Dealing w/ Student Questions

wetsel_r at wums.wustl.edu wetsel_r at wums.wustl.edu
Fri Feb 4 13:38:21 EST 1994


In a previous article, viancour at umbc.edu (Dr. Terry A. Viancour (BIOL)) wrote:
> 
>As internet access becomes increasingly universal, the professional
>newsgroups can anticipate a deluge of questions from students. Until now
>limited access to the internet has meant that postings to the BIOSCI
>newsgroups have been limited to professionals and graduate students.  This

** Some deleted **

> 
>A couple of easy solutions to the probable increase in postings of student
>questions have come to mind.  One is to insist that teachers have their
>students begin the subject line with the words "Student Post".  That way

>Terry Viancour, Biological Sciences     | inet:   viancour at umbc7.umbc.edu



Terry brings up a number a valid points and potentially good solutions. 
Some may argue and feel free, but *where* I was trained (Univ of Cal 
system) we were taught in graduate school that in being trained for our 
advanced degrees that we had an implicit obligation to educate the public 
both inside and outside academic settings.  John Q. Public's perception of 
what science *IS* is horrifying and IMHO what is needed is more open lines 
of communication between researchers and the public.  Given the public's 
tainted view of science and scientists, I think we do have an obligation to 
answer questions from the public.  One could argue that since some of our 
support (depends on the lab) comes from the government, which gets its 
money from taxpayers, that we are in a way accountable to the public for 
what we do.

Not everyone has to respond to a simple question like "What is cloning?" 
but hopefully someone (or a few) out there will.  What we can not afford to
do, in my view, is dash or temper any interest in science from a middle or
high school student.  Even in light of the current funding crisis, the cost 
of ruining the interest of potential scientists is too high.

My simple $0.02 worth...

David
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