Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When I Grow Up ...

When I was little, I took home extra old books and papers that teachers didn't want anymore.  I would play for hours in my bedroom, walking around the bed "handing out" the papers, then pointing my finger and telling my stuffed animals and dolls the instructions for how the pages should be colored or what the vocabulary words meant.

I thought maybe that meant that I wanted to be a teacher.  Actually, I think it meant that I wanted to tell people what to do.  Now, I do both.

When I left for college my dad gave me some of the best advice anyone has ever given me.  (It's only a little strange that we were both sitting in a hot tub at the time.)  He told me that his highest wish for me was that I would find something that so captured my imagination that I would want to spend the rest of my life learning about it.  Because that is what a career is about.

I found it.  And looking back, the roots were there early on.

I loved rocks.  One of the first books I remember loving was The Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals.  (Second was Harriet the Spy but that doesn't have much to do with me ending up being a Biology Professor.)  There was a gravel path near my house and I would comb the rocks there, wondering if I might find one of the igneous rocks they showed that came from volcanoes.

In Indiana.

So my dad got his wish.  In college, I found that I loved Biology.  I kept taking classes.  What do you do with a Biology degree?  You go to medical school, or you go to graduate school.  At the time I thought I'd be getting married and starting a family, so I opted for graduate school.  More classes.  A dissertation.  (I gloss over the complete hell that it was.  You people don't need to be scarred with the details.)

But I didn't want to be a researcher.

Suddenly, I was highly trained to do something that I didn't want to do.  How did this happen?  How did I get here?

After some (ok, alot of) soul searching, I came to realize ... I Love Science.  I love reading about it and learning about it.  I love talking to other people about it, and hearing them talk about it too.  I just don't love doing it.

So I became a Biology Professor.  I get to read about it and learn about it - science is an ever changing field and I try to keep up on major publications.  I get to talk to other people about it - um, every day in my classes - and I get to hear others talk about it too in seminars and meetings, and even in the hallway.  I can leave the "doing it" to the people who are passionate about making new discoveries, and I can then translate that into a teachable moment.

It's not too far from passing out papers to teddy bears arranged on my bed and explaining the daily assignment.  And it's almost just as fun (on good days.  Again, I am leaving out the scarring details.)

This was a post for Working Mommy Wednesday.  Go see what the other Working Mommys wrote!

And since we always need a photo of the Wee One ... here she is in a wrap during a lecture last fall semester, taken with a student's cell phone.


Julia said...

wow. i'm totally intrigued. i see you're teaching about snyapses and nerves and muscles... that's right up my anat and phys alley!!

ok, so you get to teach with your baby on?? wow. now that is awesome!!

MommieV said...

Unfortunately I don't get to do it all the time. I got seriously nailed by a student in an evaluation about how distracting it was, etc. No one cared (least of all me), but if I'm going for tenure I can't have alot of that venomous commenting in there.

She's too mobile now to sit still - this was when she was more sedate in public.

This was an A&P I class, but I teach II, and a combined class too.

Funky Mama Bird said...

I love that you got to meld your first inklings of being a teacher with your love for science. Best of both worlds!

I used to wear Gunnar when I went on research trips and interviews. I had to stop because people got too distracted by the baby on my back. =)