Education

Why no geology in Plus Two?

Great appeal: Digital technology meets ancient science.

Great appeal: Digital technology meets ancient science.  

Field visits and data-collation skills will help students think independently

“Geology is one of the branches of natural sciences and is the scientific study of the Earth. Why is this branch of science not offered for study in +2 across the country?” asks Dr. R. Sivakumar, Head and Associate Professor, Department of Geology, Presidency College, Chennai.

Schools in Tamil Nadu teach traces of geology in geography classes, he points out. Chapters in geography deal with types of rocks, river sediment and distribution of mineral deposits. But Earth Science has seen better understanding coupled with multiple discoveries in recent years, he says.

“The reach of geology today goes way beyond what is being taught as part of secondary school geography curriculum. Digital technology has facilitated satellite imaging of the earth and space, dating processes and field work. This marriage of digi-tech to the ancient science of picking rocks should have great appeal to our high-schoolers. Study of geology in schools can no longer be delayed,” he says. It involves deep research — online, in classrooms, in far-off fields. A curriculum-based on online and field research develops independent thinking, good field-study practices, data-collation skills and inference abilities of students at their most impressionable age.

A well-designed geology syllabus for high-school can incorporate lessons on environment, history of earth’s surface, chemistry of rock formation, physics of climate impact on earth. Geology lessons call for the application of the mind — on maths to biology to language. It is a complete curriculum by itself.

The view that one has to go for PhD to satisfy a research-seeking mind is flawed, says Dr. Sivakumar. Teens now put together robots, drones and satellites. “This compels us to recognise student ability to understand and implement complex scientific processes at a younger age than previously recognised.”

Great progress has been made in instrumentation and application of scientific knowledge, he points out. “So teaching levels — methods of imparting knowledge in schools need constant review. High-school teaching must open up new avenues of thoughts for the students.”

Advantages

1. It enhances the ability of students to identify, grasp, analyse and report geological processes and contribute data for further enquiry.

2. Students will recognise meteorites, contamination of groundwater and fluorosis, slope stability and creep, gems and precious stones, mineral occurrence and mining, and environment. For example, a visit to Neyveli will teach them conservation of earth-material by back-filling. Exploration of the Charnockite monument in St Thomas Mount, Chennai, will familiarise them with preservation of places of geological interest.

3. Understanding of geological phenomena is bound to unearth the curiosity of students when they come across earthy objects on way to school, on vacation, during a museum-visit, or at building construction sites. Isn’t creating interest and thereby advancing knowledge one of the objectives of all teaching?

“We request authorities to include geology in the school curriculum, a subject already offered in classes XI and XII with various combinations both in Science and Humanities groups,” said Dr. Sivakumar. “School Boards of Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur and Rajasthan have introduced geology in +2. Can we expect geology in the +2 curriculum of Tamil Nadu in the next academic year (2018-19)?”

Do not miss

• Geology encompasses Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Allows experimentation on natural objects for fossil content, crystal form, magnetism, hardness, colour, reflection and chemical reaction with water and weak acids (vinegar).

• Knowledge of fossils, minerals, rocks and map-reading empowers school students to explore the surroundings in a pattern similar to the adventures of finding plant/animal species.

• Identifying meteorites, gems and precious stones, fossils may provide impetus for collection and preservation of natural objects akin to stamp collection.

• With advanced tech-tools like table-top seismographs, schools may attempt yearly data-collection on seismic activity in India and across the globe.

• Microscopic examinations of rocks and minerals will bring to children the brilliance of crystals, of play of colours of minerals under reflected light.

• Awareness of groundwater contamination and resultant fluorosis in such cases may alert school students about drinking water quality.

• Early awareness of natural resources through geological study will improve the prospects of preserving them for posterity. Study of minerals at school level will help students understand the origin, occurrence and distribution of minerals, river sand, oil, gas, coal and groundwater.

• Modern technology is progressing towards remote-sensing techniques, new geographic information systems. Geology is a subject of global interest and hence its career scope extends worldwide.

• Sustainable preservation of geo-environment and proper utilisation of our natural resources have to be inculcated in the young minds from school level onwards so that it becomes a habit throughout life.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 1:47:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/why-no-geology-in-plus-two/article23934680.ece

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