I was never good in Science, in school. Science was really non-existant in elementary in my classes. In middle school, I felt like the teacher was more concerned with not losing any of the brand new lab equipment than with actually teaching Science. He spent the few lab lessons with an almost shake-down style inventory of all the equipment in the kit. I remember no one went anywhere until the missing piece was found. Then, in High school I had a Biology teacher who was disconnected, teaching the subject with little interest in the students, in my freshman year. It was different in my sophomore year...when I got a teacher who actually spoke to me...frequently. He invited me to visit his church, which I did with him and his wife a few times. He knew I was a Christian and we mostly discussed religion. But, I understood enough to pass his class.
But, college Bio was a different world. That 6th class I signed up for was taught by a young teacher who, though quite passionate about the subject, had no experience teaching and was not good at teaching. She was what I call a "religious evolutionist." It was like a religion to her. She actually made the statement once in class, trying to explain evolution, "It's just so true, so amazingly true!" This was a gushing defense of her faith in evolution, and I'm not sure she knew how to explain her faith...but she believed. I never discussed it with her, because 1) I felt she was like a "new convert" in evolution religion and not equipped for theological arguments, and 2) I was so busy trying to pass her class that I rarely spoke.
She noticed me right away. I was crying before and after each test in her class. I was also praying in the bathroom before and after each class, which she probably never knew. It was just so scary, not understanding and yet knowing I had to pull a "C" grade in this and one more Science course to graduate. I had an A+ average in my Junior and Senior years until then. She came up to me in the bathroom after a test and suggested I see the guidance counselor. I was stuck. I couldn't not go, and keep failing. So, I saw the counselor that week. She gave me several suggestions, like sitting next to someone who "got it" and copy their notes since I didn't understand the lectures well enough to take my own notes. She also told me it would be a good idea to mention to the instructor that I had visited the counselor, as she had suggested. She said this would make the teacher feel more of a stakeholder in my success. True enough, the instructor began tutoring me after class in her office.
I wasn't a Science idiot. I understood quite a bit of Science, about the surface 40% of whatever was being taught in any given lesson. For example, I understood photosynthesis, and that plants convert sunlight to glucose, which is their food, since they can't pull up their roots and go to Kroger for groceries. This is where the green coloring comes from, as well. But, when we studied photosynthesis, we had to memorize and understand the entire chemical process, which was a long chemical formula.
I sat in her office, a terrified student, listening to her work her way through this formula for me again one day. I was with her. I followed her through several steps, and then I was lost. I asked a sensible enough question, I thought...how she got from one point to another somewhere there in the formula. She threw up her hands in frustration and said, "If you don't know then I can't teach it to you!" That was the end of that lesson, and a signal to visit the bathroom again. :)
I don't know how I managed it, but I pulled the C in her class, by the grace of God and the skin of my teeth. Then, I took Physics for my final Science. I enjoyed that class immensely, especially the 60% I understood. It had a lot of astronomy and the phases of the moon, etc. That was very enjoyable, unlike Biology where I had to butcher a couple of frogs to actually get an intact brain to lay on the sectioned test paper for the final exam in High School.
But, the instructor in Physics gave tests that were made entirely of essay questions. In college, on exam days you could leave after turning in the exam whenever you finished. Each exam I remember reading down the list of questions and having this feeling wash over me of utter failure and frustration. I had the immediate impulse to wad the test up toss it in the trash and walk. But, I fought that impulse, prayed silently, and began to collect my thoughts. I turned my paper over to the back and jotted down the topics we had studied that unit, as I remembered them. Then. I re-read the first question and decided which topic that question was about. I then proceeded to write down sentences covering everything I knew about that topic, hoping an answer to his question was contained somewhere in what I wrote.
This method worked fairly well. I like essay questions much better than multiple choice where you are either right or wrong. With essay tests, if you can talk on paper, you're bound to say something right. :) I passed without tears.
Funny thing is, as a teacher, I was an awesome Science teacher. I was great at breaking it down and using hands on experiments (like my teachers never did) to help my students see the big picture at work. Because it was hard for me to learn, I found it easy to teach. Later, I couldn't believe how many teachers and students who thought I "must have been good in Science in school." It was just the opposite.
As a side note, I used animals of many kinds in my Science lessons as a teacher, from birds to ferrits, and from earthworms to various insects. But, never once did I have an animal killed. I called them "Living Labs." That was just my term for the fact that if I was going to teach about life, I was going to use living creatures.
But, I always felt in my heart that I was an incredible Science teacher BECAUSE of what I had gone through in school to learn Science. Trials make you stronger. Because I could see how Science shouldn't be taught, I found good methods to teach my students. They always appreciated the lessons. Life is like that, you know? The hard things we suffer through make us stronger. Check yourself. You will see that the things that you have struggled with in the past are easy for you now. You passed that trial...that test and now you "get it." This makes you qualified to help someone else get through the test. This means the trials are not in vain. They serve to not only make YOU stronger, but they allow you to help someone else.
I have never regretted one tear I cried in Biology 201. I am glad I made it through hell, as it was the path to the years of heaven I had teaching Science.