I’m back to school now, teaching biology as usual. My students are the usual mix–ages range from 17 to 65, surnames from Almadini and Agosto to Palazzi to Zanillo. The diversity extends to their aptitude and their interest as well, since I teach at a community college and we turn no one away, provided they’ve graduated high school or gotten a GED. Some of them are earnest and hard working but lacking any mental spark. Some special few have all three. Others are dull-witted, surly and uninterested.
My own kids are back into the school routine, and they delight in helping me grade assignments. Malcolm, in particular, likes to sneer, “Sorry student!” as he marks an incorrect answer in red pen. Their immersion in my teaching plans and grading meant it was no surprise that they would play Teacher and Students on their own time. I was listening to them the other day, and their exchange is a thought-provoking and insightful look at science that veers perilously close to a Monty Python skit. I will leave you with it.
Malcolm: “Students! Do not touch that fox.”
Simon: “That’s not physics!”
Malcolm: “OK, what is physics then?”
Simon: “It’s if something floats or not.”
Malcolm: “OK, that fox does not float. And don’t touch that pig.”