NAGT > Educational Advocacy > NAGT Position Statements > High School Earth Science Instruction > General Comments

General Comments  

You may use this thread for general comments about the Proposed Position Statement. If there are specific items you wish to comment on in more detail, feel free to start a new thread.

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Small or maybe significant detail.
Small: Our planet's name is a proper noun in English and should be capitalized.
Maybe significant: Naming carries a concept of Earth being a planet with a name as have the planets.

Nice work on the statement. Succinct, conceptual, quotable. It will work with the details in the emerging national science standards.
Bonnie

4270:14860

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I agree with the idea of rigor in a geoscience class, however, I think the emphasis on "quantitative" is misplaced. Although there are areas in geology where experiments play a part and quantitative data can be generated, spatial and temporal scales inhibit much in the way of direct experimentation. Geology is much more a historical science where going out to look at an outcrop or to identify facies relationships will not lead to the accumulation of data in terms of numbers, though that data is no less empirical. Instead of trying to be like the other sciences, the geoscientists and geoscience educators should embrace and promote geology’s legacy of rigorous observation, description, interpretation, logical sequencing of events, spatial reasoning, visualization and use of multiple working hypotheses. Just because we don't have control over many of those pesky variables doesn't make us any less scientific than physics or chemistry, so, why should we try to place our emphasis there? I say just change the word "quantitative" to "empirical" and promote and celebrate geology's uniqueness as a scientific and human endeavor.

4270:14861

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thank you for this well-written statement of an important issue. I want to reiterate Glen's suggestion that we avoid the word "quantitative". Most non-geologists assume that a real experiment must include either a test tube, a microscope, or lots of numbers. As we know,much of the problem solving in the geosciences involve dealing with both time and space in a way that the other sciences do not. We don't want to imply that if it isn't quantitative, then it isn't rigorous.

4270:14862

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As a high school teacher I strongly support your stand. I agree with the limiting of the word "quantitative". Students will be drawn to the qualitative more than the quantitative as will be the public. "Quantitative" seems to me to be part of the rigor involved in the program. Without stressing the quantitative, the qualitative will will be the p.r. to shock the masses and gain support for the geosciences.

4270:14867

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Thank you Bonnie, Wendy and Glenn for this feedback. You are correct that the use of the word "quantitative" is to denote rigor when what is meant is empirical. The use of that word is to address the perception that Earth science courses are less rigorous or challenging than physics, chemistry and biology. The word "quantitative" is used twice in the statement-do you think the use is appropriate in either of the two instances?

4270:14943

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This post was editted by Nazrul Khandaker on Jul, 2011
Dear Dr. Manduca:
Thank you for posting the Draft Position Statement in relation to High School Earth Science Instruction in the NAGT e-newsletter. It is timely and definitely warrants much-needed attention from academia and professional fields associated with geosciences. The position statement is very strong, logical, and given the context, is doable. However, I would like to take the liberty to humbly suggest the following for consideration:

K7-12 Earth Science Certification curriculum needs to be the pre-requisite for obtaining license and emphasis should be given to the candidates having a core concentration in geology. Current structure allows certain number of credits (I believe it is 18 credits), which to my evaluation, does not prepare someone to be proficient in earth system science knowledge. In New York state, current policy requires a core in geology for having a permanent K7-12 license in Earth Science certification. I strongly believe that teacher candidates with well-rounded earth system science knowledge will be able to disseminate and effectively impart geological information to the students with greater authority and convincingly. Often, it is noted that due to lack of well-rounded geology-content knowledge, many existing Earth Science teachers are not able to excite students towards geology and I deem this situation quite alarming. If students are turned away at this level, how are we going to get them back taking college-level geology courses?

We need to have a regular dialog with the local elected representatives, since they can exert tremendous pressure on the government in terms of using geological knowledge and seeking opinions from experts in decision making process. What I am proposing is to have some sort of get-together with the elected representatives during the Earth Day and Back to School Day (early Fall). Given all kinds of natural calamities, energy crises, environmental degradation, that are sweeping the nation, our job should be to make them aware and educate on these issues and enable them to make well-informed decisions or cast vote from scientific point of view.

