2 minutes reading time (431 words)

My Teen’s Love/Hate Relationship With Science: A Corn Story

My freshman daughter hates science. Okay, maybe hate is a too strong a word, but she sure doesn’t love it. And that’s all very sad for me since I have a biology degree and made university research my home for 8 years!  She works hard nonetheless and this year she’s studying biology.


Her class has been assigned to read the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. One thing is certain: She hates this book. I’m talking visceral, primal, with-all-her heart kind of hate. For the past 6 weeks my family has been swimming in an ocean of teen whining and complaining.


The non-fiction book starts out chronicling the life and times of the humble corn plant. And that’s the problem. It goes on and on (and on) about corn. It’s dry, boring and seriously stinky reading for a high school student more accustomed to Harry Potter and “Expelliarmus Spells.”


As part of the project, she had to look up 10 common food items in our pantry and note which had corn products in them. She realized nearly every item from crackers to soda pop to all sorts of condiments contained corn in one of its various forms. More interestingly, while completing this assignment, my younger two kids couldn’t help but listen and (shockers!) learn along with her.


The other night 3 teen girls were in my kitchen making peanut butter brownie bar (Carissa's  daughter is second from left in photo), surrounded by two of her friends. About half of the conversation during the mixing and baking consisted of bits and pieces related to the sinister corn syrups and corn stabilizers. (I think the propaganda is getting to them.)


So, for a book she (and all her friends) detest so much, why are they talking about it non-stop? I sent a note to her teacher after the brownie incident to share what I was hearing and seeing at home. And to thank her for creating the love/hate relationship my kid has with this book! How strange—could it be she’s actually learning from a dry, boring, and realistic book? OR, weirder, that she might like it?


The class hasn’t finished the book yet, but I plan to steal it from her when she’s done. I want to know why the unfortunate corn plant has become so despised. 


I do have one kid (my little boy) who loves all things science. And now seeing my daughter diving in and maybe liking a little of it as well, perhaps my genes did transfer after all?



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#5 mama117 2012-01-26 02:21
My daughter just got home from a friends........ ......:/ Not sure how that went because they were supposed to science homework hopefully it got done!!!! I'm about to check.......... ....
#4 mama117 2012-01-26 02:16
WOW!!! Haha that's hilarious my teenage daughter is the same way. She is only in the 8th grade but she absolutely hates science. Last year she loved it but the curriculum has got a lot harder this school year though. There isn't a lot I can do I just tell her to do her homework and do the best she can. Well I wish you luck to you and your daughter!!

Love, Mama117
#3 Amanda Henson 2012-01-24 01:15
My eldest girl loves science and all things related to reading. Also? Now I'm interested in reading this book! Off to put it on my list!
#2 Carissa Rogers 2012-01-23 02:40
I'm thrilled they are reading it too... even more thrilled that despite it NOT being what they are used to reading they are clearly understanding the lessons it's teaching.... (and teaching to younger siblings no less!) :-)
#1 Jenny 2012-01-20 15:05
This book is actually fascinating, and it's written for the lay person - it's an incredibly accessible book and I have recommended it right and left to friends interested in what we are putting into our bodies these days. I am thrilled teens are being challenged to read it and explore it!

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