Much has already been said about the fiasco surrounding the firing of professor Maitland Jones Jr. by New York University as the result of a student petition claiming that his organic chemistry class was too difficult. Without wishing to comment on this case myself, I am reminded of a related aspect of teaching organic chemistry that I suspect others may also have experienced.
Organic chemistry seems to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of most practicing physicians. Some have been left with very positive feelings about this subject, while others have very negative feelings. Both groups of doctors keenly remember how important it was for them to receive good grades in organic chemistry to be admitted to medical school.
Today, when I tell my doctor that I’ve taught organic chemistry, this always draws an immediate response. Some light up with a smile and tell me how much they’ve enjoyed this class, while others frown and offer words to the contrary. When the latter happens, this does give me pause for thought. Is this the right doctor for me? On one occasion, only moments before I was anesthetized for a colonoscopy, my gastroenterologist asked me what class I was teaching at my university. When I told her it was organic chemistry, her face lit up with a smile. Oh, what a relief that was.Steven L. RegenBethlehem, Pennsylvania
I try not to think about this stuff too much (i.e. I would really rather not know how medical providers think about chemistry), but it's nice to talk to medical providers who are at least a little bit receptive to the concept of chemistry...