Today I walked into my upper-level Eukaryotic Genetics class and saw we were going to be studying Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium for the bajillionth time. One of my biggest pet peeves as a biology undergraduate is learning the same stuff over and over again. I understand there’s some need for review – sometimes you didn’t learn it well the first time, or maybe you’re just rusty and need a refresher. But eventually it becomes a tad bit ridiculous. If you’re a junior or senior Genetics major (aka, people in this class), I would hope you’d have the basics pretty fucking down by now. Let’s see the running total on how many classes have had me review these concepts for far:
Basics on DNA:
Mitosis and Meiosis:
Even if you came from the worst high school ever, you should have been taking the college classes. Granted, I’ve taken some electives that go towards these totals…but at least 4-6 of those classes are mandatory for biology majors. The sad thing? Some people are still confused or lost about these topics. Really? I mean, I understand needing help with three-factor crosses, or elaborate signaling cascades or something…those can be confusing even if you’ve heard it once before. But it’s beyond me how you can get to your final years in a biology program and still not understand the fundamentals. How the hell have you made it this far?
We spend so much time reviewing concepts we should have mastered already that I hardly feel like I’m learning anything new from my classes. Most of my intellectual growth has come from working in a laboratory for the past two years, or reading up on science at my own leisure. We’ve yet to cover a new topic in Eukaryotic Genetics, and there are only four weeks of class left. I want to say that I absolutely love the vast majority of my biology Professors, including the one for Eukaryotic Genetics. I don’t blame them for the review, because it seems like so many people need it. The problem is our educational system is catering to the people who are lagging behind, and they end up dragging everyone down with them. I guess I was spoiled being in honors/accelerated programs in high school, but I wish there was some sort equivalent for biology courses here.
This also leads to the scary realization of how low the requirements are in order to get your degree. While I’m at the top of my class, I still feel like there is so much about genetics and evolution that I don’t know yet. I still read journal articles with some difficulty because I’ve never been taught most of the concepts they talk about. In fact, to be a Genetics major you only need to take ONE upper level genetics class, in addition to your “core” introductory biology courses. Same for the Evolution degree – just take the one upper level evolution class, and you’re done. You have to take other upper level biology classes as electives from a list, but you can pick some that aren’t directly relevant.
I realize this post may come off as pretentious/whiney, but I can’t help but be annoyed. It just scares me that I, along with my classmates, will be considered qualified in our field when we’ve learned so little. What’s even scarier is that while I recognize how much more there is to learn and I want to go to graduate school, there are people who still don’t understand punnett squares and they want to become doctors. Yikes. Let’s just hope there’s a difference between “want to become” and “will become.”
Is this a biology specific problem, or do other majors experience this?