Now that it is summer time I have the opportunity to sit back and reflect on my courses and how I can make them better. I teach an introductory biology course for non-majors at a small state college (equivalent to a community college in other states). I will be teaching this course during a summer session in July, so I should start there. My students come from a variety of backgrounds and possess a wide range of learning capabilities. The students drive me crazy. I struggle to fully engage them in the course material and to keep them from becoming zombies in the classroom (see this post), but I love teaching this class.
Many of my students are at a turning point in their lives. They are mostly young, right out of high school, but I also have many students that are returning to school after a long hiatus. All of them are there in an attempt to make a better life for themselves. Many are intimidated by science. Others are indifferent, they think it doesn’t apply to them or to their major. They come into the classroom with misconceptions and misunderstandings perpetuated by bad teachers, the internet, and TV, etc. For all of these reasons, I feel like teaching this class it is a great opportunity to really make an impact in the lives of my students.
I recently came across this song by The Afters called “Life is Beautiful”. It made me think about my vocation as a biology teacher at an even deeper level.
Biology is the study of life. Since we are all living things, it is the study of us, how our bodies work, how the world around us works. I stand in awe of the beauty on complexity of life. I want to share that sense of awe with my students. I want them to marvel at how wonderful life is and to recognize that it should not be taken for granted. War, poverty, hatred, bigotry, environmental destruction, these are all things are symptoms of a greater illness. We live in a culture of death that does not value life. So, as I plan out my next semester of Introductory Biology, I am going to use that phrase, “Life is Beautiful” as my theme, my anthem for my course. Perhaps, by doing so I can do my part to throw a little light into the darkness.