But I Thought I Knew That!

“We are infected by our own misunderstanding of how our own minds work.”
Kevin Kelly

 

Over the last several decades we have learned a lot about teaching and learning.  One of the most critical things with regards to education is the addition of new information to memory. The storage of new information in memory and our understanding of that information is dependent on what we already know. According to Jean Piaget’s Cognitive theory, three critical components of learning depend on preexisting knowledge Equilibrium, Assimilation, and Accommodation.

In Piaget’s modal assimilation occurs when the new information matches a learner’s preexisting views and without changing can be incorporated into their view.  Accommodation happens when new knowledge conflicts with the learner’s preexisting view of the world, in this case, the student’s view must change to incorporate the new knowledge.  Equilibrium is the condition where most new knowledge can be dealt with by the students existing view.

In simpler terms, preexisting knowledge can either help or hinder a student’s learning.  If the preexisting knowledge aligns with the existing knowledge, it helps, when the current information does not align with existing knowledge it hinders.

PriorKnowledge_Combined Files-1

Modified From: Exploring Research-based Principles of Learning and Their Connection to Teaching, Dr. Susan Ambrose

Since no student is a blank slate, they will always have a view based on their own life experiences.  When a student learns something that does not fit their view, either their view must change (accommodation), or the new information is altered to fit their view (incorrect assimilation).

In modern education, we call these incorrect views a misconception.  To overcome misconception so that accommodation can occur students must actively acknowledge their misconceptions.  These misconceptions can be especially impactful in science education where many of the ideas taught can’t be touched or physically observed.

In chemistry, we teach students about atoms and molecules, which are too small to see or feel. In astronomy, we teach students that the earth is orbiting around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour.  However, do we feel that speed on the surface of the planet?

Beyond misconceptions derived from observations, students can also acquire misconceptions from language.  In the field of genetics, a common misconception is: A dominant mutation is the most likely one to be found in the population. This misconception likely comes from the word dominant which has six definitions according to the Marian-Webster dictionary.

Dominant

  1. a: commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others the dominant culture
    b: very important, powerful, or successful a dominant theme a dominant industry the team’s dominant performance
  2. overlooking and commanding from a superior position a dominant hill
  3. of, relating to, or exerting ecological or genetic dominance dominant genes dominant and recessive traits
  4. biology: being the one of a pair of bodily structures that is the more effective or predominant in action dominant eye used her dominant hand
  5. music: the fifth tone of a major or minor scale (see scale entry six sense 2)
  6. a: genetics: a character or factor that exerts genetic dominance (see dominance sense 1b)
    b: ecology: any of one or more kinds of organism (such as a species) in an ecological community that exerts a controlling influence on the environment and thereby largely determines what other kinds of organisms are present dominant conifers
    c: sociology: an individual having a controlling, prevailing, or powerful position in a social hierarchy: a dominant (see dominant entry one sense 1) individual in a social hierarchy

Most of the definitions have to do with importance, power, and control, which is likely why students think a dominant mutation is the most likely one to be found in a population.  However, there is another genetic term for the most common allele in a population, wild-type.  In genetics the term dominant must always be used about something else, for example, the phenotype of the dominant allele B is expressed instead of allele b.

I have always preferred to use the five-terms established by Hermann Muller to classify the specific types of genetic mutations over general terms like dominant and recessive.  Regardless of the words used, the students need to understand that we are discussing mutations that change the function of genes which has nothing to do with a mutation’s frequency in a population.

Another common genetic misconception is that all mutations are harmful.  At the DNA level, a mutation is simply a change to the DNA, a lot of mutations do not affect.  As an example, if a mutation occurred in a coding region, there is a good chance it will not change the final product.  If the mutation occurred in the third position of the alanine codon GCT and became GCC, it would still code for alanine, in fact, all four GCx codons GCT, GCC, GCA, and GCG code for alanine. That means any change in the third position of this triplet will not affect the protein formed. There are a lot of other misconceptions in genetics, but that is a discussion for another day.

When it comes to helping students deal with their misconceptions, it can help to try and understand where the misconceptions came from, and what might be influencing them.  As a faculty member once said, “If you want to understand what a student is thinking, ask them.”  If a student does not comprehend new information, it might be because of previous notions.  Learning what the student’s assumptions are and how the assumptions are interfering with the students learning will only make you a better teacher.

