My thoughts on my biology class.

I loved my sixth grade biology class. Most specifically, I loved my teacher, whose passion for the subject was contagious. On a personal level, he was one of my allies throughout middle school, and I would often visit him at the beginning or the end of the day as he stood outside his classroom. 

And then I didn’t take a biology class for years and years. My high school had “integrated science,” which was really more like ecology – it included biology but only hit the basics here and there. Maybe it was mainly the teachers I had and not just the material, but I was disappointed and didn’t feel engaged with it. I did take chemistry my junior year. I liked my teacher, but I often struggled with the material. I remember that it often took me a while to balance equations.

In college, I remember being interested in taking biology of plants, but I never took it. I took astronomy as my lab class, and psychology fulfilled the rest of my natural science requirements (yes, it fell under that category at my small liberal arts college).

So I was anxious about stepping into a biology classroom again this semester. My class would involve both a lecture and a lab with different professors for each. What if I didn’t have enough of a foundation?

My lecture professor began my life sciences biology class with a cautionary warning: to pass the class, we would need to study extensively. If we were taking several other classes, she would recommend dropping at least one. See, the class, even at the community college level, has a 60% pass rate.

Later in the semester, she would explain that she was telling us because it was the truth, not specifically to scare us. I admit that it was intimidating to hear and I wondered if I was out of my league.

Luckily, I wasn’t. I’m not. Yes, the class is challenging. Yes, the exams are hard: a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and a short essay question (requires a five-sentence answer). My professor is very thorough. She wants us to learn to apply the material and not just memorize it.

She is also, in my opinion, a great professor. She gives great analogies, she uses good visuals, and she’s expressive and personable. 

I’ve been recognizing that I may have pigeonholed myself somewhat in what “type” of person I am in an academic setting. I have always been a good student. I excel at the humanities, languages, and social sciences. I’m creative and love doing art. I was often less interested in and struggled more in math. And science…I think it was mostly that I lost interest. Maybe it was that I didn’t have great teachers for the most part. Maybe it was that other subjects interested me more, or the structure of classes at my college, or a combination of all of the above. But at some point in time, I decided I was not a science person. 

I’m doing well in the class. I’m loving learning the material and feel like I’m filling in gaps where I was missing information. Yes, I study a lot.  The sheer amount of material is challenging. And I’m also getting a lot out of it. So maybe I can be a science person, or maybe I’m a little bit of everything. It doesn’t have to be either/or. I don’t have to redefine myself entirely, just expand my view of myself and my interests to include another subject that I enjoy.  

As the semester approaches its end, I find myself feeling relieved that it’s almost over. I’m certainly looking forward to having more free time and less stress. I’ve also found myself thinking, “I’m going to miss the class so much!”

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