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Equally important, however, is the fact that several genera live on these crustaceans, and the structural features necessary to distinguish these genera are fairly easy to observe. Finally, several crustacean characteristics fulfill the essential criteria of ecological niche factors—namely that they vary linearly in some biologically significant way, and that this variation can be expressed in arithmetically increasing numbers. Such crustacean features include antenna, leg, and body segments.

So we simply ask a couple of questions — whether parasites seem to compete with one another and whether parasites select particular infection sites for reasons having nothing to do with competition—then set about to answer them. The crustaceans we use are typically of the species Hyallela azteca, which occur in a variety of habitats.

All the elements of a wonderfully educational exercise in community ecology, quantitative biology, resource utilization, and the relationships between host habitat and parasite richness are present in this system. Students require about thirty minutes to learn the structures and microscopic techniques necessary to identify and quantify both the parasites and their niche spaces in this crustacean-ciliate system. In other words, they could do a PhD dissertation on this system if they could only domesticate it. A few have tried to bring this microscopic zoo into the lab; all have failed.

Field Parasitology quickly became a course in which we seemed to routinely discover problems because what we did generated more questions than answers. In the preceding example, the overriding question remaining at the end of a long day is always: The diversity of suggestions, from people who have all been involved in exactly the same tasks, is, in itself, revealing. As is typical of much original science, there are many different ways a problem can be attacked, and most of the students will succeed only to the extent the problem itself allows, or to the extent the practice matches the question.

The nonrandom distribution of parasites is a first clue that certain demographic classes are more prone to infection than others. Or, we could be studying ecology, albeit of one-celled animals. But throughout the class day, the data gathering, analyzing, and discussing, it becomes increasingly obvious that we have only scratched the surface of a large body of meaningful study. That scratch lets us see into the realm of original research, and our individual contributions at the end let us see the diversity of human approaches to that research.

The protozoans and their crustacean hosts become secondary to the nature of parasitology itself. Eventually I tried to share such a perspective with my students, giving them a list of at least ten options for viewing what was about to happen to them for the next five weeks. These options taken directly from their laboratory manual are: As a course in humility and patience. One of the first lessons we learn is that not all plans involving natural materials are easily carried to completion. Thus we are likely to have some class days that simply are not successful for a variety of reasons.

My hope is that you will be patient with me and with yourselves when this happens, and take the experience as an authentic lesson in biology, as opposed to the often contrived biology lessons you get in city campus labs. You will also discover that joint efforts, involving a number of people from different backgrounds working toward a common goal always always take longer to complete than you think they should.

Again, patience helps when class days get very long. Humility and patience are the first two traits that original science imposes on a human being; without them, you get nowhere trying to do research. As a course in public health. The analytical tools we use in this course are very similar, and in some cases identical, to those used by professional epidemiologists. Indeed, some of the field exercises are very good mimics of tropical medicine research and epidemiological studies. Most medical schools have for years been reducing the amount of parasitology, epidemiology, and public health they teach.

As a course in microecology. We routinely analyze numbers, distributions, and population structures of parasites that occupy small animals such as insects, crustaceans, and fish. These hosts represent small, patchy, and ephemeral habitats that are occupied by even smaller organisms, their parasites.

The factors that determine numbers and distributions of organisms in nature are the subject of ecology.

Ecology can be done on many different scales, most of which are small, thus accessible if only one knows how to use small organisms. Thus we tend to use general ecological principles and techniques, and apply them at a microscopic scale. As a course in biodiversity. By definition, a study of parasitism involves a study of both the host and the parasite, thus two species, and their respective biologies, contribute to the relationship.

The widespread taxonomic distribution of parasitism means that in five weeks a student comes in contact with a very large number of species from several phyla. You will encounter both of these questions hourly in almost any field course, especially one in parasitology 5. As a course in pathology and diagnosis.

Most baffling of all will be those hosts with literally hundreds of parasites, but that seem perfectly healthy, no different in any discernable way, from other hosts of the same species we collect. As a course in invertebrate zoology. Many of the hosts we study, and all of the parasites, are invertebrates. You will constantly be asked to learn anatomy, taxonomy, identification, natural history, and ecology of invertebrates. For example, you may become an expert in the structure of flatworms, but that expertise will be of little direct help when you switch to arthropods.

As a course in the use of the microscope. Field Parasitology will constantly test your ability to use this most basic of biological tools, the microscope. It is to your advantage to develop your instrumentation skills. The link between observation technology and results is something well known to every practicing scientist, but is so rarely encountered by students.

