Forgetting the Krebs Cycle

The product of a google image search of "Monkey Cycle".
I'm in the process of applying to teach a science class, and one of the requirements is to craft a teaching philosophy.  Of course, being so gung-ho about metacognition, my philosophy focused on how I will try to help my students develop transferable skills that could be useful in any endeavor: creativity, communication, synthesis of new ideas, etc.

Naturally, my thoughts then drifted to the Krebs Cycle and how angry it makes me.

What is the Krebs Cycle and why does it make me angry?  Well, unless you are biologist or chemist working on energy metabolism, the Krebs Cycle is not something you need to worry about.  And, that's why it make me angry.  Because I was forced to memorize all the steps of the Krebs Cycle in high school.

Why did that happen?  Why are students all around the country being forced to memorize the details of a chemical reaction that has little relevance to their daily lives?  I'm sure proponents would suggest that it somehow "trains" students to be able to memorize things, but even as a practicing scientist I rarely need to remember some arcane detail to do my job.  Instead, I need to know where to look for an important detail.  Or, I need to have a general sense of how something works in order to make predictions about the system.

Instead, can't we have students memorize things that are more relevant?  Human nutrition, for example, or exercise physiology.  I'm confident most Americans would benefit from a little more knowledge about how to exercise and eat right.  I digress.

Or, better yet, let's get away from this whole memorization thing entirely.  Let's focus on the skills that will help the most people be awesome in the most settings: transferable metacognitive skills.  No more Krebs Cycle.

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