Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Biology and Brains

I am now in my second 8-week session of online college courses at Grand Canyon University.
My first session classes were Communication Theory and Biology.
Yes, Biology.
You can stop laughing now, although I understand why this would be the first response most of you would have. Just wait 'til I have to take math.

When I was in 8th grade (in the middle part of the last century), Algebra was introduced into our school curriculum. After a few weeks of my struggling in the class, the teacher, Mr. Bradley, took me into the hall and said, "Some girls can't do math or science. Just do your best and I will give you a passing grade." I never had another problem in math or science (literally!), even in high school. Mr. Bradley must have spoken with the science teacher, Mr. Davis, because he let me off easy, too. Or, maybe a note was put into my permanent record!

Yes, I am one of the women who was judged by my gender to be unable to learn math and science. Sadly, I seem to be perpetuating that myth to this day, but these 'modern day' teachers won't give me a break. (Dang it!) When I see my 8-year-old granddaughter struggling with math, it is all I can do to not make excuses for her. To this day, I don't know if my problem really was an inability to comprehend and learn it or if I was just written off and I believed it. Either way, I am still not good at math or science to this day.

The first biology lab required that we grow 12 green bean plants - 3 each under 4 different colored plastic filters for 5 weeks, then write a report. That was a cinch. The labs got progressively more difficult, though. To the point where we had to go by written directions (no visuals), take clay and yarn, put them together in different configurations to explain meiosis, mitosis, genetic traits and how they are passed from generation to generation.

The textbook was even more difficult. Don't get me wrong, I could read the words. It was just that when you put them together, they made no sense whatsoever. "A certain mutation in E. coli makes the lac operator unable to bind the active repressor. How would this affect the cell?"

See what I mean?

Individually, the words aren't that difficult, but in sentences, they are like Greek or Russian or some other equally difficult-to-learn language.

The Communication class was great. I had to write a paper each week and respond to discussion questions on the classroom site. If there is one thing I can do, it is talk - even in writing.

I think I did okay with that class... Turns out the teacher, who lives in Tennessee, is LDS, too. We kind of bonded. When one of the students began 'going off' on Mormons, she stepped in and talked about having "what Mormons call a Quad" on her bookshelf and that "they" use the King James version of the Bible along with their Book of Mormon. Of course, no one but an LDS member would recognize or use the term 'quad' when referring to the scriptures. When I called her on it in a private email, she laughingly confessed. Now that the session is over, we've become friends.

So, now I'm taking New Testament. GCU is a Christian college and religion classes are required. My religion classes from Ricks College (where I attended just after the Beatles broke up) transferred for credit, but they didn't fulfill all the religion requirements at GCU. Instead of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, they use the NIV (New International Version). One of our first assignments is writing a paper about 'John the Baptizer'. This should be interesting... Hehehe...

I am also taking The Arizona Constitution class. The teacher is apparently a stickler for honesty, which isn't a problem for me, but all of her students are required to submit their papers to a plagiarism-checking site when you turn them in to her. So much for the law and being innocent till proven guilty.

A lot has changed since the Jurassic Era...