As a chemistry teacher, I find myself hearing the same question multiple times every year.

"Are we going to blow something up?"
"When are we going to blow something up?"

The latter is for when they are really sure we will be blowing something up and just want to know when.
I need to research where this all started from. Students that have never had taken a chemistry course before seem to always ask these questions. Now, I have some questions.

Where are they getting these ideas from?
Did their parents/guardians tell them that that's what chemistry is about?
Did they see it on some TV show?

We are told as teachers to be "fun and exciting" and I have been told that dangerous demonstrations engage students and get them to like science more. I find it interesting that movie teachers are "fun and exciting" are students are instantly engaged.

Being a musician, I tend to have a taste for theatrics (as you might see from my profile picture). I love engaging students and grabbing their attention, but at what cost? Are theatrics supposed to replace learning? If students see something blow up, are they really more engaged in class or are they engaged for the explosion quickly followed by disengagement?

If every lesson is always "fun and exciting", certain things may not be taught as a result. Things such as patience, persistence, metacognition, etc. are not always stressed when everything is "fun and exciting". In some ways, it would be a disservice to students to teach them this way.

I have kept in contact with some students as they graduate and move onto college and I hear a similar type of statement from them each time I discuss work ethic in school. They mention teachers that pushed them were not always "fun and exciting", yet they were very glad that they had them as teachers because it made them a harder worker, better thinker, better student, etc. compared to a teacher that was more "fun and exciting". Sometimes students find this out before college, but not in my experiences.

Those "tough" teachers could almost be viewed as teaching sustainable "fun and exciting"-ness. Now that the students think deeper, don't give up as easily, and take pride in what they do (among other things), their studies/job/career/lives will be "fun and exciting" and empowering at the same time. I say sustainable because the student would have the skills necessary to be a life-long learner. This is in contrast to feeding a student's lack of attention span with some theatric. I would rather have the students struggle in high school than in college or in the real world.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that teachers should not show enthusiasm and elation in class. I'm not condoning boring, monotone (Bueller...) teachers. I'm not saying teaching shouldn't be fun. I'm strictly talking about explosions and other dangerous experiments meant simply just to engage get the attention of the student.
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