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teaching and learning - helen-louise
teaching and learning
One of the things that's interesting about doing teaching and learning at the same time is that I get to experience the teacher-student interaction from both sides. Which is, y'know, obvious. But today I have been dealing with particularly bizarre questions and misunderstandings from my students, which has made me wonder whether any of my teachers look at my questions in the same way. So I'm all paranoid now about stupid things that I might have said or done recently.

Leaving aside the totally WTF thing that one of my students said about broccoli this afternoon (she thought I had a piece of mouldy broccoli on my desk when actually it was one of the poppy seed knot bread rolls I eat every day – because I would, of course, keep grey/brown broccoli on my desk instead of putting it in the food recycling bin like a normal person), I've had some annoying misunderstandings lately. This morning we were studying chirality and my student entirely failed to grasp the thalidomide example. He kept saying things like “but why did they use the drug if they knew it was poisonous?”, and I had to keep repeating how the scientists at the time didn't know that thalidomide had two enantiomers, and it was tested thoroughly on healthy male adults, and that the “wrong” enantiomer is only dangerous to unborn babies. And then he argued with me how the birth defect had to be genetic, and I was trying to explain how it was thought to be a developmental defect rather than a mutation (although this is now debatable as some thalidomide victims have had similarly-damaged children while others haven't). Except it was first thing in the morning and my brain wasn't working, and I've only just thought of the fact that we only grow arms and legs once, so it could just as easily be the chemical environment in the uterus at fault. Duh.

I hate the fact that I'm not a morning person but I get forced to deal with mornings occasionally. It's so difficult to get any sense out of my brain before about 3 pm. Thinking is so much easier late at night when the intuitive leaps of logic exist, which is why all my best work gets done after 10 pm. I suppose it's no wonder that I think morning people are mutants when they go to bed when my brain is at its most active, and why I have so much trouble even attempting to go to sleep then. Ah well.

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nmg From: nmg Date: 25th November 2008 10:45 (UTC) (Link)
and I was trying to explain how it was thought to be a developmental defect rather than a mutation [...] it could just as easily be the chemical environment in the uterus at fault

Isn't that the definition of a developmental defect? In the absence of structural chromosomal abnormalities or monosomy/polysomy/polyploidy, you're only really left with environmental factors in utero as an explanation.
From: artremis Date: 25th November 2008 12:26 (UTC) (Link)
there's an intresting passage in one of he science of dicworld books about the interaction of genes and womb chemicals (?is there a better word for that?) with thailodomide which talks about why some thalidomider's offspring have been affected
barakta From: barakta Date: 25th November 2008 18:21 (UTC) (Link)
IIRC there was also something about animal tests which showed the tetra/mutagenicity of thalidomide and these were covered up - I could be wrong.

I wonder if it might both cause permanent DNA damage as well as physical damage. Or if some thalidomide diagnosed people don't actually have thalidomide as it were, and have similar looking disabilities. I don't know about thalidomide enough to say though.
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