Monday, August 18, 2008

Knowing?

This coming semester, I'll be taking two introductory lab science courses - biology and geology. I got my geology textbook the other day and started reading it right away because

1) I am a dork.
2) I love school and can't wait for it to start.
3) I have a RIDICULOUSLY busy fall, not counting school, and I want to get ahead so that I don't actually get behind.

I barely remember anything that I read, which is pretty normal for me...I have a terrible memory, especially when I am expected to memorize facts. I learn much much more when I experience something or have something tangible to associate it with. For example, I know how the first measurement of the Earth's circumference was made...but I can't remember who made it or when they made it. The reason being that I could relate to the process of measuring shadows finding out angles and multiplying distances by the numbers of angles. But remembering a name, with nothing to relate it to? Nope. Not happening.

For people like me, reading about science can be very frustrating. I know that I have read about the Cambrian critters found in the Burgess Shale, but I can't remember which is which. I can't remember what makes an Arthropod and Arthropod.

For me, it is very important to research why we know the things we know. When I understand how the Sonic Hedgehog gene was discovered, I can remember, rather easily, what it is.

If I had more time, I would start a blog just about the research that backs the knowledge we have.

Speaking of, has anyone read Dinosaurs: The Science Behind the Stories?

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Oh, the irony. I also started reading my geology textbook for a geology/lab class early and I have the same issues connecting memory of 'pure' facts together. It gave me ten kinds of hell in high school and pre-high school history courses since they were essentially about memorizing dates rather than events. I've gotten better about this over time, however, to really overcome it requires some rather tedious studying (e.g. reading the same page of notes over and over and over and OVER again). It's part of the reason I decided to go into geology/paleontology - when you get into the, uh, 'real' stuff, it's pretty hands-on and that helps my memory (my long term memory is GREAT, so if I can retain something for a few days, I'm good).

Ironically, I can remember pointless conversations that people I didn't care about had a couple of years ago in high school. Or even stuff from junior high or below. To the letter. Joy.