In the last one year, I have had the opportunity to teach a college class on biodiversity, to students who are pursuing botany and zoology courses. It has been an interesting experience. In the course of teaching the college class on biodiversity, I have made several observations.
Firstly, I have observed (with great concern) that most of my students are only interested in mastering enough facts about biodiversity to pass their examinations. They are not interested in understanding why biodiversity is important in real life, what they can do to conserve biodiversity… and so on. They are only interested in passing their exams, and forgetting about biodiversity soon thereafter. As I have come to view it, from the students’ perspectives, the whole thing is akin to when one goes to the Gap eService website, with the objective of going through the motions of the Gap credit card application procedure. One is inclined to leave the website, and forget about it completely, once he manages to make the application. But education is supposed to be different. One is supposed to be learning with the objective of retaining the knowledge for a lifetime. But the students have a more expedient view of things: they learn in order to pass their exams, period.
Secondly, I have observed that there are relatively few good textbooks on the subject of biodiversity that I can refer my students to. Even where textbooks are available, they only deal with the technical aspects of biodiversity. It is hard, for instance, to find a book dealing with the subject of the cost of running a biodiversity advocacy organization. For some of these topics, I have had to dictate notes to students: a practice I abhor, because under normal circumstances, I prefer to simply refer my students to specific textbooks.
Thirdly, I have observed that high schools do (what is in my opinion) a rather poor job of preparing students for college. I have found myself having to teach my students basic facts: things that they should have learned in high schools.