not necessarily, because it took a lot of panic to cause me to rebel against something I had never heard of anybody else rebelling against.

  11. Luckily dissecting was never an issue in the Uk we just don’t do it, but if you still have a passion you can always embrace science again 🙂

    • lucewriter

      You are so lucky! (so are the animals in the UK) Yes, I love learning about science, though I will never be good at it as I lack the foundation. Thank you for stopping by!

      • I can kind of relate, I also missed out on the good foundation but that was due to one teacher ruining science for me, though its good to still have your passion

        • lucewriter

          That’s another issue I have with science education–that although there are some stunningly amazing science teachers out there, the educating of future science teachers lacks teaching the teaching part of “teaching science.”

  12. I’m just the opposite. I LOVE Science. Graduated a few years ago with my Bachelors of Science in Biology. Ihad a class where we dissected something new every other week. The class never smelled good but it was so interesting. You find out a lot about yourself when dissecting other animals. How and why things work….and I think it better prepares you for life in general. Whenever u have questions, just ask me! 😉

    • Did you ever dissect a cat? What’s the strangest thing you dissected? Have you seen “Inside nature’s giants”?

      • Yup. I dissected a cat my freshman year of college in Anatomy I. It was probably my least fav to do just because it was so hairy :/ And lets see…there were lots of things I dissected…here’s a list of a few I’ve done. lamphrey, shark, turtle, salamander, fetal pig, sea urchin, squid, fish, bird, cow heart…several more. I’m not sure what you consider weird though. One time we let an animal rot in a “cooker” like thing and then boiled the meat off…then had to put the bones together in a display. The rotting part was definitely weird. And yeah, I saw a few episodes of that show, I think it was last year?? Pretty interesting stuff!

  13. I took 10th grade Biology in 1973. We dissected frogs. I learned nothing.

  14. Kitty! (Short attention span.)

  15. An advantage of going into physics and math — no dissecting anything. The stuff that’s “dissected” in those classes is too small to see under any microscope. 🙂

  16. Aw, that’s too bad you missed out on a subject that you enjoyed. When I was in high school, they dissected cats in Anatomy and Physiology not Biology which made it possible to avoid that class without missing out on other science classes. I would not have wanted to dissect a cat either! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed 🙂
    Blessings,
    -Jen
    http://thelilyandthemarrow.wordpress.com/

  17. I had similar fears of taking up science – to dissect insects and animals- though by the time, I cam of age, this process was removed and thank god for it. am glad you opted so and they allowed you a change. kudos on being freshly pressed.

    • lucewriter

      I’m so glad they didn’t make you go through it!! I am glad I did too–just wish they hadn’t made me choose that way. Thank you so much!!
      Luanne

  18. I finished my science GCSEs 3 years ago (I’m from the UK) and the only dissecting I had to do was a pig’s heart. I actually found it interesting and not too gory, but I think I’d feel a lot different if we dissected whole animals.

    • lucewriter

      Lauren, that makes sense. It’s likely that the heart was a “byproduct” of the meat industry as that seems plausible. Thanks for weighing in!!
      Luanne

  19. Erm, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m assuming most of the people in the discussion here are meat eaters. Then why this aversion to dead frogs and cats? I’ve never understood!

    • lucewriter

      Hi Sosha, thanks for weighing in! Not sure why you’re assuming the people discussing the subject are all meat eaters. Whether individuals are or are not, it seems to me that killing animals for meat is not the same thing as killing animals either to be used as scientific experiments for kids or animals being killed in the very process of being used as scientific experiments for kids. To kill animals for this purpose seems wrong to me. Another issue here: I’m not sure why it isn’t considered child abuse to take children who have been raised with cats as pets/members of the family and then shove a dead one at him or her and say “go at it.”

      • Hi, Lucewriter, I repeat, I’m assuming most people to be meat eaters. And I can bet you my assumption is true 🙂
        Killing for meat or experiments is the same in my eyes, for the reason behind both killings is a selfish purpose. In fact, to kill for consumption sounds even terrible to me, when compared to murder for science.

        In the West, a lot of families have pets, and it genuinely boggles me as to how the animal-loving nation devours meat?

        This is my opinion; not meant to particularly incite anybody.