Development of a sense of how to use this instrument will pay off many times during your career. As a course in teaching. Field Parasitology is designed to illustrate general principles through the use of short field exercises. The choice of biological materials is critical to the success of this endeavor. For those of you destined for the teaching profession, this course should help you learn to design studies that rely on easily available biological materials and integrate field work, identification, hypothesis testing, data analysis, and reflection on our collective accomplishments.

As a course in learning to deal with complexity. Parasite life cycles, communities, and invertebrate anatomy can all seem highly complex at first, mainly because the animals we encounter are often exotic and small. I try to help students get through their initial shock by 1 repeating certain experiences until these experiences become familiar ones, and 2 asking that you try, early on, the tasks that seem most difficult and unfamiliar.

As a course in learning to generalize. The widespread distribution of parasitism means that you will see the same general phenomena manifested in several different animal groups at size and numerical scales that vary over an order of magnitude or more. Parasites, rumors, innovations, good and bad ideas, pop-culture items, all move through populations according to the same general principles.

All have varying degrees of infectivity and virulence, and all stimulate different degrees of immunity. By the end of these five weeks, you should be able to see common properties of infectious agents regardless of what these agents might be. Although Field Parasitology began in , by the end of the program year it was obvious that everything we did had most of the characteristics I just described.

Very quickly I decided to try exporting some of the Field Parasitology characteristics back to my large-enrollment introductory biology and zoology classes held in dark auditoriums instead of prairie wetlands. But in order to build an Eden, I had to find a way to make introductory biology and zoology courses something quite different from what either my students or I expected them to be. How did I approach this problem? The answer is deceptively simple: I just looked around, found all the biological materials I encountered every day outside the classroom, then used them.

What were these materials? The answer to this question is also simple. Readily available and useful material included: What was the major problem with this material? It was all out of context. All I had to do was design an activity that was by its very nature educational—that is—it achieved the pedagogical goals regardless of the outcome. The student actually had to do the activity, however, instead of getting information off the Web. Perhaps the most successful of such city campus activities is the set of papers for Biodiversity, beginning with the search for original species descriptions.

A typical first paper assignment reads: Select a single genus of either lichens, Ciliophora Protista , Monogenoidea Ph. Platyhelminthes , Oligochaeta Ph. Annelida , Coleoptera beetles , Lepidoptera butterflies and moths , Hymenoptera bees, ants, wasps , Asteraceae composites , or Rosaceae rose family , and find the original descriptions of five species in that genus. Photocopy these original descriptions for future reference. My best advice is to photocopy the entire paper, not just the pages on which the description is given. If the original description is in a book or monograph, be sure to copy the entire description, the title page of the book, and the ISBN or copyright page.

To what extent are these species descriptions useful in phylogenetic studies of your selected taxon? The subtle but defining element of this assignment is the requirement that a student actually acquire paper copy of five original descriptions of species in the same genus congeners. The scientific journals then become the territory to be explored in addition to the source. Finding these descriptions can be exceedingly difficult, if for no other reason than that a student must learn what an original description is before he or she can start searching for one.

What is revealed about the subject of biodiversity before a student even begins the second part of the assignment—that is—the actual paper? You must decide what you like best among that list of organisms specified. Many original descriptions are in foreign languages, especially French and German. Your library, no matter how wonderful it is, does not have as much literature as you think it has, or need for it to have, and furthermore, that literature may well have been sent to deep storage.

Species descriptions vary significantly in quality and detail. Rarely is an entire organism illustrated. Original descriptions contain little or no information other than structure and comparisons to similar species. The literature cited section of any taxonomic paper is a rich source of material on congeners. The Web is virtually worthless relative to this task. A whole lot of literature contains descriptive information but is not actually original descriptions.

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Electronic databases are a godsend, but they only go back so far, and much taxonomic work has been done during the past hundred years. The list is, however, a virtual prerequisite to an understanding of biological diversity because it reveals so much about the fundamental nature of organismic biology, about the database for this part of science, and about information-retrieval techniques.

Furthermore, the infor-mation-processing skills acquired are easily transferable. All this learning occurs before the actual assignment gets done. In other words, I want to teach a student how to learn. I want a student to learn something about the fundamental properties of scientific literature—the nature of our knowledge about nature. I will make comments on the paper itself, especially if the rationale is either very tight or very sloppy, but in essence, all I care about is that my students go through the process.

