Tag Archives: Science education

Science and Me Redux

Over seven years ago, I posted “How and Why I Don’t Know Science,” which was “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress. I’m going to paste it here so you can read it if you like and if you didn’t at that time. Why am I posting it all over again?

I am reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This is how the book is described on Goodreads:

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Werner, the German boy, is a genius at science, math, engineering, mechanics. I am not quite 1/3 of the way into the book and the two main characters have separate threads. Werner’s thread makes science, especially applied sciences, sound so fascinating that it makes me regret that I never learned much science in school. Thinking about this reminded me of my post all those years ago. The post explains how it came about that I didn’t learn science.

Once in awhile I like to go back and look at something I wrote a long time ago. I’ve had seven years of writing experience after composing that blog post. I’ve also changed as my life has evolved over time. Since I wrote it I have become more involved with my writing and more involved with cat rescue. And I’ve gotten farther away from my childhood.

The main reason for feeling that I am further from my life (and me) as a child is that because I have written so much about my childhood since then I have been able to let some of it go. Once I write about an event, I unpin it from deep inside me and it begins to float away. Very useful way to get rid of bad memories.

Until one goes back and reads a memory, of course ;).

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Here is 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.

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Obviously seven years ago I had four cats. But now I have six!

Kana says, “Have the best week possible!”

Kana is next to my cardboard standing work desk

and the painting on the wall behind her was by my MIL;

the table is one we call “kitchen” but actually functions as cat feeding station

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Reading, Vintage American culture

A Fresh Start on Science

What a great conversation on Monday’s post “How and Why I Don’t Know Science.” Thanks to the kindness of the WordPress editor, the post was Freshly Pressed, so my story about high school science class got a lot of readers, both new and old friends.

As an aside, being Freshly Pressed is such a wonderful phenomenon. When I first started this blog, a guest post about “Lake Erie” by my good and long-time friend Wilma Kahn was Freshly Pressed. Wilma had a lively discussion that went on for quite some time. It’s so much fun talking to bloggers. Ever notice that other bloggers can be smarter and more interesting than some other people in your life ;)? Just sayin’.

Back to Monday’s post. Because I talked about giving up studying science over the thought of dissecting a cat, a lot of the discussion that’s still ongoing has been about animal dissection, animal issues, and science pedagogy. All subjects wide open for debate. All subjects which stir strong emotions in readers.

I know where I stand on those issues, as is evidenced in the piece. Where I am confused is where I stand on science and learning science at my age.

Science makes me feel stupid, and I hate feeling stupid. That’s why I long ago “liked” that page on Facebook called I Fucking Love Science (a catchy name, but one I find a little embarrassing). If you’re on Facebook and haven’t yet liked this page, run to your Facebook account and do so. It provides interesting scientific facts in bite-sized pieces. You can see a life-sized model of a blue whale heart, pictures of the penis-head fish, and other goodies. You can learn that Mars has boron which might be crucial for the formation of life.

Although I will admit to being a lifelong student, I have no intention of making myself go to school again for science. Somehow I don’t see myself in front of the Bunsen burner.

In the comments for Monday’s post, Lauren at From Screen to Words suggested a Youtube website called Crash Course. I plan to spend some time over there.

Recently my parents gave me a video course, which I haven’ t watched yet. It’s called Science and Religion and is produced by The Teaching Company. It sounds similar to the pseudo-science class I took in college–a course about science, but not science. I looked up the course offerings, and they have a lot of actual science courses. Maybe I’ll start with this freebie and then move on to the hard stuff like Physics and Our Universe, Understanding the Human Body (no dissection worries here), Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, and best yet, Joy of Science.

I’ve given myself a lot of challenges in the past few years: write a memoir, write a play with my daughter, put together a poetry manuscript, keep up the blogs, and other non-writing challenges such as the diet that is staring me in the face.  I’m going to add “learn more science” to my daily to do list and see how much science I can cram in this old brain.  I’ll try the video courses. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go back to my old How and Why Book filled with science experiments for children. That might be my speed.

The Joys Of Scientific Experimentation

The Joys Of Scientific Experimentation (Photo credit: spike55151)

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Filed under Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Writing