        • Luanne

          I believe just the opposite of you–that torturing and killing animals for “science” is worse than eating. By “science,” you mean many things, including both education (not necessary in that case) and studying diseases and improving brands of shampoo. Eating, which is natural to carnivores, is not in the category of “science” in those terms.

      • I’ve been a vegan since 1982 and I can assure you that maybe 2% of the population are strict vegetarians or vegans. The rest eat meat. But, as lucewriter says, “killing animals for meat is not the same as killing them for scientific experiments”, because most meat eaters are disconnected from the reality of the feed lot and slaughter house. The meat they eat comes cut into small pieces and packaged in sterile looking super markets. When they are cooking the meat and eating it, I’m sure that most meat eaters don’t even think about that meat coming from an animal, being stuffed to bursting in a feed lot and then killed with a piston slammed into the brain before being cut into parts to be shipped to markets, wrapped in clear wrap and sold off as a product just like fruit and vegetables are sold.

        How many today would eat meat if everyone had to raise a chicken, a pig, a sheep, a goat and cow and then kill them with their own hands before butchering them to get ready for the freezer?

        And I didn’t convert to veganism to spare animals. I did it for health reasons and that paid because I’m sure I’d be dead now from cancer or heart disease if I hadn’t done it. About 80% of disease is considered a lifestyle disease and diet is part of a person’s lifestyle. Eat healthy food and drink water and a person stands a chance to avoid 80% of all lifestyle diseases that include diabetes, most cancer and most heart disease. Meat and diary products contribute big time to those diseases.

        • I was raised vegetarian and continue to be one. Not because I love animals or anything, but I find the idea of eating an animal or its part too repulsive.

          And the worst kinds I believe are those who hunt and fish as hobby. It’s terrible… To watch a fish squirm and lash in your hook in your hand while you stand proud and laugh. Ugh.

          • There a former chef who has written a number of books. Can’t remember his name right now. He’s rather famous. He went on a world eating tour for a TV program he hosted, and when he was in Spain or Portugal, he described how the farmers there treated their animals with respect even when they were killing them and butchering the carcass. There was no laughter. These people he talked about took this very seriously. It was interesting.

  20. What you say about your earth science class is such a shame because it so closely fits my experience too.

    • lucewriter

      Isn’t it true that it could be such a cool class?! I mean, it’s a beautiful planet. But even my teacher didn’t believe in that course.

  21. Sosha, good point about meat eaters. That’s why I can’t eat meat. I just keep thinking where it came from! I still have the bag that my fetal pig came in 40-something years ago. I learned a lot dissecting it, and I have often wondered what happened to the mother pig. Did they slaughter her to get the fetal pigs? Schools nowadays can get models, but I bet those models get knocked around a lot.

    • lucewriter

      cmadsen, I am stunned that you still have the bag. Did you keep it as a reminder of a terrible experience, so that you would remember not to eat meat? I would love to hear more about this.

      • lucewriter, I kept the bag because it has a picture of a smiling fetal pig on it, happy that I am about to pick it apart. Even in 11th grade I had a sense of the absurdity of that. I didn’t become a vegetarian until I was in my 20s, although I did stop eating hot dogs once I read a label on a package of them that said one ingredient was beef lips.

    • Cmadsen: Exactly, right?! I’ve been vegetarian since birth, but I’m guessing that if I were a meat eater and loved animals at the same time, I’d be one confused person!

      If you claim to love animals, how can you bear the terrible slaughters?

  22. Ha! I love this! While I did take science classes, I remember almost nothing from them. My lack of science knowledge almost deterred me from my decision to home school my kids until I found a program (Classical Conversations) that points out that one should not expect one’s own children to learn something that one does not feel capable of learning oneself and so educates and empowers parents to learn new subjects alongside their kids. We’re starting our new science curriculum this fall. Let the re-education commence!

    • lucewriter

      Ooh, I love that you’re going to be taking science yourself! That is so cool! Taking it with your kids will be like seeing it through your own child-eyes.
      Luanne

  23. What a cat! I could never dissect such a magnificent animal as a cat. (I live with two.) Thank goodness my class stuck with earthworms, fish, frogs, and the like.

