Trim the curriculum Ronald Gillespie, a professor of chemistry at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, is one of many teachers who noticed about 10 years ago that the 1960s trend of stressing physical chemistry concepts in introductory courses omitted inorganic, descriptive chem- istry. As a result, his students knew little about common chemicals. The solution in the United States and Canada was to put the missing topics back in--but the average chemistry textbook swelled to more than a kilopage, and instructors felt compelled to race through it all. The same expansion was happening in biology. With added material on genetics, behavior, health, and environmental problems, texts swelled to an unmanageable length.

Gordon Uno, a biology professor at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, offers one increasingly common solution in burgeoning scientific fields whose content refuses to be crammed into an academic calendar: "Realize that you can't do it all. It's...

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