2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


DORSCH, Joachim, Physical Sciences, St. Louis Community College at Meramec, 11333 Big Bend Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63122-5799, jdorsch@stlcc.edu

Johannes Walther (1860-1937), eminent sedimentologist and paleoecologist, devoted a considerable portion of his time to geoscience education. He was especially engaged in making detailed recommendations for reforming science education at German schools, carefully and forcefully arguing for placing geology at the center of pre-college science education. He was convinced of the great benefits of geology at the core of science education, but also realized the importance of adequately training pre-service teachers to make the teaching of geology at the pre-college level meaningful. Following Walther, the first phase in the training of a pre-college geology teacher is accomplished at college and involves three to four semesters of formal geology instruction. Lectures, laboratories and extensive field trips will train the pre-service teacher in the various rock types and structural styles, the recognition of important fossils, the consequences of various geological forces and their causes, and the general “rules” of geological processes. In addition, exposure to the principles of other sciences is important to relate geological phenomena to causative physical, chemical or biological processes. The second, and more important, phase in the training of a pre-college geology teacher involves the acquisition of a detailed knowledge of the peculiar geology of the immediate geographic region and school district. The teacher will be on his/her own to acquire this expertise based on the formal college geology training. The teacher needs to study 1) the present state of the region's Earth's surface and its relationship to flora and fauna; 2) the periodically recurring natural phenomena; and 3) the non-periodically recurring natural phenomena. Emphasis and details of the studies will change depending on the geological make up of each region. In addition, the teacher needs to become acquainted with the relevant scientific literature. The teacher's familiarity with the geology and natural phenomena of the immediate geographic region will be of utmost importance, because it will form the basis for the teaching of geology in school. The ability to select interesting and illustrative teaching material from the regional geology will decide the pedagogical success of the geology instruction.