At one level we are doing biology, of course; the vocabulary of these five original descriptions are part of the foreign language each student must learn in order to communicate biological information. But at another level, we are doing metabiology. This metamorphosis, from the subject to the metasubject, is not confined to the sciences; any teacher, in any area, could and should carry it off successfully. I know that if a student later decides to do serious research in phylogenetics, then that student will get into the subject far deeper than is possible during a semester-long course entitled Biodiversity.

That student will spend months studying the phylogenetic algorithms, their underlying assumptions, and the software for using them. The data set for any published phylogenetic analysis will be large and complex. When you talk to this student, you will come away from the conversation sensing a significant level of intellectual maturity.

This element is nothing more than an activity that by its very character, that by its doing, teaches transferable skills. The answer became obvious our first summer at Cedar Point, and although it has evolved somewhat over the years, it has never changed fundamentally. To deal with both the opportunities and constraints, while preserving the multiple visions, a student must not necessarily learn parasitology, but instead be a parasitologist.

Being a parasitologist is distinct from doing parasitology; and, of course, the same comment could be made about virtually any discipline. The challenge is to decide what kind of multiple visions are characteristic of a discipline, then build those visions into the course design. This idea is what I have tried to export back to city campus and apply to whatever course I was teaching, whether it was General Biology, Invertebrate Zoology, or Biodiversity.

The task is not so easy to achieve with students in a dimly lighted auditorium, but I honestly believe that the attempt must be made, and that any teacher can come up with at least a few devices that actually work. No matter what the course level, I have never separated laboratory and lecture, at least in my mind, so I tend to ask even introductory students to do some of the things professional biologists do, albeit at their level and within the limits imposed by the large-lecture format.

Unfortunately, the system that I operate under allows me no influence over laboratory in the introductory biology class. We therefore find a problem: They come to a large auditorium to find a date and get credit for a requirement. I come to the same auditorium determined that before the semester is over, most of them will behave just like I behave for at least part of their time.

All I have to do is figure out something to make them play the role of a professional biologist instead of study biology. More important, I have to build that feature into the course design. Before addressing the issue of course design for a large freshman class on city campus, however, I would like to put the field experience into context by revealing the intellectual demands placed on a parasitologist trained in the classical way.

Given the fact that parasitism is the most common way of life on Earth, to become a parasitologist, one must build an almost encyclopedic background of knowledge about diverse organisms. Our specific research interests then are superimposed on this mountain of knowledge, understanding, and exotica. These are the reasons why classically trained parasitologists are among the most broadly educated of biologists. Although I may be opening up a can of academic political worms, this difference probably needs to be explored because our paradigms influence greatly not only what we teach, or try to teach, but also, consequently, the design of our courses.

There are many good illustrations of the conceptual gulf between parasitologists and most other biologists, but one excel lent example involves the infamous Red Queen Hypothesis, also called the Evolutionary Arms Race, an idea that invokes a contest between host and parasite. The logic of this hypothesis is unassailable, at least in human terms. In the Arms Race, the parasite evolves to become more pathogenic while the host evolves more effective defenses, and the relationship then becomes a standoff with each participant changing in response to the other.

Some scientists have made excellent reputations pursuing the Red Queen who is going nowhere! Without delving into the details, however, the biggest problem with the Evolutionary Arms Race is that it completely ignores the ecological factors that most strongly influence the size of many parasite populations—namely—abiotic conditions of transmission, and numbers and movements of hosts. These factors have little to do with either pathogenicity or immunity; instead, they consist mainly of wind, water, temperature, topography, insects, snails, and bad luck. The link between pathology and reproductive output is especially tenuous, becoming even more so when parasitic relationships are analyzed at the level of host population.

The Red Queen demands continuous rounds of adaptation and counteradaptation, and admittedly, this type of evolutionary relationship apparently operates in some cases, especially with microbes. But in nature, most host individuals are infected lightly or not at all, at least with parasites such as worms. Thus parasite genetic diversity is not necessarily displayed against host genetic diversity, and this situation is especially true over succeeding generations.

In fact, the vast and overwhelming number of symbiotic organisms are not pathogenic at all, at least as we define the term. This latter possibility is consistent, but not necessarily in a causal way, with the old adage that a well-adapted parasite is a benign one, a concept that has been attacked heavily by some whose focus is on microbes. In the case of parasites, therefore, the central questions are: Central questions are not unique to parasitology, of course, and certainly must exist for disciplines ranging from art history to Zoroastrianism. In our case, the field experience must be one in which we ask how a particular group of organisms live in nature, where they occur, how they are transmitted, how they may be distinguished from one another, and how many there are.