 

Thanks for Listening To my Musings

The Teaching Cyborg

It’s All in the Primes

“The greatest single achievement of nature to date was surely the invention of the molecule DNA.”
Lewis Thomas

 

When you’re an undergraduate student, two words mean a lot to you prerequisite and corequisite.  These two words let you know whether you must take courses one after the other or at the same time.  Ever since my undergraduate days, I have found these terms to be fascinating.  As a student, I often thought of the words differently.  Prerequisite meant we believe you need this information to understand our class, while corequisite indicated this information might be useful, but we don’t care.

That may seem a bit harsh, but that is the way it seemed to me when I was an undergraduate, and to be honest, it still seems that way to me. My experience for the first couple of years as a biology major was a little different than several of my classmates.  As a high school student, I had been fortunate enough to attend a school with a robust Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) program, because of this I tested out of first-year biology and chemistry.  Then in a fit of madness, I took a full years’ worth of organic chemistry with labs over the summer.

Biology students would take organic chemistry the same time the would take the second year introductory biology courses, i.e., corequisite.  The first biology class I took was Molecular Biology, one day we were sitting in class, and the professor was talking about DNA replication.  If you know anything about DNA you know, the terms 5’ and 3’ (also written 5 prime and 3 prime) get used a lot.  DNA is composed of two directional strands if one strand is 5’ to 3’ left to right the other strand will be 3’ to 5’ left to right.  DNA replication is carried out by DNA Polymerase III which synthesizes new DNA from 5’ to 3’.  I could go on, but that should make the idea clear enough.

DNA replication or DNA synthesis is the process of copying a double-stranded DNA molecule. This process is paramount to all life as we know it.
DNA Replication Image by Mariana Ruiz

One day my classmate turned to me and said, “I don’t understand anything he’s talking about what the hell does all this 5’ and 3’ stuff mean.” It took me a second to figure out what my classmate was saying the terms had been obvious to me.  I told him the names came from organic chemistry; they are referencing the 3rd and 5th carbon on the deoxyribose ring. Specifically, the 5’ carbon on one nucleic acid binds to the 3’ carbon on another forming the DNA backbone. Didn’t they cover numbering carbons in your organic chemistry course I asked, it turns out they had not gotten to that yet?

Many times during my undergraduate education corequisite courses did not cover material before it was needed.  It was this tendency of separate classes not to line up that lead me to start thinking of corequisite courses as “we really don’t care.”  As a student, I usually assumed corequisite courses would be no help in a class I was taking.

As a professional, I understand the constraints that impact educational choices.  Ideally, we are trying to fit all the courses needed for a degree in four years, that is four years minus summers.  I suspect if we made every corequisite a prerequisite we would not fit all the courses into a four-year program.  Interestingly according to the Marian Webster’s dictionary, the first known use of corequisite as we use it in education was circa 1948.  The fact that corequisite didn’t exist until 1948 suggests to me that we used to fit all the courses into a four-year degree without corequisites, I wonder what changed? I would assume this has to do with the growth in the amount of material covered in a Bachler’s program while maintaining the time to degree.

The other impact on the usability of corequisite courses is that they are taught by different faculty sometimes in other departments.  We hire faculty because of their experts in a field, to take full advantage of this expertise faculty are given the freedom to design and teach subject matter in the method they determine is best.  I wonder if schools are doing enough to promote communication between faculty members that teach courses related by corequisites.

Then again is a corequisite essential enough for a faculty member to change how they teach their course?  When thinking about curriculum design and degrees, I often think where is the line between the needs of the degree and the design freedom of a faculty member, is there a line? With the constant changes in many if not most fields and the growing amount of knowledge we must teach, we must rely on the experts in the field to keep the content of individual courses relevant.  With the continual work to keep course content relevant is it even possible to create a completely unified curriculum?

It may be that corequisite is the best we can do with respects to a degree’s curriculum.  However, I do know that anytime I deal with the curriculum of either a single course or a whole degree, I always remember “about what the hell does all this 5’ and 3’ stuff mean.”

 

Thanks for Listing To my Musings

The Teaching Cyborg

You Don’t Own Critical Thinking

“I don’t want people to say, “something is true because Tyson says it is true.” That’s not critical thinking.”
Neil Degrasse Tyson

The Pink Panther movies are ridiculously hilarious. I’m not talking about the Steve Martin films but the original Peter Sellers movies. One of the great stories in these movies is the interactions between Peter Sellers Inspector Jacques Clouseau and Herbert lams Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus. Their interactions are funnier because Clouseau doesn’t understand how much Dreyfus hates him.

