THE PEDAGOGICAL DIAGENESIS OF GEOLOGY INSTRUCTION IN THE SECONDARY CLASSROOM: THE EXPERIENCES AND SUCCESSES OF ONE RURAL VIRGINIA EDUCATOR
Atypically, Geology is offered as a stand-alone science in many high schools throughout the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and has been for well over a decade. During this time and in this region, it has become increasingly clear that teaching introductory high school Geology in the traditional manner, by using a Physical Geology curriculum, is not sufficient, practical, and perhaps far from ideal. Though all secondary students receive some manner of general academic college-preparatory instruction, many will not go on to college and still fewer toward careers in the geosciences. Most of these graduates will enter the workforce directly or pursue further education in the form of trade school or as apprentices. All of these students, however, have in common their use of geological resources in the form of the cars they drive, the phones and electronics they use, and in the natural environment in which they live. Geology is the practical science, when viewed from this perspective, and it is thus imperative that such courses are taught with lively field experiences, a focus on local and global geosystems science, a good dose of economic and environmental geology, and effective project-based pedagogy. When taught this way to a broad student body, Geology becomes the science that is remembered as these students become adults and as they interact with the world around them.