What does your front door colour say about you?

As the saying goes, first impressions are everything – and this is certainly true of your home. An immaculate front lawn or a freshly painted door makes visitors feel welcome and shows that you take pride in your home. My front door is freshly painted…

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What True Beauty Is About (A Tribute To Maya Angelou)

I have always come across Maya Angelou’s quotes in other books and blogs, or seeing people sharing her quotes on Facebook. They are all very inspiring, but somehow it didn’t get me to the point to read up more about her and her works. As I read the news…

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Daylight Saving Time: History & Fun Facts

Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 9, 2014, at 2:00am. Clocks shift back to Standard Time (ST) Sunday, November 2nd, 2014, at 2:00am. This shift in time moves one hour of daylight from the evening into the morning hours. The History of…

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Severe weather preparedness week: Debunking 10 myths about lightning

The lightning threat in the U.S. is very real and impacts people in every state. Though lightning strikes peak in summer, people are struck year round. In the United States,  an average of 60 people are killed each year  by lightning,…

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20 Motivational Quotes for Kids about Life and Learning!

Quotes for kids! Yes! Short! Simple! Inspirational! Cute! Attention grabbing! Thought Provoking! Kids need to b e equipped with positive self talk just as much as anybody else. As an educator, I would say they need it even more. With children incorporating…

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Graduate School Does Not Prepare Students to Teach Effectively

Graduate School is Great

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed most of my experience while in graduate school working towards my Ph.D. I was paid to fuel my personal curiosities about how bacteria make choices. It was a win-win in my opinion. I was contributing to the overall knowledge of the scientific community and making connections that I never would have dreamed of years before. I could safely say no one on the planet was investigating the same phenomena I was, so I held knowledge only I knew. Pretty amazing feeling. I read some article in Science Careers long ago about advice for graduate students. One nugget was that the student needed to become the expert of their project, not their advisor. I tried to make that my goal and knew I was succeeding when my advisor would ask my advice about observations she was making in the lab.

Graduate School is Good

Don’t get me wrong. Graduate school was not all a field of lilies. It was hard, very hard. Blazing trails and keeping up with all the latest research from around the world about my topic was daunting. Then, there was the preliminary exam (aka qualifying exam); six weeks of taking on an entirely different topic, becoming an expert, devising experiments to answer research questions, writing a full grant proposal, presenting to the department, and defending your ideas for hours is not for the faint of heart. However, the prelim (I had to go through twice) is like being thrown into the ocean as an infant and told to swim the English Channel. If you make it, you are a much better scientist for it. It was HARD, but I don’t regret all the effort it took.

Graduate School is O.K.

Working in the lab can be very time consuming. Many lab bosses expect the grad students to be in the lab 60 to 80 hours a week. I should have been in the lab more, I admit, but I also had a wife and a daughter the last couple years. I had a lot of expectations of me not only as a student and a training scientist but also as a husband and father. Only one of these four expectations was I an expert at after 25 years of schooling. Being spread so thin made each facet that much harder. Needless to say, my wife (and daughter, and in-laws, and parents, and brother, and the rest of the family, and friends, etc.) were very excited when I finally saw the fruits of my indentured labor.

Graduate School is Absolutely Horrible

Don’t get me wrong. I had opportunities to ‘teach’ students during graduate school. I taught a few semesters of lower-level biology lab sections early on. I enjoyed trying to make connections for the students. I remembered when it all came together for me and the light clicked. I wanted that so badly for my students; and much earlier in their academic career.

Now I am out of school with a degree I am very proud of. At what point in graduate school was I supposed to become an expert teacher? Much emphasis is towards shaping an independent scientist who can survive in the jungle, and rightly so. But, what about an emphasis on one of the tenets that come with many job descriptions those fledgling scientists would eventually end up with: instructing? No courses, no seminars. Am I missing something? Is the arena of instructing young minds preparing them for the future jobs we need them to take and excel at not important?

I am very fortunate. I have a faculty position now. I am an expert…but not at what I am expected to do, teach. I am a novice, an infant trying to very quickly consume as much information in teaching strategies and instructing styles that I feel I should have been exposed to in school. Do the science departments and education departments of our colleges and universities know of each other’s existence and absolute need for integration?

I want to be the best instructor ever. I want my students to get it every lecture/class meeting. I want them to appreciate the world around them and make logical decisions. Is that too much to ask? It is for the current state of a majority of graduate schools.