I feel what I can contribute to young people is unique, in that I have developed to a degree a view of biology that could be called integrated, that is, one that approaches a given scientific problem from a place that is informed by an accurate understanding of biochemistry, physics, statistics, genetics, cell biology, and many others.
The benefit of an integrated to view to the classroom environment is that it allows us to ask questions. Many textbooks describe in a straightforward manner the eukaryotic cell, the appearance and function of its organelles. What is more interesting is to ask how and why these compartments look and function as they now do. Can we describe, based on universal processes that we can observe, how things came to be this way? What unknowns must we pass through to get there? Have scientists explored these unknown areas? To what degree? What else do we want to know, and critically, how can we use the scientific method to shed light there?
How about the endosymbiotic theory? Photosynthesis? Quorum sensing? Why do our bodies look and operate the way they do?
So I’m interested in scientific questions, especially those that fall under categories like evolutionary biology, microbiology, genome evolution, and systems biology. But further - why teach?
I love to talk about these things. More accurately, I love to converse about them. The classroom is a special place, because within it the teacher and student agree to set aside a bit of time out of the week to explore, learn, and discuss. Distractions are set aside until the end of the hour, and critical thinking is encouraged.
A student who can react to the unknown by developing a hypothesis and considering how a biologist might design a series of experiments to test it engages with the skepticism, creativity, and curiosity that make the scientific approach so unique.
Young people are much smarter than this society gives them credit for. To listen to their questions, encourage their curiosities, and plant the seeds of a viewpoint that is firmly rooted in the proper use of the scientific method is quite rewarding to me indeed.