Ideally, the answers to purely scientific questions such as these should guide course design. This principle of building course designs from the central questions of a discipline should apply to virtually any area whether it is music, history, sociology, economics, or agronomy. The principle involved is easily exportable: At Cedar Point I have three weeks to produce students who think and act like parasitologists. I have complete faith that by acquiring this behavior, students will also become problem-seekers instead of problem-solvers. They will find more questions than they can answer simply because there are so many organisms, so many parasitic relationships yet to be studied seriously.

Thus instead of assuming a paradigm such as The Evolutionary Arms Race, then looking for instances to confirm its validity, we go into the field with a clean mental slate, knowing that if we collect, identify, count, and measure, then we can infer processes. The problems we find are derived from the inferences. Furthermore, the problems are delivered to us in a matrix of context. The daily principle-based exercise.

The shared responsibility for class materials. Acquisition of reverence for dissection instruments as tools of the trade. Acquisition of microscope skills far beyond those of a typical biology major. The daily written assignment. Go-around-the-room formalized discussion, converting the students into teachers. A collection, with data handled as would by done by a museum curator.

A mock exercise in tropical medicine. Daily cleanup and burial if required. Routine informal interaction, e. This kind of list is not exclusive to a single subject and a single course. What activities would a student in an introductory economics class, for example, have to participate in to be an economist rather than learn economics? What might we ask students in a first-year American history class to do so that they could be historians for a semester? I submit that any teacher anywhere in any subject could simply ask: What do I do in order to be a——?

The answer to that question is the list of activities that teacher then plans for his or her students: The tasks in the preceding list are what a student accomplishes, or participates in, during a session at Cedar Point. Obviously, in some cases the items are not really tasks, but simply experiences, albeit ones for which a student must prepare. The list is also a summary of the daily life of a parasitologist.

It may not be completely clear to the nonbiologist what the items in the list actually involve, so they merit some elaboration, especially because in a few pages I will try to address the problem of exporting these experiences back to city campus. Each area of human endeavor has a comparable and surprisingly lengthy list of behaviors.

All we have to do is reflect on what they are, and what they accomplish for us. The most important aspect of our activity is a daily exercise in which we illustrate a principle. First principles in parasitology are easy to demonstrate if one has access to wild animals. What are these principles? They are assertions such as the following: This list could go on for another two or three pages.

More telling, however, the same list that governs the way microscopic worms live in minnows could just as easily have been developed for human beings and for human affairs in general. Statistical analysis is essential for any valid science experience. Statistics is also an area in which one can get into a morass of problems in study design and interpretation. Usually such knowledge is focused on your mistakes, which makes you feel like an absolute fool. My approach to this situation is fairly simple: Give them the tools, make them collect the numbers, ask them to crunch the numbers with their tools, then get out of their way.

So one year I wrote a very simple statistical package, handed it out to my students, showed them how to use it, and got out of their way. Sure, we ended up applying some methods that may have been inappropriate for a professional, such as using standard ttests and ANOVAs analyses of variance on numbers that were not normally distributed. But remember these are people who had never used statistical tools of any kind to test a hypothesis.


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This aspect of the course design simply asks students get in the habit of doing something, then get in the habit of thinking about doing it beforehand. Item 3 , the shared responsibility for class materials, is probably the third most important component of field parasitology. For example, the most stereotypical frat rat usually gets assigned the grease pencil. Because it is a crucial item of equipment, but it could be carried by your pet mouse. When you go to the field, it is vitally important to know which bucket of stuff came from where.

After a few years, a five-gallon bucket may acquire a history of class collections. Then we all go back to the lab to get the grease pencil. I usually assign portable aerators to women; they are more responsible than the men are from the start, and tend not to drop our aerators in the river.

The rest of the list includes white pans, buckets with lids, ice in an ice chest, plastic gallon jars, insect nets, aquatic dip nets, and seines. We carry a lot of things into the field. Whenever we finish collecting, we inventory equipment. The coed who left a white pan on the sandbar half a mile back gets to go back and get it. Usually people forget or temporarily lose things only once. So item 3 is a found problem in the construction of an Edenlike classroom. A fingertip plate is an agar plate petri dish with some nutrient medium.

Each student carefully raises the petri dish lid, make a gentle imprint with his or her fingers on the agar surface, closes the lid, turns the plate upside down, writes his or her name on the bottom, then lets the plate sit for a week. The fingertip plate works beautifully because the resulting bacterial and fungal colonies are very pretty, and diverse, but also a little gross. Both sets of materials have two properties. First, they are produced by students. Second, they are very diverse at the individual level, but exceedingly communal at another level.

