This week in my Biology class I told my students, as I always do during our natural selection unit, that the goal of living is to live, grow, and reproduce. Biologically, if your genes have gotten into the next generation then you are successful. If an organism is successful but doesn’t impact the next generation then what is the benefit of being successful anyway? Biologically, individuals are not as important as the fitness of the species. Students always find this discouraging at first. Why bother improving if individuals are not important? I tell them that the goal is to make the greatest impact for the greatest amount of individuals so traits must be carried on. Thinking in this way helps us to see the astonishing beauty of life.
This tweet from my friend, Aubrey, really resonated with me this week. Much like my students, I wondered
What is the point of working to hone your craft if you don’t share it outside of your classroom?
Species evolve as a result of random changes in DNA. Individuals can’t evolve because they can’t change their DNA [although we are now finding that sometimes different genes can be active depending on an individual’s environment. This phenomenon is called epigenetics; see linked video if interested].
The teaching profession will evolve as a result of changing practices. Individual teachers must share their experiences widely in order to impact future generations of teachers and learners. Just as an individual is not biologically important to the health of a species, the effort of an individual teacher will only impact the students with direct contact unless they share with a community. Sharing will exponentially increase a teacher’s reach.
As is sit every Sunday writing, sharing, and reflecting, I am looking for ways to increase the number of people from whom I learn. I hope to get my ideas out to a variety of educators who will interact; people who understand that we have to join together in this educational ecosystem in order to have the greatest impact.
I am unmeasurably grateful for the people who are gracious enough to accept me into their community so that I may improve as a result of our mutual contributions.