High School Biology Teacher to 2012 Nobel Prize Winner: “You’ll Never Make it as a Scientist”

The Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology was awarded today to two researchers who made landmark discoveries in cell biology.  According to The New York Times, one of the researchers, John B. Gurdon of Cambridge University, was originally discouraged from becoming a scientist by his high school biology teacher.  The teacher wrote: “I believe Gurdon has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous.  If he can’t learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part and of those who would have to teach him.”

Gurdon, however, kept his love of biology alive, in part, through a fascination with the color patterns on the wings of butterflies and moths.  He eventually was accepted into a graduate program in the embryology department at Oxford University, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Dr. Gurdon was the first scientist to clone an animal, a frog, in 1962.

High school biology teachers everywhere:  Take heed!   Do not disparage the efforts of even the most meagre student in your charge.  He or she may become a Nobel Prize winner and make a mockery of your judgments.

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I am the author of 16 books including my latest: The Power of the Adolescent Brain: Strategies for Teaching Middle and High School Students published by ASCD and available at: http://bit.ly/2bmxu5U.

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