We all share a common problem our fingers have bacteria, or how to rhyme [or not rhyme! The fingerprint plate is also one of the most democratic of all biology exercises. Class poems are not so egalitarian; some people are simply better poets than others. Rarely if ever do city campus students possess their own tools, a possible exception being scientific calculators required for some physics and upper-division chemistry classes. In a Field Parasitology course, dissection instruments immediately become highly personal items upon which all success ultimately depends.

I select these tools and the students buy them. I provide the sharpening stones and show them how to sharpen forceps. Then I give them something to dissect that cannot be dissected except through skillful, careful use of sharp tools. Insects 5 mm long are pretty good teaching materials in this regard. After that, my students understand completely the link between being a parasitologist and being skillful with your own personal tools of the trade.

The microscope works beautifully for a biologist, but not until a student starts doing independent research. Studio art and music teachers accomplish this qualitative leap by default and their students know it. The daily practical exam is a direct result of my exposure to George M. Sutton, a renowned ornithologist at the University of Oklahoma. He gave students a quiz every day and counted off a point for every mistake, no matter how minor. He also had a writing assignment due every class day, again counting off a point for every tiny mistake.

I have no idea how he managed to remain so famous and still devote so much time to his teaching, although his classes were always small. Professionals write every day; so must students. At Cedar Point, the daily written assignment 7 quickly evolved into the daily question set see Chapter 7. Setting aside the deep knowledge that comes from experience, and the knowledge that great questions are usually asked in retrospect, I decided simply to start asking my students to write questions instead of answers.

From a class of ninety students in Biodiversity, during a regular semester, would come nearly 12, questions. In my opinion, go-around-the-room 8 is probably the second most innovative teaching device of field parasitology, and one that I often use back on city campus again, see Chapter 7. Go-around-the-room is very simple: The answer is that go-around-the-room is the most democratic and leveling of all discussion formats.

That is, we are shown immediately that nobody has a monopoly on ideas or insight, a rule of intellectual endeavor that my post-doc adviser, Leslie Stauber at Rutgers University, used to repeat constantly. What are these students teaching themselves? What do we talk about in a large lecture section—General Biology or Biodiversity? Anything appropriate to the subject at hand. Some examples from past semesters include: What value is a dirt collection? For what phenomenon could this shell be a metaphor? What species are present in a typical landscape painting?

Why should I actually hold this dead bird up against my cheek? Whether or not you ever believe that go-around-the-room is an effective teaching device, I strongly recommend that you at least try the following exercise. I tried this particular problem as a pop quiz once in an undergraduate honors seminar and have never been able to forget the results. I think about those answers every day, especially when deciding whether or not to try something outrageous in the classroom.

After that experience, of course, the decision to do something outrageous is a no-brainer. In go-around-theroom this quality is achieved by having at least a dozen students in class. After about the third or fourth student has spoken, then the rest of must start thinking harder, and progressively harder, to come up with an original contribution.

In the case of certain writing assignments, the first two or three sentences are easy to produce. Credit is given for a successful attempt, acknowledging that if the teacher has fulfilled his or her part of the bargain, then content will be as varied as humanity, but the struggle to produce it will be common to all truly original work.

Again, I use this design feature, namely that of asking for a product far in excess of what the subject seems to provide, in every course I teach from the beginning to the advanced. The field program provides one opportunity that I have not tried to export to city campus, namely the mock tropical medicine exercise.

What would we have to do to complete this mission? The answer is simple: Find out where the mosquitoes are breeding, which species are present, when and where the most biting occurs, and write a report recommending specific methods of mosquito control. At Cedar Point this task usually takes from 8: Not much, with one exception: When everyone has been working on something unique, and everyone knows it, then a formal opportunity to report the results is pretty easy to provide. Inevitably when I have papers due in a large introductory course, I ask people to read them.

Years ago, five or six students would march to the front of the room, take the podium, and read, just like in a poetry class. I am not afraid to read this paper in front of the class. Then I asked for volunteers. After about five minutes of silence, a senior business major in a level biology class came to the microphone and did an excellent job. Then I asked for questions; in my view, students owe a fellow student presenter some kind of a response.

So I asked them to write three questions on the back of their papers, questions they were afraid to ask. Seventy percent were not afraid, they said, but only one individual would actually do it. All had questions, but none would ask. Something was going on here that made it very difficult to bring this particular instructional technique—the peer teaching that accompanies reading—to a large class. In other words, when you see everyone else struggling constantly, having both success and failure, and talk about the experience all the time informally, then you come to have respect for the very act of original investigation.