    • lucewriter

      What a great word for cats: magnificent. It’s so true. Yes, this pic is of my dear Tiger, a cat with an attitude a lot bigger than she is ;).
      Luanne

  24. If there were a “Love” button I’d have clicked that one too! 🙂

  25. I really liked my anatomy class.. We had to dissect cats, pigs, frogs, worms, starfish and many more. It was a very interesting class..

    http://utruthkn.wordpress.com/

  26. We had to dissect toads. Mine had a cockroach in its stomach :-/

  27. alexanderschimpf

    It is strange how the seemingly innocuous decision to avoid one class (for good reasons–a cat!?!) ended up steering you away from an entire branch of knowledge. Not that I’m judging: as far as my grasp of science is concerned, my toaster works because of magic.

    • Luanne

      I have one of those toasters, too. And it’s kind of scary to think of how we direct our lives based on a decision we make when we’re just kids.

  28. Fascinating. Thank you. By the way, I read in today’s paper that protection for chimps against experiments is being strengthened–captive chimps used to be classified as “threatened,” while chimps in the wild are “endangered,” which protects them. Now both will be “endangered”–and thus “off limits to invasive experiments,” says the paper. I’m thinking that we humans are not consistent about why we either kill or safeguard certain animals–useful for teaching is one debatable measure, useful for testing human medicines is another one, useful for eating another, being lovable another, being supposedly “dangerous” (snakes) another. It seems that their simply being alive is not enough of a justification for us to let them be.

  29. I think that for children and teenagers, the role of the educational system is to get them interested in science, or in school in general. In Canada, (and I am assuming it is the case everywhere), we complain that we don’t have enough doctors, yet we’re not doing anything to stimulate the children’s interest for biology. How many teenagers (especially girls) really enjoy science? Not a lot. And scaring them with dissections is really not the best way to change things. I LOVE science, especially biology, and I have dissected many animals, but even I would never dissect a cat. Fortunately, nowadays, students can ask to skip the dissection part and still take the biology class. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you.

    • Luanne

      Ah, you think similarly to me! Why turn off kids who would make good scientists and doctors and turn them toward the humanities? Why not make science a humane place for students and future scientists?

  30. That’s an excellent point about biology begetting chemistry begetting physics. Dissection forms an unusual but discussion-worthy part of the larger world of “tracking” students and enforcing the consequences of academic decisions these young people may or may not be able to foresee.

    • Luanne

      Gaudy, precisely! By giving up one course I gave up on a whole subject, both in high school and then in college. And there have to be many many people this has happened to.

  31. Here I am at the bottom of a long line of admirers. What thought-provoking, lovely, poetic writing. I was surprised you had skipped college-prep science, but I wasn’t surprised why.

    In my schools the objects of dissection were worm and frog. I did the worm in Biology I and failed to find much in it. I skipped Biology II (frog) and took Chemistry I instead. I didn’t apply myself in science classes. I took botany and zoology in college. In zoology we were to dissect a clam. Once again, one part looked much like another.

    It seems to me that Portage was quite a school to offer the opportunity to dissect a mammal. Still, Portage could have provided a substitute task for animal lovers. I’m sure you would have excelled in science.

    • Luanne

      The school was so shocked that anybody asked to skip biology because of dissections that they just complied without a whimper. My parents did help me talk to them BTW, which is kind of astonishing to me in retrospect. Maybe the reason they hadn’t had anybody else ask was because of the hunting culture we grew up in in Michigan?

  32. Science the Essential topic: Taking things apart apparently was the goal, but apparently approached without tact. Of course I had a great cat – later-
    Back to taking things apart
    If in grade school a program was created to encourage the child to explore several areas of technology, specifically mechanical. In my opinion It’s where our nation started, finding a way for a machine to make a days work easier / more productive. Then begins the “spin-offs and other applications”
    Food – how to raise it or hunt it – probably one important area? Make a better arrow?
    to me humor, as I noticed someone on the expressway a couple days ago with a huge box strapped to the top of their car headed the other way. Obviously never thought of any form of aircraft or Physics – that’s PHYSICS , not Psychics… Straps straining – the box bent up at the front, one more headwind gust and whatever is in the box gets bent double, ruined. Maybe move the box back 3 feet before the straps are tightened? Oh. and Earth Science: Now anyone can look up books on “Lithoprobe” and information on all those tilted jumbled rocks that form mountain ranges, like an iceburg, much more below the surface.

