Why do they need to study biology?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,002

    Dec 1, 2016

    Apparently, our admin like to do random drop ins and ask students why what they're learning is important. I get the reasoning for this, but when it was done in my classroom, apparently a few students responded with "I don't know, I'm never going to use this in life."

    So I'm stuck trying to answer why students need to learn biology, and at this precise moment, unless they're going to become doctors or nurses, or some other kind of scientist, I'm really not sure why they would need to know it other than the general answer of they should be informed about a wide variety of topics and learning more things helps them to think.

    Is there any concrete indisputable answer for why students should learn biology or any other specific science?
     
  2.  
  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,948
    Likes Received:
    1,141

    Dec 1, 2016

    Because getting a high school diploma means that they are "generally" educated, meaning they have a clue in general how life works: besides knowing how to perform basic functions in math, critical and logical thinking (again, math), know history and what happened in the world, what has recently happened in the world and in this country that still affects them, know how to read something and understand it and compose a piece of writing that is coherent and gets the point across, know how to advocate for themselves using proper English (English and finally... biology, so that they have a basic understand how the living world works around them. Why having a few live plants in their home would improve the air quality, why they can't expect their dog and they cat to mate and have weird little babies, ... these are some very basic things, but biology is all around us and they will use what they learn.
    And we want our future generation to be educated, and overall have an understand how life works, not only in the arts, because that's what they're good at, or only understand history because that's what they like, but to know a little bit about everything.

    Even when they go to college and know exactly what they want to major in, they still have to take general education cases. I majored in the humanities, (linguistics) but I still had to take 1 math class, and 3-4 science classes. Same reasoning.

    Students don't ask me as much anymore why they're learning English, but actually yesterday some said "I know English". Told them "do you think I'm trying to teach you how to speak English? No, this is an ESL class where you learn to speak it, I'm teaching you higher level vocabulary, how to read something and really understand it, on the surface and what it really means, how to actually summarize and retell something. How to speak for yourself and getting what you want. When your kid comes home from school with a paper for you to sign, you want to understand what you're signing, right?"
    These little speeches I go into always shut them up, I know they get it, and they ask less and less :)
     
    Obadiah, PallasAthena, MLB711 and 2 others like this.
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,414
    Likes Received:
    1,559

    Dec 1, 2016

    Because if you don't know how the world is supposed to work, someone might try to do something harmful to you and others in the name of profit, and you won't know why it's a bad idea. Biology is where we start to find out that chocolate might kill the family cat, that lead can create human brain damage, and that cutting down too many trees could kill us all.

    How's that for a start?
     
  5. Mr Magoo

    Mr Magoo Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2016
    Messages:
    261
    Likes Received:
    56

    Dec 1, 2016

    Some of those Biology students may become scientists and gene splice all kinds of things.

    With computers , all kinds of things may become commonplace someday.

    A mixed dog and cat may happen someday
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,948
    Likes Received:
    1,141

    Dec 1, 2016

    The point is that they will use biology in their daily life.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,002

    Dec 1, 2016

    I think my struggle mainly was not "why do kids need to learn biology" because there are plenty of general reasons why biology is important to understand, but my main struggle may be "why should kids find protein synthesis meaningful and necessary to study?" I find it fascinating because it tells us how genes code for proteins and give us the great diversity of phenotypes that we see in ourselves and all living things and it might be amazing to use this one day to genetically engineer things, but to students who don't see themselves graduating high school or think they're just going to play professional football (psh, yeah right) why should they care about this? They've already decided that they're not going to become scientists and there's very little I can do to change their minds at this stage. Most of them are right that they will probably never use this or think about this again.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,948
    Likes Received:
    1,141

    Dec 1, 2016

    Ok, they're not going to become scientists, but in high school they're not learning anything at that level. This is basic science that people should at least be exposed to. Do they forget it later on? Probably, but this goes back to the whole "being educated in the general sense" that I was talking about.

    In my country we had to take art, music, home ec, geography, separate grammar and literature class in addition to all the classes we take here. We also had to take a second language from grade 3-12, and a 3rd language from grade 9-12. And starting sixth grade: physics, seventh grade: chemistry in addition to other sciences, so by the time we got to 7th grade, science for us was biology, earth science/geography, physics and chemistry, every year through high school, not alternating one science class in year, etc. Everything, continuously.

    THAT was general education.
     
    Obadiah and PallasAthena like this.
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,958
    Likes Received:
    2,109

    Dec 1, 2016

    Hmmmm because it's the study of life?
     
  10. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Messages:
    490
    Likes Received:
    12

    Dec 1, 2016

    The fact that cells are strictly protein manufacturing wonders is amazing. Proteins are responsible for so many biological functions for living organisms. I want my students to develop an interest in understanding the basic physiology of how they function. If they have some basic knowledge, in case of injury or illness they can be a more active patient who can better work with their doctor because they have a better understanding of WHY their recovery/therapy requires specific treatment. (So many more reasons, but this is a biggie)
     
    otterpop likes this.
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,025
    Likes Received:
    1,614

    Dec 1, 2016

    Are they required to learn the content to pass a test or graduate?