MY DAD'S SWIMMING LESSONS!!

This shared experience is not a feature of typical university coursework. Back on campus, most students study by themselves, often in a corner of the library with headphones on, or in their apartments, sometimes in small groups. Incorporating this shared day-to-day struggle with original investigation into a large introductory science course, however, is another found problem in teaching.

The success of any session-ending symposium depends on mutual understanding of the labor involved in, and implied by, the presentations. This sense is a distinct feature of professional scholarship and intellectual labor regardless of the discipline. Few, if any science students, especially those in the introductory courses, know from original experience what it takes to produce scientific discoveries, such as a single arrow on a metabolic diagram.

In my opinion, this difference between art and music on the one hand, and science on the other, also is a rather large found pedagogical problem. The teacher who solves this problem, especially through course design, and very much especially at the secondary and university levels, will have made a major contribution to the lives of teachers and students everywhere. Reflecting on the opportunities and constraints provided by the ideal learning environment of western Nebraska, and on the teaching lessons we got as a result of evading the constraints and seizing the opportunities, it seems like those lessons are not only fundamental and obvious, but also forgotten ones in much of higher education.

I have no broad and carefully designed national survey to back up my impressions, only thirty-six years of classroom experience, thirty-six years of listening to what my colleagues from across the country were doing, thirty-six years of service on faculty committees dealing with coursework and curriculum.

I have yet to hear anyone invoke the principle of course design known as making your students do what I do in order to be and stay a professional———. I honestly believe that this authority figure plus passive audience model, especially in the large enrollment courses at our major universities, is not healthy for either our nation or the institution of personal freedom. How do you give a writing assignment that teaches something you want to teach, especially the transferable skills that are such an essential part of any good university education, yet requires a student to reach beyond his or her perceptions of the world in a meaningful way?

These questions, which are probably the same question just phrased differently, are some of the central pedagogical ones in higher education today, and probably in middle and secondary schools as well. In other words, I saw something happening in the field course, and knew I had to make that same something happen back on city campus. Every student had to generate a product that was both unique and at the same time useless from a practical point of view—for example—a piece of art disguised as science.

The goal, of course, was to teach the art, rather than the technology, of science, to inspire originality instead of always worrying about the execution. The one criterion for these works is probably educational blasphemy: If a student actually does the assignment, then he or she gets full credit. The subject is routinely one about which you could easily generate a short paragraph, such as why such-and-such plant is your personal favorite of all the ones on campus. Obviously the subject itself is a key element of such papers, as is the restriction that students may not mention their own families, money, politics, agriculture, medicine, the military, sex, sports, or religion.

Students usually and predictably produce the first two sentences quickly and easily. That is why I give full credit for a successful attempt. This rather fundamental principle of education often seems to be lost on some of my fellow faculty members, and increasingly so in a multimedia age. I have asked many of my colleagues the simple question: The choice between the two was made only because the writing is magnified enough on the screen so that students can see it from the back of a seat auditorium.

So he writes on the overhead as he explains physiology, conjuring up images of my lefthanded organic chemistry teacher, in the early s, who would start at the left side of a blackboard that reached all the way across the front of a large lecture hall, holding an eraser two feet long. This professor wrote equations and formulas as he talked, filling the board with one hand and erasing with the other.

When he got to the end of the board, he walked back and started over. He did all this at a human pace. Needless to say, my chemistry notebook was pretty full. Pencil and paper return our business to the human pace. Except for golf tournaments and baseball games, television— upon which our children feed several hours a day and that, some pundits claim, is altering our mental state accordingly—rarely proceeds at a human pace.

Unfortunately, there is some evidence that certain features of television stimulate one of our deepest instincts in a way that not only shortens our overall attention span, but also is outright addictive Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi, Music videos generate such stimuli continuously. This is why art is not a frill, but an essential component of education even for a nascent scientist. Art is constant practice at reaching into our most elementary resources—our ideas and perceptions that are the essence of our humanity—and recording these resources using some simple means.

Humans interact with one another across vast stretches of time and space by recording their experiences, permanently, with their own hands, in a medium that does not degrade easily. Art teachers typically watch their students produce drawings; biology teachers assign a paper from the front of a big auditorium, then walk out of class, leaving behind people with easy access to the Web, or to a library, which fewer and fewer of them are learning to appreciate.

More important, I know for a fact that out of any class, at least a few students will thrive on these strange writing assignments and a few will generate brilliantly original works. I also know that this originality will simply leap out at me from the page. So how is this contest with the media to be played?

