Hi all, it’s Karen, back after a long hiatus. I’m up to my ears in projects, and haven’t had time to even think about posting in ages; sorry!
Dana saw a Facebook post of mine, and suggested it would be a suitable blog post. Since Dana can be very persuasive, I will share the gist of it with you all.
I was thinking about teachers (especially high school teachers) the other day. When I studied for my geology MS, I ended up taking a bunch of undergraduate classes, playing catch-up because my BS is in computer engineering. Now, my university department offers two undergraduate degrees: a BS in geology, intended for scientists, and a BA in earth science, intended for teachers. The undergrads working on their BA were often not at the top of the game, scientifically speaking; they didn’t get the top grades; and there was an undercurrent of, “oh, they’re not real geology students, they’re going to be teachers.” Nobody ever came out and said that, but you could feel it. (This was NOT from faculty, by the way, but from other students.)
And I was thinking about this attitude. Too often, I hear the disparaging claim that “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”. But do I give a rat’s patootie that my high school earth science teacher can explain the details of, oh, the metamorphism of blueschist-facies minerals? No, I care that she or he can explain much more basic things, but in a clear and interesting way. How rain forms. How the members of ecosystems support the whole. The gist of how plate tectonics makes mountains and basins and volcanoes and big earthquakes. And most importantly, why students should care about any of these things.
And so I raise my cup of tea to teachers who weren’t the A students in metamorphic petrology, or 18th century literature, or the history of the Roman Empire, or advanced organic chemistry… but are busy successfully guiding young people in learning the basic principles of science, language, history, math, and whatnot. It’s a whole different skill set, difficult to learn well, and incredibly important in our society. You rock.