Why I am not a teacher

CRW_2114.jpgWhile at school, many of my friends stated they want to become teachers when they grow up. Many of them have (no doubt) become such; I have been led to believe that ‘teacher’ indeed still is one of the most popular choices as a career among children.
What I’ve always wondered was: why I never even thought about becoming a teacher, and actually never thought that teaching would be in any way enjoyable while so many others think so.
Now I know. I just *suck* at it.
I was given the task to teach one of our newest technicians the technique of acute granule cell dissociation, and no matter how I try to be educating and not only giving orders and instructions, I come out lousily. I seem to notice only such mistakes that I would expect myself of doing (even sometimes without a reason), and don’t know where to put the line between suggesting good practises and enforcing my personal habits of doing things. And how it is with correcting measuring mistakes if they occur – I think all the time that if a reasonable person sets the pH to 7.345, she must be aware that it is closer to 7.3 than to 7.4 and must be consciously making assumptions about the measuring accuracy (or lack thereof) of the device. Certainly nobody would think that 7.345 is good enough for 7.4 without such assumptions? If I remark on it, will a shy ‘student’ get depressed or angry at me because I’m thinking she can do anything right? If I write down instructions (put x mg of this and 2x mg of that into bottle), should I explain all the whys or is that frustrating to listen to trivialities?
Nevertheless, my ‘student’ is a most entertaining girl from Hokkaido, with strong background in molecular biology and enough enthusiasm and motivation to feed an army of procrastinators – and, she’s set her mind on teaching me japanese:) The method is almost working; to get the idea bout what we are doing, imagine taking a bowl of risotto that has one black grain of rice in 1000 white ones, and then separating the black ones into an other bowl using strainers and centrifuges. The goal is ultimately to have one single granule cell sitting on top of that previously decribed autopatcher and see what it can do. Today, we learned that using a sieve with a hole diameter of 70 micrometers is not enough to separate 10-micrometer granule cells from the bigger ones. Go us.
By the way: Soc Neurosci has published a short but imho good set of suggestions about how to talk about science to teachers. Even though at least the part where it is said that taking a dripping wet brain to the lecture is a good idea probably does not work as well when talking about, say, history …
I hold good teachers in greater esteem than ever before, and feel sorry for anyone who will suffer the fate of being taught by me… but maybe it wouldn’t be as impossible to keep at least teachers interested in science.
(The telescope in the photo was standing in the entrance hall of the ryokan we stayed at on top of Mt. Mitake. Did not dare to ask if it could have been used – but I bet the views of the skies would’ve been fabulous…)

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