Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 14 Issue 02

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Volume 14, No. 2
Pages 50 - 51


THE OCEANOGRAPHY CLASSROOM • Why Should Our Students be Interested in What We Teach Them?

By Dean A. McManus 
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It is comforting to believe that educators, even though many of us are unenlightened as to the derivation of the word “student,” nonetheless hold deep within us a pellucid idealization of “the student” that is very nearly the essence of the word. The word “student,” it turns out, comes from a Latin word meaning “to be zealous,” which is taken from a word meaning “eager attention, study.” Isn’t this what we wish our students to be? Is this not our ideal student? Zealous to learn! Eagerly attentive! Prepared to study! If all our students were to fit this description, we would merely have to present them with the information, and they would take it from there-attentive to what we say and do and zealously undertaking the task of learning. Could this perhaps be how we treasure the memory of ourselves as students? So dear is this idealization to us that, I believe, its allure may involuntarily suffuse our perception of the students entering our class each term. Perhaps subconsciously, we hope that if we will but transfer the information to them, they shall learn it. Sooner or later, however, we come to accept the fact that it does not apply to all of them and that we must do more than transfer information to them. As educators, we very much want our students to learn what we teach them about the ocean. The question that tends to escape our attention is: Why should our students be interested in what we teach them? The question may seem pointless. As long as we imagine we are teaching ideal students, the question is indeed irrelevant and can be safely ignored, for the students will be eager to learn whatever we teach them. When we realize that we are teaching real students, however, the question becomes not only relevant, but critical. Why is that?


McManus, D.A. 2001. In the oceanography classroom: Why should our students be interested in what we teach them? Oceanography 14(2):50–51, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2001.48.

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