College geology professors need to participate in K7-12 school activities such as Open House, Career Night, Science Fair, opting as a judge, etc. Unless we reach out to the local schools, we are going to miss the grand opportunity for attracting students towards geosciences. Through direct participation, we are going to lend us towards a greater visibility in terms of marketing geology programs to the high school students and ensuring spontaneous college-bound course selection option pertaining to geosciences.


Look forward to working with you on this and thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to interact with you.

Sincerely yours,
Nazrul I. Khandaker

4270:14944

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Hi Susan. I think that what we need to do is promote what geology is rather than try to make it something it is not. If the perception is that geology is less rigorous a science because it is not experimental or is "interpretive" then what we need to do is change the perception. Geology as it was, was considered a rigorous science (turn or the 19th century). So, the possibilty is there. Cosmology and evolutionary biology are not quantitative by this I mean there are no experiments testing theories. THey are considered rigorous. What we need is good PR and step out or our inferiority complex. I don't have a problem with saying there is a place for quantitative data in geology, my issue was its use in the proximity with rigor, and the implication from that relationship. One of the most recent major leaps in science, the development of the theory of plate tectonics has happened in the last 40 or so years. It did not come about through the way of experimentation but a new way to interpret old data. That is significant in so many arenas, geology, history and philosophy of science. I don't know. I just feel strongly about it.We are a special breed, geologists. The types of problems we have to face are those where experiments will not help, but model building, naturalistic data interpretation, discerning data from "noise" and seeing "noise" as data. These are not easy things and require some intuition to be able to do well. But don't be fooled that this is more subjective than any chemist or phycisist (no offense). Their "experiments", data collection and interpretation is just as theory laden. The numbers just give the guise of objectivity. That idea, however, has been pretty well discredited. We just need to inform the rest of the world of it. That's all.

Long answer for "We can use quantitative if we think it is necessary, but I don't think it is necessary."

Best, Glenn

4270:14945

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I'll chime in to say that I think the statement does most of what I would strive for, and that I agree with Glenn, and Wendy about empiricism and Bonnie about spelling Earth with a capital 'E.'

I also wonder about the phrasing of the opening sentence -- does it need to have "ubiquitous" as the second word? It seems like there might be a more compelling way to open the statement. Maybe something like:

"Issues of climate, energy and natural disasters are issues of great and growing importance that require deep understandings of Earth system science, yet most Americans' formal education in this vital science is complete by the end of the eighth grade."

Then the second half of the first sentence (regarding policy makers) could be made to stand alone. Other than the issue well described by Glenn, and capitalizing Earth, the rest of it is excellent.

4270:14947

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I suggest that the positions be broadened to include support for geoscience education across the curriculum in high schools. Although I wish there were qualified earth science teachers and good earth science classes at all high schools, this is not likely to occur soon. A bullet point or two should be added that emphasize a goal of earth science literacy among high school graduates, perhaps specifically mentioning environmental issues, natural resources, natural hazards, and climate change. As it stands, the position bullets could be interpreted as self-serving – hire geoscience teachers. Whether or not there is an earth science course in a high school, its graduates should still be exposed to some geochemistry, geophysics, paleontology, etc. We should advocate for geoscience literacy, and then push for earth science courses at all high schools as the best way to achieve it.

4270:15000

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I teach an Introductory Geology class in a private high school in SF, CA. The course is modeled on the course taught in many Community Colleges, scaled back a bit for high school students. I'm checking in to say "Thanks" to the authors of this statement, and, to express the hope that the geosciences will take on a more important role in high school science curriculum, as they should. Way overdue.

4270:17711

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I agree with the above suggestions. In PD opps I always promote the article in NSTA's The Science Teacher by Kastens and Rivet that discusses multiple modes of inquiry in the Earth Sciences. I think the discussion above sheds light on all those aspects.

I'd like to make a suggestion for one more bullet related to teacher-ed programs. Many teacher-ed certification programs in science do not include programs for Earth Science certification (at least here in NJ!). Perhaps we can add a bullet such as:

"NAGT supports the creation and maintenance of strong teacher certification programs in the Earth Sciences."

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