This is why we should do a good job teaching non-majors

Tue Nov 18 18:01:02 EST 1997

In a message dated 18/11/1997 4:01:59 PM, Kenneth M Klemow wrote:

>The lesson here is that at least some of our students in our non-majors
>courses will undoubtedly have a large impact on society after graduatation.
>It is crucial that we provide them with an outstanding foundation in
>biology (and other sciences) so that they don't mislead others with
>erroneous views about the living world.

Thumbs down on "non-majors" science courses. Where was my non-majors English?
History? What about non-majors social science?

To heck with the ones "who will undoubtedly have a large impact on society
after graduation". Of all the things any modern citizen should know, science
should be at the top of the list. This is important suff.

What follows is a quote from one of S. J. Gould's essays in _Natural History_
magazine. I put it together for my faculty and though you all might enjoy it.

________________________________Quote follows
A commonplace of our culture, and the complaint of teachers, holds that, of
all subjects, science ranks as the most difficult to learn and therefore the
scariest and least accessible of all disciplines. Science may be central to
our practical lives, but its content remains mysterious to nearly all
Americans, who must therefore take its benefits on faith ... or fear its
alien powers and intrusions. [...] We suspect that public knowledge of
science may be extraordinarily shallow, both because few people have any
interest or familiarity with the subject ... and because those who profess
concern have too superficial an understanding.

[material deleted]

Common belief is ass-backward. We think that science is intrinsically hard,
scary, and arcane, and that teachers can only beat the necessary knowledge,
by threat and exhortation, into a small minority blessed with inborn
propensity. NO [emphasis mine]. Most of us are born with a love of science
(which is, after all, only a method for learning the facts and principles of
the natural world surrounding us ...). This love has to be beaten out of us if
 we are to fall by the wayside, perversely led to say that we hate or fear
the subject.

[material deleted]

And so, finally, the task of nurture and rescue goes to those who represent
what I have often called the most noble word in our language, teacher.

[material deleted]

Rage ... against the dying of the light of childhood's fascination.

Stephen Jay Gould
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Quote ends

Dave Williams
Science Department Chair
Valencia Community College, East Campus
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail
Orlando, FL 32825
407-299-5000 Ext. 2443
profdhw at

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