“If I could teach him science all day, my job would be easy,” casually commented my son’s first grade teacher during a traditional parent teacher conference. Because we have three children, by the time we arrived at this conference, my husband and I had gone through this ritual about twenty times for our two older daughters. My son’s conferences were always a bit different from my personable, teacher pleasing, daughters. Quite personable himself, my son’s short attention for things that do not interest him, presented challenges for his teachers throughout the years. Most if not all of his teachers enjoyed his company, but many would agree that he did not make their lives easy. Thus, the comments from first grade proved to be prophetic.
Early on, looking for ways to hold my interest as a stay at home mom, we went to many nature centers, science museums, and federally funded local labs. Once my children got into school and our impromptu family fieldtrips were curtailed, our obsessive afterschool television viewing was focused on Wishbone as he explored the classics of literature and Bill Nye the Science Guy for he made science accessible and entertaining. Maybe I was “feeding the monster,” or maybe I was making up for “lost youth,” but I looked forward to Bill Nye as much or more than my children. He piqued my children’s curiosity and fueled my interest in science because back in the olden days, my scant science instruction was relegated to boring lectures and dry readings.
As we all aged and developed our science knowledge, Bill Nye was replaced by the iconic Mythbusters. To this day, we still reference things we learned on this show. But like my children, Mythbusters is moving on. In an infrequent foray into Saturday afternoon channel surfing, I stumbled upon the Mythbusters: Do Try This At Home episode which was part of a marathon preceding the series finale. Of course, I stopped and watched a couple of episodes. As I watched, I remembered the many science based conversations we had and continue to have over the years.
Sitting on the couch, mourning the “passing” of Mythbusters, I ponder the age old question, “Which has a greater influence nature or nurture?” I wonder what that impish little boy’s first grade teacher would say if she could see him know. Nicknamed Mr. Man by his students, my son, in his third year of teaching high school physics and physical science, works to capture the attention of his students because he knows the consequences if he doesn’t.