was team teaching; now FACTS?

Wed Jul 14 11:58:54 EST 1999

In a message dated 07/14/1999 10:02:44 AM, drobinson at bellarmine.edu writes:

>(yes, even
>memorizing!) vocabulary is a critical part of that process.

Dave Robinson you blaspheme!  <big, wide grin here>

Perhaps we should put things in perspective. We need *whole* students, 
teachers, and scientists. What would we think of a politician who didn't know 
which came first, the French Revolution or the Spanish-American War? What 
would we think of a biologist who didn't know what glycolysis or a polar bond 
was? Could such a one use, as an excuse, that their specialty was mammalian 

Can we have surgeons who know how to make an incision in the body wall but 
know neither where the gall bladder lies nor what its function is? It's like 
the chicken and the egg. Neither comes first, they come together. You can't 
have one without the other.

We are certainly doing disservice to any potential biological graduate 
student if, in the context of teaching biology, we don't at least delineate 
some minimal set of important content, such as the chemiosmotic hypothesis, 
Darwin's theory of natural selection, Mendel's law of segregation, the 
Watson/Crick theory of DNA function, and so on. When they discover the need 
to know these things on their own it will be much too late to avoid the 
embarrassment of ignorance.

I don't mean to negate the long neglected need for actively teaching the 
process of science. But should we go as far as Bill Purves in his assertion 
that there is no specific fact which must be learned in undergraduate 
biology? Perhaps what he means if that there is no one fact so important that 
it could not, in the interest of better learning, be omitted (but certainly 
not along with every other such fact).

And while we're at it, what about descriptive science? Don't students need to 
understand that the quest for pattern, classification, organization, and law 
are valid research objectives? Science is not strictly experimental. When and 
how do we incorporate this vital aspect of biology into the "process" of 

Dave Williams
Science Department
Valencia Community College, East Campus
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail
Orlando, FL  32825
profdhw at aol.com
407-299-5000 x2443

More information about the Plant-ed mailing list