The theme for Scientiae this month is Unleash. I must confess this has given me some problems and in fact has been really rather depressing as I have sat here for almost an entire month wondering what I would like to unleash. Unleash implies that there is something leashed, something chained up, something waiting to be released where it can run wild and free across all the neighbors’ backyards and possibly out into traffic. And, I have looked deep into my soul and discovered that I really don’t have anything like that hiding in there. There is nothing waiting, chomping at the bit (if you will allow me to mix my metaphors), to be let loose out into world.
I have been wondering why this is. There are plenty of things that I feel strongly about. I think the state of science education in this nation is appalling. I am frustrated that the term “science education” implies education for children as though we should just write off the possibility that today’s adults can become scientifically literate. And I think women get a raw deal all around and I don’t like the fact that so many of us feel we need to leave science in order to have a family. And then there’s this whole mess with my sister right now and her fiancé and their new baby and no health insurance and we just found out that in addition to the five-year old daughter he has from his first marriage, he has a three-year old daughter from the woman he was dating prior to my sister (okay, to be honest, I think there may be a bit of unleashing that could be done there as in “unleashing the fury that can only come from an older sister as she contemplates the no-good bum with whom her younger sister is entangled” but I digress).
The thing is, whenever I think about these things, instead of getting fired up, I just get tired. And while it may be perfectly normal to become exhausted when thinking about all of the things that are terribly wrong with the world that you would like to change (especially if that is a very long list), it’s not the sort of thing one talks about as “unleashing.” I mean what would that be, exactly? Unleashing your Inner Heavy Sigh? Letting loose the Beast From Within Who Really Just Wants to Take a Nap? That’s not the sort of thing that inspires fear in the hearts of science education policymakers everywhere.
And, well, it’s hard to get fired up about science education when you’re a burned-out nth year grad student who just wants to get her damn thesis done and get on with life. So, how about I tell you about what I would like to be able to one day unleash? Once I am done with graduate school, I would like to unleash the Science Educator With a Plan to Improve the System. I would also like to unleash the Writer That is Hidden in the Very Depths of My Soul I Know She is in There so that I may write a book or three in order to contribute to adult science education. And then there’s the Activist Who Wants to Beat Politicians Who Cut Science Funding Especially That Guy from NASA Who Cut the Funding To Her Husband’s Project So That He Had to Find a Job Half a Continent Away Yes Sir I am Talk to YOU (actually, I have this vision of leading a march of NASA spouses on the Director’s office and holding a sit-in and shouting things like, “Fund basic science, not space stations!!” until the police cart us away).
Actually, when I think about all of that, I do start to feel a little tingle in my soul, a little Inner Something yearning to be free. But, it’s going to have to wait. I have a doctorate to finish.