I found myself in the ironic position of defending the study of chemistry to my eldest this morning while taking her to school. "Chemistry is stupid!" she proclaimed. No, I protested, chemistry is actually pretty critical -- without chemistry, we have no medicine, no plastics, no lots of stuff that defines our modern society.
But I had to admit that her homework last night was completely incomprehensible to me. Steitho . .. steigo . . geomo . . . I don't even remember what she called it. I just know I never did anything like that in high school chemistry. There was nothing I could do to help her. I haven't felt that incompetent since my disastrous attempt at playing Super Mario Bros on the Wii.
Yes, chemistry is important. We need to learn it. We need more skilled and gifted chemists in our country. But does my non-scientific, writer/artist daughter need to know steitho . . . steigo . . geomo . . . whatever it's called? I don't know.
I want her to be challenged. I want her to be exposed to things that are not her natural bent. I want her to have to push her brain to think in other ways, to try to understand the difficult. I just don't want her to get D's that pull down her GPA when she does her best and it still doesn't click. And I don't want her to end up thinking she's stupid, because she's not.
The analytical educator in me wants to know where the dots aren't connecting here. Is it a matter of requiring something of her that is more than should be required -- a curriculum problem? Is it a teacher who doesn't understand my daughter's thought processes and can't explain her subject matter in a variety of ways to hit her particular mode -- a pedagogical problem? Is it a student who has decided she sucks at science and has given up -- a motivational problem?
Sigh! So much I wish I could change about education these days.