Hey friends, I’m back with another batch of Lessons From the Classroom! Today, we’re taking a look back at Science – the subject where, in theory, it all went wrong. Oh yeah, we’re going to get deep in this one. This entire blog is essentially a way for me to deal with all of my past regrets.
Again, at the time of writing this, I’ve had a few gins.
Not really. I’m going to try and keep it as chirpy as possible. Anyway, science at school for me was always a mixed bag. It was very hit and miss. There were areas that I really loved doing, and areas where I wanted nothing more than to smack my head on the desk and knock myself out so I didn’t have to deal with them. A key piece of the puzzle here is to mention that I was very interested in becoming a vet until we got to the secondary school stage. Believe it or not, in the very early years, I actually wanted to be a nurse. But then, you know, emetophobia made damn sure that wasn’t going to happen. I know, animals puke too, but I’d convinced myself that it was going to be a lot easier to deal with, and had politely ignored the fact that training to be a vet was longer than training to be a doctor, let alone a nurse. Naivety is a powerful thing.
The Early Years
In all honesty, I don’t remember a great deal about science in the primary school years. I remember doing a few basic “experiments,” if you could even call them that. You know the stuff, turning solids into liquids (I remember melting a load of stuff – crayons, butter, ice – don’t worry, it was all supervised), looking at whether things float or sink in water. One of my favourite memories is when the teacher would roll in that ropey piece of crap telly on wheels, and we’d watch an episode of Cats Eyes that had been recorded off of BBC2. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Cats Eyes, but (not surprisingly) it was one of my favourite school memories. My husband (who is just 7 months older than me) stands his ground in that it’s a show that NEVER existed, but for me, it legit was a highlight of my school days. It was a “BBC Schools” show aimed at 5-7 year olds that aired throughout the 90s. Essentially, it was about two mischievous alley cats living behind the back of a pizza shop, who would come up with schemes to get free food and make themselves rich, while using scientific principles such as magnets and electricity (thus, the educational element). It was essentially dodgy looking puppets at their finest, but I bloody loved it.
Another thing I remember is how much I enjoyed what I now know was very early level biology. Fuck electricity and solids, liquids and gases, for me it was all about living things. More specifically, the human body. To be even more specific, the digestive system. Looking back, it’s pretty predictable that the kid with the never-ending stomach issues would take a shine to this particular area of science, but at the time, it was just something that really interested me. Maybe it was because I liked learning about how the stomach and the intestines work, or maybe it was simply because I was just another kid that liked the excuse to talk about poo in the classroom, I don’t know. What I remember most though, was a book in the library about how the human body worked, and my favourite chapter was learning about how we go from eating food to crapping it back out. What can I say? I was a weird kid.
The Secondary School Years
Teen TV shows filled me with false ideas about secondary school. I remember the first ever episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch where her class dissected frogs, and little 11 year old me trotted along to science lessons with high hopes. Of course, at that age, you forget that the characters you see on TV are much older than you. There would be no dissecting frogs for me. The highest level of excitement was getting to use a Bunsen burner. Then there was trying to force a pair of cheap plastic goggles to stay on my face over the top of my poorly fitting glasses. Looking back, I can’t help but think that would have set off my OCD in a fucking instant, having me panic to fuck about catching conjunctivitis. Weirdly though, at the time, I was surprisingly okay with it. Things essentially continued as they had done before – I really enjoyed and did pretty well at the biology side of things, but physics and chemistry were more of a struggle.
Anyway, for years 7, 8 and 9 (ages from 11 to about 15), it was pretty much just an umbrella topic of “science.” Then, shit got slightly more real when it came to picking GCSE options. I’m not sure if it’s still the same, but back when I was at school, you could choose from “Double Science” or “Separate Science.” Separate science meant you would have three separate GCSEs – biology, chemistry, and physics; while double science meant you’d have two GCSEs – one was science, and the other was “additional science.” It may come as no surprise to you that separate science was what you needed (or rather, what we were told we needed) if you were looking to progress into medicine or veterinary science. Guess what I picked…
Yes, I picked double science. I had absolutely zero confidence that I could pass chemistry or physics, and also, I had no interest in either of them. As much as I wanted to become a vet, I really couldn’t see myself passing either of them. Not only that, but there were other GCSE options that looked far more appealing (more on that and how utterly fucking useless they were later). While most of my friends chose separate sciences, I trotted off to my double science confident I’d made the right decision. Of course, just because I wasn’t doing separate GCSEs in chemistry and physics, it didn’t mean that I was free of them. At any one time, we were studying two of the three, and it initially started out with biology which had me feeling pretty confident. I was enjoying the lessons, and because I was actually interested in it, I spent more than enough time revising it. So much so, that I came out of my biology exam with an A. Recognise.