“Dreyfus: The beggar was the lookout man for the gang.
Clouseau: That is impossible. How can a blind man be a lookout?
Dreyfus: [Insinuating Clouseau] How can an idiot be a police officer?
Clouseau: Well, all he has to do is enlist…
Dreyfus: Shut up!”
The Return of the Pink Panther – 1975

Over the course of several films, the interactions with inspector Clouseau slowly drives Dreyfus insane. A twitch in his eye foreshadows his descent into madness.

Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus Eye Twitch The Return of the Pink Panther 1975
Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus Eye Twitch The Return of the Pink Panther 1975

Lately, the term critical thinking is starting to do drive me a little crazy. It seems once, or twice a week I see or read another article bemoaning the loss of some form of education, liberal arts, social sciences, arts, or a type of degree english, history, foreign language, etc. Many of these articles suggest that without the their “stick” we will lose critical thinking. There was an article the other day that argued we should be getting degrees in the humanities and the reason, in the humanities we learn to communicate (speak), to work in teams, and here my eye twitch twitch critical thinking.

In another article, they argued why it was wrong to pursue degrees in computer science and programming and instead we should be getting degrees in the social sciences because they learn communication skills, problem-solving a couple of other things and twitch twitch critical thinking.

In a third article, the argument was to learn emotional intelligence and big data analysis we needed social sciences and anthropology. Furthermore, these skills in emotional intelligence and big data were needed to learn twitch twitch ” And then… I will kill you! Kill you!” (Charles Dreyfus The Pink Panther Strikes Again 1976) critical thinking.

Article after article all seeming to claim that without their field we will lose critical thinking. The idea that critical thinking is dependent on any one field is frankly ridiculous. The truth of the matter is that any field and any education can teach critical thinking.

Learning to design and write computer software is an enterprise in critical thinking pick up a book on program architecture. Learning to write a story especially something like a novel (creative writing degree) requires critical thinking. Learning to design research experiments in any of the science fields is the definition of critical thinking. Constructing logical arguments, supporting or contradicting a point in philosophy is critical making.

I could continue with examples in fields of study until I ran out of fields because like I said no single field or type of study owns critical thinking. Arguing that your field is needed for critical thinking probably does more harm than good by alienating everyone else that you just said couldn’t teach critical thinking.

While we all (hopefully) agree that critical thinking is important and the stories of schools cutting critical thinking are quite troubling, we should be all working together to make sure critical thinking is supported and taught regardless of what the student studies.

As to arguments concerning declining enrollments in many fields and types of education the solution is not to try to lay claim to things that belong to everyone. You’re also not going to solve the problem by trying to force an individual into programs with claims of fundamental importance if it isn’t true. Even if it’s true, the real problem is the students are not engaging or interacting the same way as they were before.

If we want to reverse these trends, we need to figure out why the students are not interested. Then engage the students, the argument that I’m a professor, and I understand all this information, and you should believe me isn’t going to work. To get the students into the classroom, we need to answer their questions and concerns honestly, and directly. We need to remember that their concerns while different than ours, are completely legitimate to the students and treating them any other way than respectfully will not help the situation.

Academics have a huge amount of knowledge and skill. However, we need to remember that outside our fields and academia your audiences have probably not read that paper that “everyone” knows. Take some time and instead of saying “like we all know” spend some time explaining the information, after all, if you want more students the people you need to convince probably don’t know what you know.
Thanks for Listening to My Musings

The Teaching Cyborg

Re-Envisioning the Ph.D. +13 Years

“Education is not the learning of facts; it’s rather the training of the mind to think.”
Albert Einstein

 

13 years ago, this month, the Woodrow Wilson foundation released the report THE RESPONSIVE PH.D. Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education. The responses Ph.D. project was an attempt to test and evaluate programs that addressed “issues” with the Ph.D. The work revolves around four principles:

Principle one: a graduate school for real
The first principle of Woodrow Wilson’s initiative on the doctoral degree may appear at first bizarre or tautological. Every gripe, every conclusion from all the reports and our attempts to turn the reports into action prove one thing: the Ph.D. degree requires strong graduate schools and graduate deans with real budgets and real scope—a far stronger central administrative structure than typically exists at present.
THE RESPONSIVE PH.D. Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education Page #6.

