Chemistry Instruction

As I take the intro to MEMS course at UW, I am also reviewing basic undergrad chemistry because it has been a billion years since I’ve done so. I’m using Principles of Modern Chemistry: Books: David W. Oxtoby,H. Pat Gillis which seems to be a fine book, but gosh do I think we teach chemistry bass-ackwords. I just don’t see the value, in 2006, of teaching first the classical bonding models and then much later reexamining from a quantum perspective. The classical models just seem brain-damaging to me. Learning things like “The formal charge on an atom in a Lewis diagram is simple to calculate…it would have a postive charge equal to its group number…from this positive charge, subtract the number of lone-pair valence electrons…and then subtract one half of the number of bonding electrons…” is just painful, it just seems like black magic alchemy when it isn’t founded on a deeper understanding of the underlying behaviour. Oh well.