NANFA-- Re: nanfa V1 #1471

Dave McNeely (
Thu, 05 Dec 2002 14:46:09 -0600

----- Original Message -----
From: "nanfa" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2002 12:50 PM
Subject: nanfa V1 #1471

> nanfa Thursday, December 5 2002 Volume 01 : Number
> By "as much as they need to know" I am only facing
> reality. Most of the students that I will be teaching
> will not leave the farm. And those that do will
> likely stray only as far as the factories and kaolin
> mines nearby.

This is not much about fishes, and anyone who is not interested should just
skip it.

I have no idea what ambitions, lack of ambitions, background, lack of
background, acceptance of science, rejection of science, abilities, lack of
abilities, or anything else my students come to the classroom with. I do
know that most of them are poor, and I guess that some of them see a college
education as a way out of their poverty. For those for whom that is the
case, their only hope of it working is for me and the other faculty to do as
much as possible to offer them the chance to learn as much as they can. If
a young woman shows up in class, and her father works as a farmhand, her
brother is a clerk at a 7-11, her sister is on the streets, and the last she
knew of her other brother is that he was arrested in Kansas City for selling
dope, I suppose one could predict that she won't get far in life. On the
other hand, as her teacher, I might assume that if she can learn a little
biology (and a little of whatever else she studies), maybe she will get a
little further along than the others did. Since I don't know how much or
how little she needs to know, I try to offer a course that compares
favorably with the same course at other universities, and hope that I don't,
through my lack of vision for her, stifle her chances.

E.O. Wilson, Harvard professor and one of the best known biologists today
grew up in small-town Alabama, the son of a store clerk. Stephen J. Gould's
father was an immigrant who raised his family on what he earned as a garment
worker in Brooklyn. When I was at the University of Texas at Brownsville I
taught many students whose parents, siblings, and sometimes themselves were
migrant farm workers. Some of those students today hold Ph.D.'s, M.D.'s,
and other advanced degrees, and two are university professors. A couple of
them even have careers working with fish. I've known more successful
biologists who came off the farm than from any other setting.

Oh, did I mention that I have six siblings, my parents didn't finish junior
high school, and I lived the first years I remember in one of the roughest
"oil patch" towns in West Texas? But I had a teacher with aquaria in the
classroom, and who let us read anything that was in the school library, even
though the "head teacher" said that certain books were for certain grades

Whoa ......... ! This horse is too high, let me climb down.
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