I suspect there are many answers, but here is mine: Get rid of the media. This goal is behind my policy of not accepting a paper that mentions family, money, health, agriculture, the military, politics, sex, sports, or religion. This condition is written into my syllabus. Thousands of pages, literally thousands, indeed tens of thousands, over the past thirty-six years, that my students have filled with legitimate material having nothing whatsoever to do with those forbidden topics.

These two aspects of my writing assignments, namely, the list of forbidden topics and the individualized subject, no matter how many students are in class, are a direct result of the Cedar Point Field Parasitology experience. Family, money, health, agriculture, the military, politics, sex, sports, and religion are rarely mentioned late at night when we play go-around-theroom, or sit outside the CPBS gate watching stars.

But the fact of this list is also a product of sunrises and sunsets—e. Biologists who work in the field learn very quickly that many events in nature cannot be controlled, and over the years we come to believe that this particular characteristic of our planet is a rather fundamental one. Having come to that conclusion, we inevitably become aware of how naive some of our politicians and businessmen can be, especially regarding natural systems.

Prior to the development of atmospheric science, we probably watched a beauti ful sunset and called it an act of God, thus supernatural. No man could ever produce one on call for his bride to be.

Teaching in Eden: Lessons from Cedar Point

We now know what abiotic factors conspire to produce beautiful sunsets, but that knowledge gives us no more power than the aborigines had over their production. I know it takes a leap of faith to believe that a list of forbidden topics can turn this trick, but if you are a teacher, just try it.

The other element of this exercise in media avoidance, however, is the assignment itself, which I try to make a highly individual one. For example, one of the most effective teaching devices, and one that I use about every three or four years, is: Pick a single plant, growing somewhere on campus, and write three pages of double-spaced typing, telling me why you chose that plant.

There are far more such plants on campus than there are students in any class. Knowing they must write four papers on it, they begin studying it every time they walk past, something they would never do if not encouraged by a pointgenerating option. A typical first assignment is some permutation of the question: Why did you pick this particular plant? Why did you not pick three others? What function did you expect this plant to perform for you personally that the others could not?


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You get the picture. What is the favorite student plant, statistically speaking, on this campus? A staghorn sumac planted at the west end of a building named Andrews Hall is probably the most popular plant on campus, although the actual number of papers about it is fairly small, considering the number that have been written. Why this particular sumac? First, it is a very dramatic plant; I also notice it almost every day, and I make it a point to walk past it, taking one sidewalk choice over another, in order to see it up close, especially in the summer and early fall.

Second, Andrews Hall is an archtypical liberal arts edifice in which all the English courses are taught. Students usually exit this west door in order to get to psychology or math classes in two other buildings, which between them house most of the arts and sciences faculty and their classrooms, walking past or through! The same principle applies to gigantic, curved, sheets of inch-thick steel set at angles into the concrete: One student was so taken with a marijuana plant growing between the railroad tracks near campus that I allowed it to be her subject for the semester.

Fortunately for her, nobody smoked it for nearly four months. And what are other typical paper assignments to be written on the same individual plant selected by a student? They vary, but in one particularly successful semester they were: To write paper 4, they need to be warned that something like this assignment is forthcoming, so that they make some observations, although the act of writing the first three automatically produces many of the needed observations.

Teaching in Eden: Lessons from Cedar Point - John Janovy, Jr. - Google Книги

Keeping in mind that the students given such an assignment are in introductory biology, we might ask how they perform. Some, of course, choose not to do this assignment at all, or any writing assignment for that matter, or even to come to class regularly. Some produce truly brilliant, creative, and insightful compositions; this kind of writing is a true pleasure to read. Needless to say, they have to write this paper over again. Family is among my forbidden topics. But the vast majority of students truly do try to actually study a single plant for a semester.

I envision them returning as financially successful alumni two decades hence, seeing their chosen plant, and experiencing an emotional shock that reaches all the way to their checkbooks. How do I grade these papers? There are only two categories: I circle things that a student would normally be marked off for in other classes e.

As for the feedback, instead of getting told what they did wrong, they get told how to make better grades in other classes. That is, I use their mistakes as a means of giving them advice on what not to do in papers for other courses. What do I learn from reading and marking these papers? I learn what every teacher knows well, but few elected school-board members, senior administrators, and trustees know or want to admit at all—namely—every student is different.

Furthermore, as a group, they are extremely varied. Increasingly we treat them, however, as a homogeneous body of customers. In one diabolically inspired assignment I asked for the three typewritten pages on why their shell was better than the one that their lab partner got.