    • Luanne

      I love your post! Yes, taking things apart. What I would have loved would have been to learn how to build a motor! Stuff like that. Would that be taught in advanced shop or in science? It ought to be science if it’s not.

      • Thanks, I was kinda lucky- on the farm many neighbors brought their broken stuff over to be fixed. — Pages– , but one moment was really cool. At age 5 I had already taken a couple lawn mower engines apart (my dad was brilliant ) “Would you like to rebuild one? ” he said. I found a worn out one at a farm sale. I overhauled it and it started first pull (( OOHH I was Hooked)) and we used it for 15 years
        Now I have a design build remodel business

        • Luanne

          That’s a great experience. My dad wouldn’t even let me PUSH an electric lawn mower. I had to use the old push mower so I wouldn’t injure myself ;). Maybe all kids should be creating batteries and stuff like that from a young age.

  33. I dissected a quail in my secondary school. Two students work as a team. And we had quails as lunch that day. Nightmare.

  34. My experiences of secondary school biology in the UK (1971 – 1976) involved dissecting a bull’s eye in the first year (age 11) and a rat somewhat later. The rats were supplied well dead and I don’t remember anyone freaking out over either.
    For those who missed out on school science and would like to get to grips with it, I recommend Thames & Kosmos’s c3000 chemistry set (http://www.thamesandkosmos.com/products/chem/c30002.html) which takes you through most of secondary school chemistry. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

    • Luanne

      Thanks for the recommendation, whitedragon. I always wanted a complete chemistry set when I was a kid. I remember when I was really little my dad gave me a small used set, so of course most everything had already been used up!

  35. As much as I love science. I love my animals too, though I havent been to the Biology Side much that we had to dissect frogs, but the teacher dissected them for us. And I never did agree with that, science shouldn’t be like this. We shouldn’t have to kill others to ‘know’ more, there has to be another way.
    And besides, how of many of these students who are made to dissect frogs actually do something later on pertaining to Medicine? Better use multimedia.

    • Luanne

      I love what you say here! No, we shouldn’t have to kill to know more. There are other ways. Software, models, etc. Wonderful comment!

  36. Pingback: A Fresh Start on Science | Writer Site

  37. One should never have to dissect something you’d name. I can’t eat rabbit or horsemeat for similar reasons.

    My last science class, 9th grade biology, required that we dissect a frog. Mine had severely diseased intestines. When I was diagnosed with seriously diseased intestines a year later, all I could think of was that poor frog.

    Great post!

    • Luanne

      Oh my, what a strange coincidence, Elyse! I didn’t even know that could happen to a frog. Why did I think that? I don’t know. Because they have short lives? That’s what happens when you don’t know science ;). Thanks!!!

  38. As someone very passionate about biology, I find it quite sad that you had to give it up. I was quite worried about the need to be able to disect animals for the career path I wish to take, but to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed pulling apart a rats intestine! And I did find the experience much better than anything I could’ve learned from just watching a video. If you are genuinely still interested in biology, just for the sake of learning, there are so many ways that is possible these days and it’d be crazy not to take up the oppertunities the internet gives us for this. For example, I am subscribed to numberous science related youtube channels, I also look at reviews to find interesting books, and The Guardian has a great online science news section, I also read the New Scientist and am always looking out for new interesting areas of science that we don’t cover in the classroom. I have also just started a blog to share the information I find, so please follow me if you’re interested and don’t let the restrictions of a classroom restrict your learning!

    • Luanne

      I’ll definitely come check out your blog! Blogs are the most fun way to learn anything! Thanks for stopping by and for your other great ideas!

  39. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I probably would have collapsed into a fetal position if any of my science classes had required me to dissect a cat 🙂 There’s still plenty of ways to learn about science (as Annadyas mentions above). So your conscience is clear and it’s not too late to learn about sicence!

  40. I just wrote a Father’s Day post, entitled “Man of Steel, a teacher.” It is about my Science Club high school teacher. You may enjoy it, and believe me, I was weak in all science and math courses! Take care and congratulations on your being Freshly Pressed!

