Thinking Citizen Blog — Pedagogically Сorrect — How to Teach Science — The Liver as Cinderella | by John Muresianu | Nov, 2021

Thinking Citizen Blog: Friday is Education and Education Policy Day

Today’s Topic — Pedagogically Сorrect — How to Teach Science — The Liver as Cinderella

Did you get “the liver”? I didn’t. Remember the circulatory system? It was all about the lungs and the heart, right? The digestive system? All about the stomach and the intestines, right? Well, what about the liver? Well, it did five hundred things — which means in the end the student (ie. me) remembers nothing. Maybe something about bile. Pedagogically correct means identifying the right word (tag), the right image, and the right numbers to make anything worth remembering memorable. If you can’t remember it, you can’t, so to speak, digest it. Digestion takes time. Ideally the package of image, words, and numbers should be set to music and spiced up with humorous rhyming couplets. And then passed on with refinements from generation to generation. A huge job opportunity for under-employed English and music majors. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

THE CARDIO-PULMONARY-HEPATIC SYSTEM — redefining the circulatory system

1. The third leg of the circulatory system is the liver.

2. Blood has to be pumped (the heart). Blood has to have carbon dioxide taken out and oxygen put in (the lungs).

3. But is also must be nutrified (the liver). Let’s take the liver out of the shadows. Out of the rags and tatters.

NB: To steal a line from comedian Rodney Dangerfield, the liver “don’t get no respect.” At least not the respect it is due.

THE DUAL DIGESTIVE SYSTEM — the hollow and the solid

  1. The above graphic comes from the Cleveland Clinic website.

2. It’s like Hamlet without the Prince. The text mentions the liver. The graphic does not. This is not a little slip up. We need graphics in science books that are pedagogically correct in that they clarify rather than obscure the critical relationships and functions.

3. What’s the point of all that stuff that goes on in the stomach and intestines if the nutrients don’t get into the blood somehow and then to the cells?

NB: The digestive system has two sets of organs the hollow (above), and the solid (not shown). The liver is the most important (and biggest) of the latter. What is the best graphic you have ever seen that tells this story best?


1. Your liver weighs about 3 lbs. A man’s heart weighs about 10 ounces. A woman’s heart about 8 ounces.

2. Your liver is about the size of a football. The heart is about the size of a fist.

3. Without the hepatic circulation which takes venous blood from the digestive organs into the “portal vein” and then into the liver and from there into the vena cava and from there into the right ventricle of the heart for oxygenation and detoxification, well your blood would not have the nutrients it needs and you would not be you, or anybody else for that matter.

NB: Now what artist out there is ready to come up with a great diagram telling this incredible story? What poet is ready to craft those rhyming couplets? What musician is ready to match the couplets to a beloved tune that every potential student already knows and loves? What college president, what high school or elementary school principal, what minister of education has taken on the responsibility of making sure this work gets done? What candidate for public office at the local, state, or national level has prioritized this issue? Is this an opportunity for some one who thinks that education just might be the key to our democracy, our economy, and our identity?

FOOTNOTES — Is this graphic helpful? Is it pedagogically correct?

1. No. It’s not helpful. It’s not pedagogically correct.

2. It’s too confusing. Too much there.

3. A pedagogically correct diagram would be one so simple it is easy for a student to re-produce for a friend to share the excitement of learning about another miracle of life.

NB: Seen one lately? Ever? If so, please share.


PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to education or education policy. Or the coolest thought however half-baked you had. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to education or education policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random education-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something that is dear to your heart.

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