Monday, June 27, 2011

Do not Touch the Flame

Safety is a concern for most classes. Chemistry students cannot handle dangerous chemicals that can produce toxic products, and flames are unacceptable; biology students have labs that observe pictures and can only dissect a frog that has been sterilized to a point that students cannot see how the body actually functions. Some schools do not have dangerous classes because of potential lawsuits from angered parents. I have observed something different in this program, not only because we use a carcinogen for dyeing purposes.

High School teachers must take account for every student including the trouble-makers who might play with dangerous material. For an example, when I was doing the 9th grade biology frog dissection, I saw students go against the teachers warning and play around with the frog. Some students even tried throwing dismantled limbs at their friends. Then there is the scalpel; fights are known to break out, and if a fight were to enter the biology class when students were dissecting, then there could be a stabbing. Teacher doesn’t want to deal with the chaos of getting everyone’s attention, so the easiest way is to choose labs that don’t require more than common sense.

Instead of telling students that they cannot perform this action because of potential danger, college professors assume students understand the safety procedures—these students have been accepted into a prestigious school, so there is no need to explain to them what they already know. In the Biomedical lab, every student is careful; any small mishap could result in: 1. they could get cancer, 2. they could get sick with an incurable disease and 3. a poisonous solution could flow down the water drain and infect the entire ecosystem. I know what could happen and every little spill is like “I am going to die!” or worse “I am going to kill the person next to me!” Professor Hall knows this too. She says she won’t instruct us until we care about what happens. Every time, we come to her and ask questions—I think it’s working.

I like the freedom of teachers trusting students. I get to explore more and experience an actual lab setting devoid of a teacher reminding me every few minutes, “and don’t forget this...” Once I get back to my High School’s biotechnology class, I must be considerate of the rules: no flames and no dangerous chemicals. So I will enjoy the freedom of being an adult for the next two weeks, and then anticipate until I can be an adult again.

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