Principle two: a cosmopolitan doctorate
The second principle is a sibling to the first. Just as individual programs need to be connected more to each other in the shared experience of a strengthened graduate school, the doctorate in totality and every discipline will benefit enormously by a continuing interchange with the worlds beyond academia. The doctorate needs to be opened to the world and to engage in social challenges more generously. A responsive Ph.D. has implications for degree requirements, for the right administration of programs, for time to degree and the job search, and for improving the diversity of the Ph.D. cohort.
THE RESPONSIVE PH.D. Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education Page #7.

Principle three: drawn from the breadth of the populace
Clearly, an expertise gap besets the United States. The Ph.D. cohort, source of the nation’s college and university faculty, is not changing quickly enough to reflect the diversity of the nation. The next generation of college students will include dramatically more students of color, but their teachers will remain overwhelmingly white.
THE RESPONSIVE PH.D. Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education Page #9.

Principle four: an assessed excellence
The doctoral degree stakes a strong claim upon quality. Whatever the degree variously means, it guarantees that. And yet doctoral education, keen to interpret all phenomena expertly, almost entirely fails to interpret and evaluate itself. The quality of doctoral education depends upon assessment with reasonable consequences. Excellence is a receding horizon. Progress toward it is measured by 9 THE RESPONSIVE PH.D. the degree of success in achieving concrete objectives—objectives that can be redefined as circumstances require. Attainment of specific objectives can be rewarded through commensurate increases in valued resources. Numerous participants in the Responsive Ph.D. have established robust programs for connecting resources to outcomes in this way.
THE RESPONSIVE PH.D. Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education Page #10-11.

My interest in this report has to do with The University of Colorado Boulder’s involvement with the project. Four years before the report was published seven graduate students at the University of Colorado Boulder were asked to provide feedback on several questions to the graduate school advisory council that was working with responsive Ph.D. project.

I was one of those graduate students. I’m also a bit of a pack rat, just recently I ran across my notes from this committee. I thought it might be interesting to look back and see how my thoughts have changed. The group of graduate students was asked several questions specifically what we thought about; Research, Teaching and the Responsive Ph.D., Interdisciplinary, Teaching and the Ph.D. Path, Mentoring and Advising, Scholarly Citizenship, and Time-to-Degree.

A lot of the questions concerning the Ph.D. and whether the degree was meeting current needs revolved around two points. One) most Ph.D.’s will not pursue careers exactly like their faculty advisers, they may even have different interests. The focus of research to the exclusion of all else limits the possible uses of the degree. While research should remain the focus, additional opportunities should be available to the students. Two) there are many underrepresented groups in Ph.D. graduates compared to the general population. Do specific aspects or approaches to the degree that limit the access of these groups?

What follows is excerpts from the graduate student presentations to the graduate advisory council. These presentations were created and assembled by the entire committee composed of graduate students from seven different colleges at the university

Research, Teaching and the Responsive PhD
Students often wish for a field of study that sharpens their research skills. However, many students would also like to develop complementary skills such as teaching. Many students report that their departments do not encourage development in teaching. The committee feels a paradigm shift is needed that recognizes both research and teaching as important components of the Ph.D. process.

Interdisciplinarity
Training opportunities should be available for interdisciplinary work. As a grad student, we had very little idea “research wise” what was going on in other departments and colleges. Additionally, it was often hard to take courses outside of our department. We also feel that graduating with a broad and diverse knowledge base would enhance our employ-ability both in and outside of academia. Schools should develop programs to encourage interdisciplinarity in graduate students.

Teaching and the Ph.D. Path
Since many academically employed Ph.D.s do not end up employed in R1 universities but other school and universities with a higher focus on teaching we feel that many Ph.D.s are being under-trained. Since most Ph.D.s come from R1 institutions these institutions, need to give more training to develop students teaching skills.

Mentoring and Advising
The current structure of the Ph.D. programs often limits the knowledge and advising available to students. Since advisers often only know about their careers. Especially in the STEM fields, a second adviser would be helpful.

Scholarly Citizenship
Many schools talk about citizenship and the importance of citizenship. Many projects occur but are often self-established by individuals. What could universities or graduate schools do to encourage and teach us how to establish projects around scholarly citizenship?

