Full disclosure: a bit of cheating was involved in today’s post. The book I’d been reading was The Geology of Britain, and the noun in question was metamorphic rock. Okay, it should have been just rock, but I wanted something a bit more interesting. In fact, I was hoping for volcanoes. Instead, when I plugged the term into Google, the image below was third in line:
It reminded me of a grade school lesson plan, and the story of Mrs. C., the history teacher drafted to teach earth science, was born.
With a snap, the point broke off my pencil. I flung it across the room, then I glanced about to make sure no one had seen my little outburst. It was pretty early to be in class, even for me, but one never knew when a stray student or miscellaneous academic would wander in.
I dropped my head into my hands, and massaged my temples. These lesson plans were driving me nuts, and I was at my wit’s end. Due to the unholy trinity of early retirement, a new school opening in the same district, and a little scandal we’d been ordered not to speak of, I had ended up as the new seventh grade earth science teacher. It wasn’t that I didn’t like science—or the earth, for that matter—but I’m a history teacher. I can tell you all about the important events that happened around a particular rock, but not about the rocks themselves.
My kids, however, were wonderful. Never before had I come across so many bright, eager students. Their enthusiasm to learn about the world around them simultaneously made me proud, and sick to my stomach. I needed to be a better teacher, in order to give them the education they both wanted and deserved.
To that end, I had gone out and purchased a few used textbooks, did some online researching, and tried to reinvent myself as a scientist. I had even picked up a copy of Geology for Dummies; if the shoe fits. And, while I could now describe with confidence the different between igneous and metamorphic rocks, there was still something missing.
I was missing something, that crucial bit that would make all this nonsense come together.
I sighed, and got up to retrieve my pencil. It had rolled under a cabinet that I’d yet to open; hey, it’s only the third week of the school, and the last earth science teacher—the one with the aforementioned scandal—was a Grade A packrat. I figured before class on a Tuesday morning was as good a time to explore as any, so I looked inside.
It was an earth science treasure trove.
There were countless trays of rock samples, organized by hardness, color, location, and a myriad other ways. Underneath was a box of fossils, ranging from simple imprints of ferns to trilobites. Even I knew about trilobites. Another box held all sorts of tools, and yet another was stuffed full of rolled-up maps. Behind everything, on a shallow shelf, were dozens of well-worn field guides.
“Hey, Mrs. C. Whatcha got there?”
I looked up, and saw that my students were trickling in. They’d found their teacher sprawled on the floor, surrounded by dusty rocks and fossils. It was then that I realized I was smiling.
I glanced at the window; it was a bright, sunny day. The perfect day for young minds to go off on an adventure.
“Who here wants to find out what geologists really do?” I asked as I stood. Each and every student raised their hands; like I said, my kids are awesome.
“Everyone grab a field guide. Today, we’re going outside.”