Oh yeah, I should mention, I took the chemistry exam just after the biology one. I got an F.
Best of both worlds, am I right?
No. I had to take it again. Thankfully, I did much better the second time around, getting a respectable C. The silver lining though, was that the F I got in chemistry meant that I had scared myself into putting in a bit more effort with that and physics. I still hated them, but I certainly didn’t want another F. Did I mention that I was facing a similar scenario to maths – in that I was terrified to ask the teachers for help? We had a number of different ones over those two years, and to be honest, I never really felt confident enough to ask any of them for help – mainly because I’d seen how bad their tempers would get and I was a massive wuss, worried I’d get bollocked for admitting that I didn’t understand…whatever thing I was trying to learn. See? I can’t even remember any of the basics of chemistry and physics. If only The Big Bang Theory had been around back then.
You essentially did one GCSE a year – the first year was the main science one, and the second was “additional” science. Additional science was not fun at all. Even the biology topics were crap and stupidly difficult. There’s a happy ending though – on GCSE results day, I ended up with a B in science and surprisingly, a C in additional science. It was a bloody shock.
That was it – no more science. I trotted off to my (useless) A-levels absolutely buzzing that I’d never have to do science again.
Not quite. Where I took psychology A-level, there was some light biology in some of the topics involved, like stress and sleep. However, I just about got by, as we had a pretty good teacher. However, the same could not be said for the university stage.
As you’ll know if you’ve been with my blog for a while, I studied psychology at university. There was seemingly a FUCKTON of biology involved. It’s amazing how quickly my love of biology turned to disdain. From trying to remember all of the terminology around the nervous system to attempting to navigate cognitive function, I found myself crying at my desk once again – except this time it was over a £60 textbook rather than an £8.99 CGP revision guide.
Oh yeah, and this time, you were in a lecture theatre of about 60 people – there was no way you could ask for help without those other 59 people giving you a death stare for delaying their lunchtime pint in the union (to which I never had because I didn’t have any friends LOL). However, the silver lining in this case was that it was virtually all essay based – even in the actual exam. There were no booklets asking you to show your workings or draw out any diagrams, so I could smash out a few thousand words and as per usual, aggressively type my way out of failing. By some absolute bloody miracle, I passed my biological psychology module with an A – what the actual F. STILL DIDN’T GET THAT FIRST THOUGH DID I?! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
No, it’s fine, I’m not bitter.
Anyway, to round things up, it wasn’t until I started revisiting the idea of becoming a vet about 2 years after graduating, that I realised I had massively fucked up. After accepting the fact that studying veterinary medicine would be like pissing in the wind, I looked into veterinary nursing courses, but the requirements were still way more than what I had. Entry requirements went right back to those bloody separate science GCSEs, and even though I could pay and enrol on them at my local college, it was still extra money I didn’t have. I spent the best part of a year hating myself – I’d chosen fucking child development over seperate science, even though I wanted to be a vet, and here’s the best part: I HATED KIDS. No, YOU’RE THE IDIOT.
It’s definitely something I’m not proud of – giving up on my own abilities because I was scared of getting told off, but let’s be honest, it’s classic me. It’s probably my biggest regret, and to be honest, I end up berating myself for it at least once a month. If I could go back and give that little fourteen year old twat a slap, take the pen out of her hands and change what she’d ticked on that options form. At the time, I was all like “it doesn’t matter what GCSEs I pick, it’s all good.” Bullshit mate.
- There’s a theme going here but: ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING.
- If you want to be a vet, do your research on what you actually need to be a vet.
- Cats Eyes is a bloody good TV show.
Sorry guys, that got pretty intense at times. Science was definitely one of those topics that offered the best of both – things I actually enjoyed combined with things that I would have rather burnt out my retinas with a Bunsen burner than attempt to learn. As much as I hated physics and chemistry, I really loved biology and I’m quite sad I didn’t really take it any further. Maybe if The Supervet had been a thing back when I was in secondary school, I would have taken my decision a bit more seriously. Who knows.