Monday, January 27, 2014

Why Must There Be So Much Memorization In Biology?

This is the first installment of the answer to the question (or complaint!), "Why must there be so much memorization in biology?" [The second installment of the answer can be found in the post entitled "How should I study for biology?"]

A Funny Analogy - American Football

Biology studies living organisms (or living organisms that have died). Living organisms happen to be very (VERY) complicated things. Here is a male-centric, modern-day American analogy: American football (sorry, gals). A football game is played by two teams, each with 11 players on the field. There are many rules in the game of football. With anything that has many moving parts and rules to govern those movements, understanding that thing is aided by names and definitions. When a football player breaks a rule, the referee will stop the game and describe the violation. "Personal foul on the offense. Number 17. Ten yard penalty." This means that player number 17 on the team that has possession of the ball made an illegal move against his opponent. If the game of football did not have an established definition for the terms, "personal foul," "offense," and "number (referring to the number on the player's jersey)," then the referee might have to say something like the following. "The guy who's 6 ft. 2 in., with three tattoos on his arm, who is on the team that is standing near the fans who are drinking coke. Yeah, that guy. He was unnecessarily aggressive against the other team. I will penalize his team by making them move 10 yards away from their goal." Now, compare that to: "Personal foul on the offense. Number 17. Ten yard penalty."

To work off of this football analogy, studying a biological life form or process is like trying to understand a game of football where there are 100 players on each team, four balls, four end zones in which to score points, 50 conditions under which certain rules of football do not apply, and another 50 conditions under which players switch teams for a few minutes. Mind boggling isn't it? Which is why learning biology takes effort and the right strategy. I will describe that strategy in another post.

Category: Science Lessons

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