Before I was a writer, or a teacher, or a scientist, I was a student.
And for the most part, I was a pretty good student. In math and science, I was a great
student. In English, I was a great student if I liked the material. But in history, I mostly just memorized the information I needed in order to get by. I enrolled in Latin because speaking a foreign language was a mystery to me. And in art and music, well, mostly I was just seized with the panic that someone would realize I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
I’m assuming that’s how my school-years would’ve continued had it not been for the slew of amazing teachers I encountered in high school. I’m not sure if they were paying extra attention, or maybe I was just really outspoken about my interests by then, or maybe they were just really, really clever. More than likely, they understood that there were not only different types of learners, but—more to the point—different types of kids. I was a kid who loved science.
Regardless of the reason, I started high school and suddenly found myself looking forward to history, and art, and all the classes I used to be somewhat indifferent toward. It’s not that I suddenly remembered historic dates or developed a previously unknown artistic ability, but I started to see that no subject exists in a bubble. That there is science in everything, and writing in science, music in language, and art in history. Subjects are not so strictly defined, and neither are we.
It was my teachers who showed me this. They reached me.
When it came time to select a research topic in American history, my teacher asked me if I had heard about the influenza outbreak of 1918, which is how I ended up writing a paper on how the most deadly pandemic in American history affected said history.
And the next year, in Western Civilization, when we needed to pick an empire for a project, that same teacher let me pick NASA. Yes, NASA. As long as I could back up my case.
A music teacher suggested I might enjoy music theory (he was right). An art teacher pointed out the angles in art. I saw the math in it—how altering the angles could change the dimension, maybe even change the whole meaning behind it.
I memorized and performed The Raven
in drama class—a class that previously terrified me—because I loved the darkness and the cadence, and my mother had put that poem in my hands years earlier.
Somebody else put JURASSIC PARK in my hands. Writing and science blurred—art
and science blurred.
So here’s the thing: I don’t remember the date of the Magna Carta (wait: 1215? Hmm. That was weird), and I can’t list the presidents in order, but I know how to research. I understand how empires rise, and then fall. And I understand how one event can affect government, policy, science, and war.
I only taught for 2 years before staying home with kids of my own. But I did learn a lot in those 2 years. Things I didn’t do, at first, until I remembered what my teachers had done for me.
I had to remember that there is science in sports and in cars, and that there is history and art in science. And I had to remember to say yes. When a student wants to take a field trip to the parking lot to show off his new sound system? Say yes. Make him prove to us that sound is a form of energy, and that it can be transferred. Someone wants to build a clay model of a cell instead of listing the components? Yes. Write a poem on the properties of water? Yes.
I had to remember to let my students pick their own diseases to research. They all had one that affected their lives, and everyone was much more interested in listening to their classmates present the information than in listening to me spout facts.
I had to remember that there’s a history to science, just as much as there is science in history. That there is writing in science, and there could be science in writing.
And that reading ties everything together.
When I was young, my mother gave me books when I had science questions, which is why I believed, and still believe, that answers come through reading. And I’m not just talking about nonfiction. I discovered a lot of truths through fiction, too, though mine may not be the same as someone else’s.
It’s the feeling that resonates—for me, or for you—the one that makes us think: yes
. Megan Miranda was a scientist and high school teacher before writing FRACTURE, which came out of her fascination with scientific mysteries—especially those associated with the brain. Megan has a BS in biology from MIT and spent her post-college years either rocking a lab coat or reading books. She lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, where she volunteers as an MIT Educational Counselor. Fracture is her first novel.
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