Where Have All the Animals Gone?

At the risk of being labeled old-fashioned, I cannot help but ask: When and why did they take the ““bio”” out of biology? Cells, biochemistry, photosynthesis, genetics, evolution, forensics –– all are important, integral parts of biology. But think back. What part of biology interested you in high school? Your answer may well be influenced by your age!!

Ecology is one small area of biology that still includes the study of organisms. Plants and animals (including humans) are mentioned periodically in high school biology but are no longer studied in any detail. It is true that the categories we cover as biology teachers apply to living things, but the living things are lost in the concepts.

I majored in biology because I loved animals and I wanted to learn more about them. Most of my freshman colleagues in college were pre-med. Very few wanted to be teachers. I wanted to teach students something I thought was interesting and fun to learn about.

Do you get to human biology or zoology in your class? If you do, you know it is like turning on a light switch. The students are more interested, more involved in learning. They have questions. They have stories to tell. They enjoy it!! But it is now the part of biology you get to ““if you have time.”” It is not part of most standardized tests, and therefore it is considered fluff.

How did this happen? Biological information has been growing at a tremendous rate. The information available to students 30 years ago pales in comparison to present-day material. That information is exciting, and publishers want to remain current. Animals, whether as part of classification study or as examples of system studies, are relegated to the back of the book. How long will publishers keep the ““bio”” in biology? We have to make learning interesting. Entertaining students with YouTube videos and computer animations are artificial ways to get their attention. We need to teach things that are current, things that affect their lives, and things that interest them.

We cannot step backwards and diminish the importance of today's biological issues. We need to integrate those concepts with the study of the organisms that give them importance. To get students excited about learning, we simply have to marry organisms and the processes that ensure their survival.

Where Has All the Bio Gone?

(With apologies to Pete Seeger)

Where has all the bio gone?

Long time passing

Where has all the bio gone?

Long time ago

Where has studying flowers gone?

We dropped them all, one by one.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the insects gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the fishes gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the animals gone?

Replaced by technology every one

What will the students learn?

What will the students learn?

Where has knowledge of livings things gone?

Long time passing

Biology once meant studying life.

A long time ago

Where have all the reptiles gone?

Dropped for testing every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the birdies gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the mammals gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the phyla gone?

Gone to testing everyone

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where has student interest gone?

Long time passing

Where has all the interest gone?

Long time ago

Where should all state testing have gone?

Covered by flowers every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?