At the beginning of my senior Biology lesson on Tuesday, two trespassers were occupying chairs at the back of the room. I saw the boys almost immediately and told them to leave. One was intelligent enough to try a cunning trick to fool me into letting them stay: “But Miss! We’re your students!” Thankfully, I often look at and speak to the students in my classes, so I saw through his ploy and insisted that they leave.
The two interlopers left and we proceeded to have a normal lesson…..until five minutes before the bell when a threatening message was inserted under the door:
BIOLOGY ISN’T EVEN A REAL SCIENCE!
YEAR 11 PHYSICS
This made it rather obvious that the infiltrators had been bored physicists, tired of their endless calculations and ready to learn a Science that is readily applicable to everyday life.
Yesterday (Friday), I was given an extra class to teach in lieu of the year 12 students who have left for the year. That extra class was of course the very same year 11 Physics! As soon as I walked into the room, I was told: “Ms. Blue, get out!”. “Biology isn’t a real Science” was also shouted around the room a few times. They began to do some work though, and their self-righteous, misguided and uneducated taunting was giving them some pride in their knowledge of Physics, so I suppose I don’t really mind.
How did this pissing contest between the year 11 Biologists and Physicists start? I have my suspicions…..
There is a gifted and talented boy in that cohort who studies Physics and Chemistry but not Earth Science or Biology, because he deems them pseudosciences. When questioned on his views, he stated that his conception of Science was “A practical application of mathematics to explain natural phenomena.” Thus, in his eyes, there was not enough mathematics in Biology and Earth Science to make them true Sciences. The current Earth teacher and I explained the applications of mathematics in our subjects and agreed that they used different types of mathematics, but that it was still maths, and therefore, by his definition, still Science. I then pointed out that the Scientific Method is a more important determining factor for whether or not something is Science. This boy listened to our viewpoints and was convinced. But it was too late. The joke was there, and his peers were not going to let it go. Their Physics pride was now too high for a mere Biology educator to bring them back to reality.
Any level of interest in Science in Australia is a wonderful thing, especially because of the embarrassment our government has become in relation to advancing the Scientific opportunities of our country. I am more than happy for students to have these little competitions, provided it inspires them to learn more and to take on a Science career in the future. That is, if Science careers are available in the Australian future.
The only irritating and counter-productive aspect to this argument is that most of the students carrying on the joke do not understand the reason for the initial pronouncement of Biology as unscientific. They are parroting something that the “smart kid” said and they have gone against all Scientific principles and accepted it blindly as truth.
………..is this irony? a paradox? Perhaps I should relay the situation to the English staff for an expert opinion………..