Sunday, October 21, 2012

What I've Learned In...Ecology

My professors keep talking about how a shift in education has begun. Teachers now only teach the material that students need to know to pass their exams, instead of giving them any practical information. There is too much of an emphasis on earning grades rather than knowledge.

Lately I've been trying to think about what I learn in my classes in a broader sense. What's the "big picture" of what I'm learning? How am I going to use this in the future?

Which brings me to the first of this installment: what I've learned in ecology.

  • Bears aren't hibernating anymore! Well, they are, but for shorter amounts of time. They've been slowly migrating to more urban areas, where they have ample food sources from all the garbage they get into. This is why National Parks have bear-proof garbage cans--it really messes up their psyche and hibernation patterns.

  • The current population boom is not happening in the USA--it's happening in pre-industrial societies (such as Africa and rural parts of Asia) where new technology is lowering the rate of infant mortality


  • You want to see something interesting? Check out wikipedia's page on overpopulation. In a nutshell, we don't know when Earth will reach its carrying capacity (when we don't have enough resources to cover everyone on the planet), because there are so many factors and variables that would determine this statistic. 

  • Clown fish and angler fish are the coolest animals ever. Clown fish change their sex during their life. For angler fish, the male is teeny tiny and bites onto the female. She ends up sending out a chemical that dissolves the male until he's only a pack of gonads so she can reproduce. So weird!

I thought ecology would be a pretty dry class going in, but it's actually turned out to be quite interesting. It's always like that--the classes you're not excited for end up being great!



  1. I learned so much from this :) I think it's such a shame that teachers are teaching for exams instead of practical knowledge. And those facts about the clown fish - NEVER knew that!!

  2. This is all so cool! And I definitely know what you mean about "teaching to the test." I did my student teaching in an urban area where not many passed the standardized tests needed for graduation and A LOT of time was spent answering prompts and taking practice tests. This is a refreshing change!

  3. Great information! Does anyone read books anymore? It seems that with so many people turn to the internet and social media and don't take time to learn new things.
    Thank you for the reminder!

  4. I never knew any of this! It's so annoying that teachers only teach for the exam now--I love learning interesting "fun facts" and cool information!

  5. I'm taking an environmental science class and we are learning about bears too haha!

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  7. I'm surprised that exams are in such discordance with "practical knowledge" that teachers are complaining on the newer emphasis. As an English major taking some science classes for general education requirements, I do get annoyed when I have to read a whole text for non-exam material. Maybe for the higher levels of each course should they begin worrying about practical or even esoteric knowledge, rather than testing. But that's just me.

    Angler fish are the quintessential feminists xD


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