Reblogged this on The Burst Signal. This definitely sounds like my husband talking — the scientific researcher in the family, often disillusioned. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. I could help people learn. When I stepped out of the lab and into the classroom during my graduate studies, it turned out that I was a good teacher.
I started graduate school when I was twenty-one, which meant that I was younger than quite a few of my undergraduate students. I liked to talk with them. I admired the journeys that had brought them to college. And I found that I was failing quite a lot of them. I failed the same students who tend to fail out of college science courses all across America.
Students from working-class class backgrounds, like mine, and students who did not grow up speaking English, and students of color. I felt that I was in a privileged position to understand why these students were struggling, because of how much they would talk with me. That was what led me into education research.
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I began to develop inclusive language techniques that helped students learn. My studies looked at how teacher speech changes student speech, and how teachers can best talk to help their students learn. My techniques helped more of my students at Arizona State University pass their introductory classes, get good grades, and excel in their upper-level coursework.
I went on to refine my techniques and my understanding of teacher-student speech interactions at the University of Iowa.
At that point, I had left the bench pretty far behind, but I still thought of myself as an academic. I needed to support my children.
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- Jungle Jim #13.
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Many people find it hard to leave academia. They worked so long and hard to be in academia! What would it mean to their identity if they left? Would they still be a scientist?
The Crooked Path
Could they still be a scientist? I wondered about these things. But it turned out that I used all my skills from graduate school in the context of my non-profit work. I had to design experiments, gather data, and perform analyses. I did academic writing and reviewed for journals. In less than three years, I built a national network for informal, community-based science education. Working with my team, which included volunteers from all over the country, I was able to help to teach tens of thousands of people about topics like climate change.
I worked to give people knowledge that was applicable to their lives, that was respectful, that was useful, and that would help them feel in control of their learning. I felt like I did a great deal of good through that work.
That work helped me to understand things in a new way, too. Which makes sense. Over the past ten years I had gone from spending most of my waking hours alone in a quiet lab to spending almost all of my time talking with people, learning from people, and teaching people. This made me think more and more about how our society makes decisions.
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