Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Biology 101

Look at this plant in my front porch. 

Check out those crazy long tentacles, twisting and turning in pursuit of sunshine. 

At the ends of the waving arms are gorgeous pink blossoms, bursting forth in their fiery beauty. If they were to touch down and make contact with the soil, they would most certainly produce roots and become self-sufficient plants, soon making babies of their own. 

The parent plant astonishes me as well, in all its silvery grey, geometric glory. How anything so pristine and precise can hold its form after months of real-life wear-and-tear on my busy front step is beyond me. As individual petals are knocked askance here or broken off there, the plant somehow corrects the problem and quickly sends forth a replacement member to smooth over the trouble spot and restore the flawless perfection.

Honestly, this sweet little succulent is just a scientific miracle to me, and I marvel at its majesty every day.  

* * * * *

This evening, I helped one of my algebra students with his science homework. For two and a half hours, we slogged through his biology textbook, searching for the answers to the dreaded Chapter Review questions. He had fallen a bit behind in his assignments, so we faced around 30 formidable questions. Digging up the proper responses was a frustrating and painstaking exercise, and more than once, my student moaned in anguish, "I hate science sooooo much!"

And I thought to myself how utterly tragic it is that the breathtaking, mysterious forces of nature can be reduced to a tiresome, even hateful chore. 

This, my friend, is not how learning should be. 

* * * * *

In my opinion, you can never have too many succulents, and you can never have too many stories about succulents. Here are a few to choose from:

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