Real Life

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by deserttrumpet, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Feb 22, 2007

    What do you do when the kids start to whine that they'll never use this information in "real life"? I teach biology and every now and then I get the whole "when will I need to know how photosynthesis works in real life?" I try to explain that it may not be the actual information, but just being able to think and operate at that level, but they just don't believe me. I notice that I often get this question when the subject is most difficult or when they lack motivation to learn. Usually the kid ends up doing his work anyway, however, this question really irks me.
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 23, 2007

    Hm. Can you lead them through connecting the dots between photosynthesis and petrochemicals? - that is, how we know chemical energy is stored in petroleum, where it came from, and maybe even what we can guess about the environmental consequences of using it for fuel?
     
  4. Exo

    Exo Rookie

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    Feb 23, 2007

    I teach bio, too. But I am also a former veterinarian. So I USED bio in real life. So whenever possible, I try to connect what we study to "case studies" taken from veterinary medicine and human medicine. I taught photosynthesis as a REVERSE process of cellular respiration. I did a "farming Case Study" on different conditions of photosynthesis and a lab with elodea and bromthymol blue. Very neat. And I had my friends - veterinary doctors and techs come and speak on importance of basic bio in madicine.
     
  5. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Feb 23, 2007

    Although I can often connect what we are learning to "real life" the response I get is "well, I'm going to go work at my dad's store and I won't need to know any of this stuff." Often it seems that they just don’t value what a good education has to offer them. I would be very interested in your farming lab, though. The only lab I was able to do with them on photosynthesis was chlorophyll chromatography (which they did enjoy). We are very limited on supplies and funds where I am at. I would very much love to have more guest speakers. We did have a guy come in last week and share his tarantula collection with the class. Currently I am trying to get a hold of a beekeeper. I happen to be new to the area and don’t know a lot of people.
     
  6. Exo

    Exo Rookie

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    Feb 23, 2007

    If you will give me your e-mail, I could send you some of labs /case studies I use (I write them myself). I am also very limited in supplies so I try to get around with whatever useful stuff I can find scavenging through our ruined lab room.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 24, 2007

    Exo, that's grand - wish I could be in your class!
     
  8. trina

    trina Companion

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    Feb 24, 2007

    I'll share 2 of my responses to my kids when they start this "not gong to use this in real life" business...

    1. Name me one time it is good to be ignorant.
    2. Because you never know where life will take you. You may THINK you know that you are not going to use this, but one day you could end up needing this information. Learning in school is like packing a "life suitcase" of information, and it's my job to put as much stuff in that suitcase as I can, because you might be far along on your life journey one day and need to pull that info out. Then **Jokingly** Look at me- I didn't think I would need it either when I was in school, but Hey, here I am, teaching it to you. And I had no idea.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 24, 2007

    In my math class I say, "Well, you might want to be an architect, an engineer, in construction, an accountant, own your own business, a carpenter, a scientist, an inventor, a doctor, a vet ..... You might want to get a loan some day, a credit card, maybe a mortgage, buy a car and not get ripped off, figure out sale prices quickly, balance your checkbook ..." By this time, they get the idea!
     
  10. Exo

    Exo Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2007

    I agree with you totally and completely. Especially with point 2. Thats what my father used to tell me, "this is the time to collect the information. There will be time to use it one way or another. Your knowledge - is what is truly yours. And strangely the time to get it is NOW. Later you may not have this opportunity."
     
  11. Exo

    Exo Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2007

    Thanks a lot, TeacherGroupie.
    I often hear from my kids (I have a bunch of them coming to my classroom every morning even though they don't have me first period) that I am the toughest teacher in the school (I teach by direct instruction, I lecture, I give a lot of work, and the labs/case studies/activities are limited to once a week, while the rest of science teachers use "inquiry based approach"), but they learm the most in my class. And they like it.
     
  12. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Feb 24, 2007

    "Name me one time it is good to be ignorant."

    I like this line a lot.
     
  13. Docere

    Docere Rookie

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    Feb 25, 2007

    I find it slightly ironic they are asking when they're ever going to need Biology in life, when Biology is the study of life. Anyway...

    I really like trina's two examples. Also, they need to learn about how photosynthesis because without photosynthesis, we could not exist. There would be no oxygen and no plants, because plants need photosynthesis to harness energy from the sun. Humanity needs to know that photosynthesis is essential for us and all other life on the earth as we know it.

    Another good response for "when are we ever going to need to know this?" is "you'll need to know it for the test."
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 25, 2007

    Whenever possible, I do give an example.

    For example, I recently covered the conic sections in Precalc and the question came up. (Not as a challenge, merely as "does this stuff have any really practical applications?)

    I told them about:
    -the Hall of Whispers in DC. It's in the Capital, and is shaped like an ellipse. If you stand on one of the two foci (marked on the floor), you can whisper. Someone on the other focus (also marked, but across the room) will hear you, but the crowd in between you will not. Picture the use this would have been for politicians 200 years ago (or whenever the building was actually built: certainly before the current technology in communications)
    One of the Seniors was so impressed she asked her history teacher about it, and mentioned that she planned to go see it someday. He told her that there's a similar room at Grand Central Station in (much closer) NYC.
    I also mentioned that I would imagine that there are lots of other uses in acoustics.
    -- Hailey's comet follows a roughly elliptical path. That's why it takes so long for it to come around (ballpark 75 years??) . I mentioned that it had already come in my lifetime, so they were in for a long wait.

    -- Contact lenses are shaped like parabolas. So are car headlights.

    All this while I was checking homework. So it took no classtime and made my point. Even if THEY personally wouldn't use this stuff again, someone does and it's important knowledge.
     
  15. dendrite

    dendrite Rookie

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    Feb 27, 2007

    I remind my students that their bodies didn't come with an owner's manual -- that education is the closest thing they'll ever have to a set of directions for keeping their biological machines running smoothly for many decades.
    Educated people avoid falling victims of scams. People will tell you anything, to sell you anything. Scammers are bottom feeders that thrive on ignorance. Tell them about the new, expensive shampoo with "NEW, IMPROVED! LIPIDS ADDED!" emblazoned on the label. Before shelling out too many greenbacks, students might want to know that lipid is another word for FAT.
    Besides, what ever happened to curiosity? It depends, too, on how teachers present topics. Would you prefer to discuss methanagenous monera or farting bacteria? Guess which one has middle school kids paying rapt attention to the lecture?
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 28, 2007

    Well, and that's also when you noodge them to unpack the word methanagenous. (Which should probably be methanagenic, actually - methana-, 'swamp gas, methane' (combining form) and gen- 'produce or generate' are both Greek-derived, but the adjective-forming suffix -ous is from Latin; the Greek version is -ic.)
     
  17. dendrite

    dendrite Rookie

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    Feb 28, 2007

    You're correct! Thank you. Sharing a fascination for languages does open up a whole new world for students. I've copied your derivation to add to the posters in my room.:angel: :thanks:
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 28, 2007

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