Rainy days like this made Donna’s knees ache, but she did better when the sun shined. Most of the students scurrying around campus wouldn’t understand about sore joints for a couple of decades, but Donna wasn’t young anymore, and all those textbooks got heavy real fast. Sometimes, it made her wonder what she was doing in college at her age, but the wheeled backpack she had spotted in the student store made a huge difference. It had been a good idea to buy the silly thing.
Taking geology to fulfill her Science credit had seemed like a good idea, too, and she had a plan for success. It would just be a matter of reading and taking copious notes on four chapters a night, attending every lecture and taking copious notes, and attending every lab and taking copious notes. And, of course, memorizing EVERYTHING! It was actually quite overwhelming, especially since her timid and quiet nature, combined with her “advanced age”, had held all of her classmates at bay. But her confidence grew a bit when she read chapter one.
“I remember drilling Paul on this when he was in eighth grade,” she thought. “I wonder how much will come back. Let me think…the five steps of the Scientific Method are observation and …um… research, hypothesis, …um… prediction, experimentation, and conclusion.”
Donna’s classes went well, but it wasn’t long before she began to realize something wasn’t right. With every new unit, the Scientific Method seemed to be displaced, in favor of the Theory of Evolution. The textbook did acknowledge that there were other theories, but it felt more like an afterthought, rather than something the student should actually consider, and even that was passed over by Professor Scorly. Normally surly and distant, she actually seemed to come alive whenever she could promote evolution.
As the weeks progressed, Donna’s annoyance grew, and she vented her outrage on her friend. “It’s not right! Most of these kids don’t care at all about geology, but they’ll go away from this class believing evolution is true. If anything, this class should emphasize that it hasn’t been proven!”
Shelley agreed, and pushed the point. “Why don’t you ask her about it?“
Donna considered doing just that, but she had already witnessed other students challenge the professor on minor matters. They were still living with the consequences of “Scorly’s Wrath”. Donna just couldn’t picture Professor Scorly responding in a positive manner, so with no good options, she held her tongue.
Over the course of the term, some of Donna’s classmates had recognized her abilities. Class grades were posted publicly, so it was common knowledge she was near the top of the class. Some were asking to be her lab partner. Others had found she always had extra supplies when they were caught short-handed. Perhaps she had gained a bit of respect from them, as they had from her.
Inevitably, the day finally came that Donna could restrain herself no longer. As she listened to Professor Scorly’s lecture on the development of the Grand Canyon, her mind rebelled at the things she was expected to accept. She watched her classmates blindly accepting every word. She watched Professor Scorly, in her glory, listing every point with triumph, as if this was the ultimate proof that evolution could not be denied.
Without realizing she was going to do it, Donna’s hand went up. A mixture of indignation and nerves welled up inside her, but her voice was calm. “Why do you present all these things as fact, when none of it has ever been proven? It is called the Theory of Evolution…”
At once the classroom was still, some students giving thought to the question, but all students watching the professor and the granny.
Professor Scorly was taken up short for a moment, then could only sputter, “Because evolution has been proven so many times! It is accepted as fact!” Donna watched the rest of the class wait for an answer that would convince them, but the professor had no more to offer. Seeing the expectant stares being directed towards her, Scorly abruptly ended the lesson and retreated to her office, where she stayed until the class ended.
Still surprised by her impulsive challenge, Donna quietly left with the rest of the class, pulling her backpack behind her. Her chagrin was replaced by satisfaction when she heard a voice from somewhere behind her comment, “Now I’m curious about those other theories the book never got into.”
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