    I know it's not really the point of education, but it's a better answer than nothing.

    I am a reading teacher. Although I'm not totally confident, I hope that my kids would answer one of two simple things when asked "why are you learning this?": 1) Because we need to know this to do well on the state tests, or 2) To become better readers. I do try to state those reasons often during my lessons because I think it's a question that admin are supposed to ask students during observations.

    Other answers:
    - to know more about how the world works
    - to be prepared for college
    - to understand how the human body works
    - to understand news and technological advances
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,155

    Dec 2, 2016

    My first (and only somewhat flippant) response is that biology is a gateway drug to science - to the whole range of life science topics, emphatically including virology (why SHOULDN'T we take antibiotics for a cold?) and genetics (why is there such a range of eye colors?), and by way of biomechanics to physics; if I had more time I could push the connections farther.

    Try helping your students develop twistier minds. Share some who'd-have-thought connections between a bit of biology that you're teaching right now and what your students think of as real life. (You can't do this one in a public school, but I used to give science-averse adults an understanding of why friction is not always a bad thing by alluding to its advantages in having sex. In high school, you might possibly get away with exemplifying the Bernoulli effect via a noisy fart.) Then challenge your students to come up with some other examples.
     
    Peregrin5 likes this.
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,002

    Dec 2, 2016

    Great ideas. And I feel like I give my students plenty of "why do we do this" anecdotes and things, but when faced with a question from a random person "why is this particular thing that you're doing right now important, or why do you need to learn this" I feel like they have and will likely almost always answer with "I don't know" or "I'm never going to use this again" regardless of how many times I teach them specific ways that this can be used in the world. And I feel like it's just a part of the attitude from high school students that they don't really care about anything they're learning right now. They're preoccupied with friends, sex, and fights.
     
  14. Rox

    Rox Cohort

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    586
    Likes Received:
    19

    Dec 2, 2016

    -I use my knowledge from Biology in planting my garden now.

    -I am Deaf and did not know until I was an adult that it was genetic. I was able to request testing to find out if my children would be Deaf or if they would be carriers. One of my friends had a child that died to a genetic condition that is common in Ashkenazi Jewish people. Knowledge from Biology classes can help us to know what's going to happen with our genes and our children. It also helps me understand why we seek out mates that are attractive.

    -I learned a lot about how our bodies work and how to keep myself healthy. My son once broke a bone, and my husband knew what kind of foods to feed him to help it heal faster. It also helps me understand what's happening when I become sick and what medications will work and what won't work. It helps to not waste my money on antibiotics that will not get rid of a virus. It also helped me to know what foods I needed and what was happening while I was pregnant.
     
    Peregrin5 likes this.
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,155

    Dec 2, 2016

    Peregrin, do also remember yourself at that age. Was every opinion that came out of your mouth something that you actually subscribed to in your heart of hearts, or did you (like most of us) say at least a few things calculated either to fit in with your perception of the Zeitgeist of peers or to get a rise out of the old fogeys, when in fact your deep opinion was that the thing you were publicly disparaging was actually pretty cool?
     
    Obadiah and dgpiaffeteach like this.
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,002

    Dec 2, 2016

    I know, I know... Lol! But even though I know they might actually find it meaningful and cool even though they don't show it, it is apparently part of our admin observations. So I have to figure out a way to motivate them to share it somehow with admin.
     
  17. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,025
    Likes Received:
    1,614

    Dec 2, 2016

    This is all true, these reasons show the question is flawed, but it doesn't stop administrators from using it as a question to determine teacher effectiveness.

    Our P told us this was one of the things they would be asking students as they went around observing classrooms. However, on my first evaluation, students were not talked to at all.
     
  18. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,657
    Likes Received:
    375

    Dec 3, 2016

    Right because they are never going to freeze or chill food, they are never going to get sick or need to see a doctor, they are never going to need to understand how their child can have blue eyes despite both parents having brown eyes, they are never going to check whether food is ripe or past its best or why it is important to wash your hands after going to the bathroom!
     
    Peregrin5 likes this.
  19. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    841

    Dec 3, 2016

    Examples from a book I've recently read, A Field Guide to Lies, might possibly be integrated into classroom lessons. Today's current propaganda frenzy in various media feeds upon people who do not understand math, science, or history. Another possibility might be to create a pretend propagandized media report and have cooperative groups use their currently learned material to critically evaluate the report. Source: Levitin, Daniel J. A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age. N.Y.: Dutton, 2016
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. rpan,
  2. Backroads,
  3. CaliforniaRPCV
Total: 172 (members: 5, guests: 146, robots: 21)
test