I sat outside this morning drinking coffee and watching a bumblebee flop its way through a camellia, hunting for nectar. With each foray, her hairy body was saturated with pollen to be distributed to the next flower. All of the plant's energy had gone into a gamble that an insect would visit and take some of the pollen and donate some to another lucky flower.

It's not a camellia, but that's okay.

Flickr CC, Express Monorail

The Indiana state biology standards do not have a place for pollination, or even basic plant and animal anatomy, unless you count identifying the differences between their cells, and even that has significant room for improvement. Kids do not care about the differences in the cells unless they can see how it makes a difference in their world.

Without bees, there would be no new flowers each season. Without the flowers, bees would not have a source of nutrition. Cells, when added up, make a difference.

Every day spent with students is an opportunity to question, observe, debate, explain, and create. Unfortunately, we are under the impression that our hands are tied. I chose to believe in standards, rather than observation and questioning, and I regret the opportunities I missed with my students.

Does the bee realize the opportunity it is providing each flower with each stop? I'm not sure, but it doesn't matter. Be aware of the moment and let learning opportunities happen. Do what is right for your kids and the rest will sort itself out.

6 thoughts on “Opportunities

  1. Audrey says:

    Are bees still dying off? I think Einstein once said that if all bees were to die, humans would have at most 4 years left before all food would run out. Put that in your standards, Indiana!

    • Brian Bennett says:

      I don’t know if they are or not…I don’t think it is as bad as the big disappearance a few years back. But yeah, it would not be good. I remember seeing some study about the efficiency bees pollinate with, and that artificial pollination couldn’t even come close.

  2. This is an amazing post. Your first paragraph is poetry, the rest is an inspiring challenge to all educators. I hope you’ll bring more scientific insights and descriptions into your blogs. This is the way I like to learn science–through poetry. Thanks.

    • Brian Bennett says:

      Thanks, Maureen. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It was definitely a stretch for my writing skills, but I enjoyed it. I’ll try to bring more into future posts.

  3. […] is always 20/20 and is an educator’s curse. I try not to think about missed opportunities with students, but they stay fresh. I’ve learnt to be aware of danger and more receptive to […]

  4. […] Making the abstract concrete through modeling and analyzing the building blocks helps students see biology as something to be experienced rather than memorized is a big task, but it’s an important […]

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