When the teacher is ‘Wrong’ and the student is ‘Right’

Last week, I was asked to be an escort on Sinister’s school excursion to a Marine Education Centre.

After laughing long and hard about the idea of ME being a ‘responsible, supervising parent’ – I accepted. I can’t guarantee that I’ll ever be invited again.

Considering how it ended, that appears to be a fair assumption.

Be grateful this photo doesn't come with audio

Be grateful this photo doesn’t come with audio

Don’t get me wrong. The first half of the day was awesome and perfectly in the field of Sinister’s latest focus. His class was taken down to the rock pools to find crabs, star fish, and sea slugs.

Is it wrong that I laughed along with the boys whenever the girls squealed “Ohhhh, that’s so grosssssss!!”?

Damn princesses. World domination will be easy with this generation – just throw a sea slug at them and they’ll drop to their knees, begging you to save them.

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Anywho, morning = success

For the afternoon, they had to go through a little presentation about marine conservation. So this new ‘educator’ takes over and asks the class (7/8 yo) “What do we breathe?”

“Air” calls out one of the kids.

“That’s right! Now, what do fish breathe?”

“Air – they extrapolate it from the water” – yes, this was Sinister. Little scientist after my own heart.

After a brief pause, the ‘educator’ says “well, not really. They breathe water.”

WHAT?!?

Yes. I did speak up at that stage: “Uh, yes really. What he said is correct.”

At which point, Sinister has then pointed out that fish have gills. They suck in water, then ‘filter’ out the oxygen to breathe using their gills to push the water back out. They don’t breathe the water.

The ‘educator’ then says no, they breathe the water – then brushes him off and moves on.

I have spoken up to point out to her again that what he has said is correct and she has chosen to ignore this and continue on.

Now, I am angry about this for two reasons.

  1. He was damn well right. Don’t ever tell a kid they are wrong when they are right. Do you really want to kill their interest? Their desire to learn? Their curiousity to embrace the world around them?
  2. She was clearly “dumbing down” the content based on the kids’ ages. How insulting?!? These kids have been studying marine conservation and marine life for the better part of this year, with a greater understanding than most of the parents that were ‘supervising’. The minute she ‘dumbs down’ the content, she lost all respect (and subsequently interest) from those kids. Inevitably, she lost the opportunity to really make a difference in the studies of these kids, particularly in a field that is not always considered a ‘popular career choice’.

Even the Northeast Fisheries Science Centre agree with Sinister:

Do fish
breathe air?

Yes, but not directly into the lungs as mammals do (except for some tropical fish). (Actually they breathe oxygen not air.) As water passes over a system of extremely fine gill membranes, fish absorb the water’s oxygen content. Gills contain a network of fine blood vessels (capillaries) that take up the oxygen and diffuse it through the membranes. 

Now, I love sending my spawnlings to school. They love going; we fill the gaps at home; and we have a good laugh keeping track of any ‘competitors’ for world domination when they will come of age.

But the idea of ‘educators’ like this one – in roles (albeit small ones) educating the next generation? It is extremely frustrating. Not so much on the incorrect information. More to do with the negative approach taken when they are obviously in a role inappropriate for them.

Yes, I know – not all are like this. I’m sure to hear the argument of “she is probably only one of a small few like that!”

But she is still one. One who had influence over 100 kids that particular day alone.

Now I have to go and read up on marine biology. Apparently Sinister wants to learn more about Lemon Sharks – and quite clearly, there are gaps from the excursion that need to be filled.

One Poison Dart Frog at a Time

This is the point where I cannot believe in the nonsense of Intelligent Design.

Seriously – what super-natural drugs are out there for some all-high deity to think HOT PINK with blue legs is a great colour for a frog?!?

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that not ALL colouring is supposed to be perfectly matched to the environment. And we ARE talking about Poison Dart Frogs here. They have a built in defence mechanism that I am attempting to graft to my current test-subjects minions. At least with evolution, we can theorise that these ‘party-goers’ have survived over the millenium because most of the other smart wildlife has figured out pretty colours = bad mojo.

But otherwise… These are the frogs that Intelligent Design licked.

“Oooh. You taste like Strawberry Sundaes. Let’s make you HOT PINK!!”

Purdy. And poisonous. Highly. Tribes in South America used to dip their arrows and darts into these frogs, and others like them. Apparently, the brighter the colouring, the higher the toxicity. I wonder if that applies to the night-club scene as well…

Unfortunately, all my testing shows the poison is not just from the frogs. In fact, I have to hunt them directly from the wild. Yep – it comes from the food they eat. The ants, the bugs, the plants. All that stuff. Breeding these guys in my lab is simply not going to cut it. The best result I could hope for would be putting EG Dad to sleep – and I’m not so sure if it would be the dart or the movie I made him watch (Of course the Devil Wears Prada – because she can’t get her hands on my Converse Batman sneakers).

Additional problem: damn things are critically endangered. No, not because we keep trying to collect the shiny. More like, we are terrified of the buggers and keep cutting down their jungle. So not only do I have to haul my arse through the Amazon, but I have to keep my eyes peeled for dwindling numbers. At least they are brightly coloured to help me find them – all 2cm of them.

Of course, there is one way to find out how these frogs fit in Intelligent Design. In fact, I would love to see the look on the pastor’s face, when Sinister takes a Poison-Dart Frog to school for (non-)Scripture.

Methinks there might be some frog-lickin’ theories on that one.