27 January 2010

Your glands are on the adventure of their LIVES!!!

In high school, I had a math teacher, Ms. F, who was pretty much pure awesome on a cracker. She was as passionate about math as I was about anime at the time*, and it was almost comical to see her get visibly excited when trying to explain complex higher math theories to a room full of ninth graders, most of whom had no idea that math could get any more difficult than algebra.

Anyway, Ms. F was probably the only teacher who could get away with using teenage jargon** because she was actually only about 5 - 7 years older than we were. The other teachers who tried generally received eye rolls, even when they were trying to be ironic. The only thing worse than that was when they referenced "cool" TV shows, songs, etc., which were usually already outdated by the time the adults heard about them. One of my teachers consistently used MTV as a resource on all things kid-approved and I don't think he ever knew he was mercilessly mocked.

If you are in education, sure, try to make the content relateable to your students. Keep it interesting, but don't try too hard, or else you come out looking like a doofus. And an outdated doofus, at that.

Take the opening to the chapter in my anatomy and physiology textbook on the endocrine system: "You don't have to watch 'CSI' to experience action-packed drama."

... Um ... what? This is a chapter on glands. Glands. The cells in my body aren't going on "dynamic adventures on microscopic levels." It does not make studying more fun by imagining my hormones as tiny Indiana Joneses, boldly crossing invisible neurological bridges to stimulate my pancreas. Granted, I find the endocrine system fascinating in and of itself, anyway, so the extra attempt just comes off as goofy and not particularly inventive. Maybe someone else is drawn in by that intro, but I don't think that anyone entering in the medical field would find the human body boring. Of course, I loathe cytology (the study of cells), but I doubt that an author inserting a reference to "Speed" would make me actually want to read about the Golgi apparatus.

Now, I'm not offering any alternatives to this approach because I don't have a great desire to pen a textbook anytime soon. But when "CSI" is no longer on the air, the authors/publishers are going to have to update this to another "action-packed" show. This just reminds me of when they update period-specific items, like something that was obviously from a certain era and should remain there. Case in point: Babysitter's Club. Apparently, someone is working on updating the series, which just chaps my ass. And "Fame." The scene where the girl pays for an abortion with a credit card was very shocking at the time; now, it's passe, so they have to come up with something equally shocking, and this trend will just continue until someone realizes that, hey, you know, let's let it be.

Blah, this is turning into a rant, and I have to get a few things done before lunch, so tata, friends!

* I never had to actually sign my name on any of my assignments because I used to draw anime-style eyes on them. It got to the point where this was common practice in all of my classes but only she was the one who didn't really care.

** Funny story: for the longest time, Ms. F would say, "My bag" instead of "My bad" whenever she would mess up until someone called her out on it. And she has this crazy northern accent, so it was a very nasally version, which made it all the more entertaining.

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