Time-to-Degree
One of the biggest concerns presented is time-to-degree. How do we include all the things we listed while shortening or at least maintaining the time-to-degree? The easiest way to do this is to focus on the requirements or skills that are necessary for the degree and to remove as much of the extraneous work as possible.

These short excerpts summarize what the graduate students (the seven on the committee) thought about the questions. After rereading the final documents, I’m not sure that our input had any impact on the final report. Conversely, the project included 20 schools, and I don’t know how many of the schools involved graduate students so we may have represented a very small part of the project.

The bulk of the report was composed of “white papers” about the programs that addressed the issues that the report brought up. A question I had was how many of these programs are still functioning? Conducting a quick web search, I was able to find current program information on 27 of the 41 programs, which means 66% of the programs are still functioning. 66% is quite good for universities where programs often vanish after grants or projects are over.

Let’s go back to the questions if I was asked these questions today how I would respond?

Research, Teaching and the Responsive Ph.D.
It is true still true that most Ph.D. students will not end up in careers like their advisers, especially if they’re getting their degrees from R1 institutions. However, the Ph.D. is a research degree. The central core of the degree should be and stay research. The only thing I would like to see would be more teacher training since the Ph.D. is also a teaching degree.

Interdisciplinarity
There’s always been a tremendous interest in interdisciplinary because of how interdisciplinary teams have solved problems. However, actively trying to create or force interdisciplinary does not work. The only thing I will say is that a student should be able to take any class or collaborate with any group that makes sense for their research. Departments shouldn’t limit their students to only what is available within their department.

Teaching and the Ph.D. path
As I said before if we’re going to call a Ph.D. degree a teaching degree, then we should include teaching as part of the curriculum.

Mentoring and Advising
Mentoring and advising are a critically important part of graduate education. Mentoring can impact everything from how you deal with imposter syndrome to what career path you take. Schools and departments should encourage students to talk and interact with as many people as possible. The Ph.D. is a research degree you should choose your adviser for their research abilities. If you get more out of a relationship with your primary adviser that is great. However, your research adviser should be chosen predominantly for their ability to help you get through your research.

Scholarly Citizenship
The purpose of the Ph.D. is to learn a skill set involving research and problem-solving. These skills are tremendously useful in many fields, and careers, how graduates choose to use them when they graduate should be entirely up to the graduates. However, if you want to be involved in citizenship (or community service) as part of your degree and you should choose a school or program that is already doing this type of work. I feel trying to force faculty to include “citizenship” in the research is directly contradictory to academic freedom. If we choose to believe in academic freedom, faculty must have the right to choose or not choose to do something.

Time-to-Degree
Time-to-degree comes up more than just about any other problem, people still discuss it regularly. I think this is probably a more complex issue than it seems. The biggest advantage of shortening the time-to-degree is a reduction in costs, which is, a very important consideration. The drawback is the amount of knowledge there is to learn nowadays. On top of the amount to learn we are living and working longer. With this increase in knowledge, we are starting to see more and more specializations in degrees at the bachelor’s level which I find sad. Personally, if there is a way to deal with the cost I would almost wish we gave the students more time to learn their field and all it has to offer.

13 years on I think the whole idea of re-envisioning the Ph.D. was ridiculous. While it is true that we did and still do have issues with diversity in advanced degrees the solution is not to change degrees but to engage and support the underrepresented. Also, if the Ph.D. is not suited to a job or career path again, the solution is not to change the degree. The Ph.D. is perfectly suited to its uses. If something different is needed, we should create a different degree not change one that already works. For the time being, I think I will close the door on the re-envisioned Ph.D., maybe ask me again in 15 years.

 

Thanks for Listening to my Musings

The Teaching Cyborg

The Gardeners Keep Changing My Tree of Life

“You’ll be tempted to grouse about the instability of taxonomy: but stability occurs only where people stop thinking and stop working.”

Donald P. Abbott

 

My Ph.D. is in biology regardless of everything else I’ve learned or what my current job is I generally think of myself as a biologist. A lot of what biologists do involve using model systems or organisms. A model organism is an organism that has some trait or benefit that makes it particularly useful to answer certain types of scientific questions. For instance, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster produces large numbers of offspring and can easily be stored in small spaces making it an excellent system for genetics.  The Zebrafish Danio rerio is a vertebrate that develops from eggs and has transparent embryos making it an excellent model system for vertebrate organ development.  The information learned from model systems improves understanding of other organisms and biology in general.

