I was out for lunch with a friend today when I was taken back by a very odd question. She asked me why I choose do what I do when it has no relevance to real life. I was thinking of an appropriate answer to this question as we proceeded to talk about exam schedules and late night study habits. I will be the first to admit that the level of chemistry that I take in university will not be anything that will be useful to my students, but I do believe that as my understanding of the subject deepens I will be more prepared to teach the subject.
My first thought is that I shouldn’t even have to answer such a silly question. I am sitting across from someone who is getting a degree in math… yes, in math, and she wonders how MY subject applies to life? Ha. The waiter comes and sets her spicy pepper pene in front of her. She begins to eat and suprise, its spicy. She starts drinking her water as if to cool the burning in her mouth.
I tell her to drink a sip of my milk and there you go, the pain is relieved. I proceed to help her using my so called “useless” knowledge of chemistry. “Like dissolves like” is the number one rule of organic chemistry. By taking a swig of water after eating a compound that was much unlike the water, the heat just circulated around her mouth. The fats in the milk acted as an agent to “dissolve” the heat, if you will.
I do what I do not because its applicable to my every day life but because I love it. I understand the things that are going on around me in detail and that is satisfying to me. So you getting the math degree, don’t tell me that what is do is useless, I didn’t see your calculus helping you today.