  41. I’m thrilled to see that someone else had How and Why Wonder Books! I was beginning to think I had imagined them!

  42. Pingback: Sunday Sampler for June 16, 2003 | shanjeniah

  43. Pingback: How Disney Made Me Worry about Pigeons | Writer Site

  44. This is such great writing — and I know exactly what you mean. I was the same way, and I opted out of science and math way too early in my education. That decision has limited my life in many ways. Luckily I am married to a scientist, and I am learning many wonderful things about the world!

  45. I probably wouldn’t have liked it at school either but these days, as a wildlife lover, the more cat dissections the better I say. Dissect the lot of them!

  46. Following comments quietly here. on the wild cat topic – killing birds: at a science gathering recently, wind turbine bird strikes had been brought up. A real scientist can only roll the eyes- cats consume theirs so the evidence soon disappears. Hint – it’s many times what wind turbines kill–

    • Luanne

      I admit I do worry about those windmills every time I drive through the Palm Springs area. Cats who are allowed to roam outside are just doing what comes naturally to them when they kill or harm birds. All four of my cats are kept indoors at all times–to protect them and absolutely to protect the wildlife, especially the birds. Windmills are put up by humans who know that they will harm wildlife. On the other hand, I guess we need the windmills. I wish there was a way to protect the birds from both windmills and cats who don’t need them to eat.

  47. My high school emphasized science and technical subjects. Since it seemed deeply wrong for a creature to be killed or pithed (a euphemism) for my edification, I opted out of biology. But our courses were not rigidly chained as they were in your school, so I still took chemistry and physics. (I am now a physicist.) Because each person learns differently, chaining the courses was a terrible idea. But you still have many routes for learning science in your own sequence, driven by the questions you have, in the order in which you have them. There are many good books giving introductory and intermediate accounts of various topics in science. I especially recommend biographies of scientists, since in them you see how our current understandin developed in context (our minds evolved to digest narratives especially well), and there is lots of human interest. Some of the courses from the Teaching Company are good. Your library may have them. And as for Earth Science, it is nowadays much more exciting and much better tied in with with all the other parts of science and society. It is now the key to understanding climate change and every other environmental problem.

    • Luanne

      I am blown away by the thought that you are a physicist who didn’t take biology in high school. Did you go to school in the U.S. and if not, which country? I used to read biographies of scientists when I was a kid. I’ll check out adult ones! Thank you so much for your suggestions.

      • I went to a high school in New York City. Five thousand students in a ten story building in a seedy neighborhood. It had two groups of students: those interested in science and engineering, and vocational students. Four years of shop and four years of technical drawing were required for all. Not very personal, but there were a few friends who shared my interests, and good teachers.

  48. Great post! Funny, I also blogged about science last week, and then a follow-up yesteray. Stop by RandomAnnAcdotes.wordpress.com to read those or my other fun blog http://www.carolynahyankee.wordpress.com.

  49. Sorry I’m late to your Freshly Pressed party! Congrats. I’ve been drowning in kids home from school (for too long). I did not have any qualms about dissection. Did the frog. Did a pig with my cousin when I visited her during the end of their school year. Did a pig later, much later, when I thought I would go into medicine as a second career.

    Interesting that you had to turn your back on science. Today, many in education think that the bio-chem-physics progression is all wrong. I agree. If you don’t know about forces and chemistry, you can’t truly appreciate the beauty of living creatures. Our bodies are wonders of the intersection of all three branches of science.

    • Luanne

      Hah, thanks so much! My mother wanted me to be a psychiatrist, but I knew that a lot of dissections were between me and that goal. So when are they going to change the progression? It is super annoying that you have to one and then another. So rigid. I love this: “Our bodies are wonders of the intersection of all three branches of science.”

      • Some places have already changed the progression, but most, sadly, have not. It will take a lot of hammering to get educators to see things the way scientists do. Thanks for the compliment.

        • Luanne

          I know it wasn’t changed for my kids who graduated in 03 and 06 from a California h.s. However, their biology classes had no dissections and very little “lab” of any kind.

  50. Pingback: Look What Came in the Mail! | Writer Site

I'd love to hear your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.