The application of knowledge from one organism to another works because of the relatedness of all living things. Taxonomies are used to understand the relatedness of organisms. Taxonomies name “scientific name,” organize, and define an organism’s relationship to everything else. The full scientific name of an organism contains 8 or 9 names depending on whether you are using a Domain (Bactria, Archaea, and Eukaryotic) hierarchy. When using taxonomies to determine relatedness the more names, two organisms share, the closer they are on the tree.

I must admit as a student I found taxonomies rather dull. I’ve never really enjoyed topics that seem to be taught exclusively by memorization and regurgitation. One of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had with taxonomies occurred in the research lab, not in the classroom.

As an undergraduate, I researched the zebrafish, a small freshwater fish that is used extensively in developmental and toxicology research.

Zebrafish Image source Wikimedia Commons Author Azul
Zebrafish Image source Wikimedia Commons Author Azul

When I first started to start working on zebrafish their scientific name was Brachydanio rerio.  Shortly after I started working with them, it was proposed and approved that the name change from Brachydanio rerio to Danio rerio, or to list their full name

  • Kingdom: Animalia
    • Phylum: Chordata
      • Class: Actinopterygii
        • Order: Cypriniformes
          • Family: Cyprinidae
            • Subfamily: Danioninae
              • Genus: Danio
                • Species: rerio

Changing things like scientific names can confuse people, how can scientific information change? There are lots of different types of scientific knowledge, and generally, only scientific facts and laws are immune to change.

In science, as we learn new information, we change our interpretations to account for that new information, just ask Pluto. One of the things that have changed a lot in Biology is the tree of life (taxonomies) or how we understand the relatedness of life. When I was in high school, we learned that all life fit into five kingdoms; monera, protista, fungi, plantae, and animalia. Then the tree of life looked like this.

Tree of life showing the 5 Kingdoms Model. Image is based on Biology The science of life volume 3.
Tree of life showing the 5 Kingdoms Model. Image is based on Biology The science of life volume 3.

At this time almost all the classifications were based on physical traits. By the time I was in my undergraduate education, this began to change thanks to the work done by Carl Woese, who used DNA sequences to organize life, his tree looks like this.

Tree of life based on Carl Woese's genetic Analysis. Image source Wikimedia commons By Eric Gaba
Tree of life based on Carl Woese’s genetic Analysis. Image source Wikimedia commons By Eric Gaba

This process continues to change with additional trees and models put forth regularly.

The problem I currently have is on the educational side. I was reading a current intro biology textbook, the tree used in the book looks a lot like Carl Woese’s tree.  However, in the layout of their book they use a word, it’s all over the textbook. The word is prokaryote it is used to classify all single-cell organisms that don’t have membrane-bound nucleus Pro = “before” Kary = “nucleus.”

I hate the word prokaryote as a means of classification from my point of view it is less than useless. I think it can be damaging. In the current textbook, bacteria and archaea are grouped as prokaryotes, because they are both single-cell organisms that lack membrane-bound nuclei. However, that is about where the similarities end. Bacteria and archaea use different chemistries for their cell walls and plasma membranes. They package their DNA differently some archaea even having histones like eukaryotes. Currently, we believe archaea are more closely related to eukaryotes than bacteria. Categorizing bacteria and archaea together under a single term suggests an evolutionary closeness that is not there.

After all, if we look at the full names of several single-celled organisms

Table show the full scientific name of three single celled organisms.
Table show the full scientific name of three single celled organisms.

the word prokaryote does not appear anywhere in the scientific names.

When we are teaching students, it is essential that we don’t unintentionally introduce miss-conceptions.  We should be teaching bacteria and archaea as the distinct groups they are. They should have independent sections in textbooks.  The terms we use in education must have real meaning, and it turns out for a process of taxonomic relatedness lacking a membrane-bound nucleus should not mean things are classified together. When we teach science, when we write about science (textbooks), we need to make sure our language has meaning. We need to stop using groupings and classifications because they are convenient, it gives false impressions about relatedness.  Let’s all get together and kill the term prokaryote and make it easier for students to understand how organisms are related.

 

Thanks for Listening to My Musings

The Teaching Cyborg