In another, I asked for five different piece of jewelry to be designed from that one shell, and a statement about what statement the student was making when he or she wore that particular piece of shell jewelry. Obviously I had to relax the constraints a little bit on this one, but not much. The jewelry assignment produced one of the most stunning student papers, and indeed one of the most wonderfully original and even borderline inspirational pieces that I have ever read. What made it inspirational? The sheer joy, rebellious originality, rather extraordinary use of the material, and drive. The writer was also a scholarship athlete on a national championship team.

How many papers have I read? The best estimate is about 30, , which translates into about 90, pages of double-spaced student writing. Here is that paper, written by Billie Jean Winsett Fletcher, and included here with her permission: Although I was once molded into its conservative atmosphere, Dr. Thus I challenged the tradition that summer and demonstrated my new knowledge and appreciation for the animal kingdom. I wore my shell jewelry. I bounced off the plane on Monday to meet my parents.

Immediately their eyes became wide with disgust. Although they blushed with shame as they claimed me as their daughter, I did not feel embarrassed, because Dr. Janovy marveled at the beauty and wonder of unique characteristics. I was beautiful, I was wonderful, for I was unique. I had an exquisite nose ring—a shell nose ring. The nose ring silently rested on the side of my left nostril. It was a beautiful nose ring—a spiraled, light-brown, twocentimeter shell. This piece of jewelry shouted my boldness, my continuing search for authenticity. A scientist is not revered for submitting preconceived principles.

A person is not noticed while living within the boundaries of accepted ideas. I would not be confined. On Tuesday my friends and I celebrated my birthday by dining at an expensive restaurant. Dresses, jackets, and flashy jewelry were flaunted. I also decided to flaunt my wealth, but not my monetary wealth. Rather, I chose to flaunt my wealth of knowledge.

By studying zoology as a foreign language, I absorbed thousands of new vocabulary words. I no longer needed slang, breathless words that fill empty space. I had important scientific matters to discuss. Why were there so few scientists that study sponges? I wanted questions; I wanted discussion; I wanted answers. Meaningless conversation had no place in my educated life.

I refused to be corralled by social fences. I would gallop in my own pasture. Thus, I accented my silk blouse with a green tie that had that little brown shell attached in the center as a tie pin. I would not be conservative. On my third day home, I began to feel the friction that the resistance of old traditions against new realities were producing. It was Wednesday, the day when the beginning of the week mingles with the end of the week, causing anxiety and relief simultaneously.

Wanting to be released from this tension, I turned to nature for counseling. I hurriedly put on my camouflage T-shirt and denim shorts. I flung off my shoes and placed a golden ring on my third toe. Mounted on the top of my gold ring was a sturdy brown shell that stretched from the bottom of my toe to its neighboring joint. I ran barefoot through the forest and to the edge of a stripper pit, for there is freedom in fleeing. The lake was dangerously deep but deeply delightful. As I walked, I referred to each animal by their name—their genus-species name, which I learned in zoology.

Nature is a sanctuary of independent but accepted variations, behaviors, ideas. The toe ring reminded me that if I remained on top of those that want to trample me, I would not be broken, no matter how delicate I might appear. If I remained strong in my convictions, I would not be crushed. I would not be conquered. Thus on Thursday, I decided to wear my life cycle necklace. This was a thin, black leather string that only completed its circle when the brown shell connected the two strings. Humans are in the center of the food chain and life cycle; it encircles us so that we may conveniently reach for any part of the circle.

The animals of the world connect this circle and keep it continuous. Janovy emphatically asked, What are we doing to the planet? With each ecological disaster the human race creates, the shell on the necklace rises an inch toward our neck. Just as the shell on the necklace cannot be moved down, and the effects of human mistakes cannot be erased.

Is this product missing categories? Checkout Your Cart Price. Description Details Customer Reviews Teaching in Eden is about a teacher's rebellion against the paradigms of higher education: The idealism that fuels this rebellion is a direct result of John Janovy's experience at the Cedar Point Biological Station, a place called Camelot, in recognition of its isolated beauty, its special instructional qualities and its vulnerability.

This utterly unique book comes out of Janovy's quarter century of teaching science at Cedar Point. Teaching in Eden is intended to provide teachers of any subject with powerful but virtually free tools that they can use to alter the fundamental nature of any educational experience. With insight and candor, Janovy reminds readers that it is essential to back away from the immediate demands of the teaching profession to discover the elements of an ideal instructional environment. Teaching in Eden guides teachers, parents, and even students in their own discovery and encourages us all to engage in the challenge and simplicity of this innovative educational practice.

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