Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by The Geological Society

  The Society's evidence focuses on those issues with a direct geological context. The Society recognises that there are a number of other matters of significance but notes that these fall outside its area of professional coverage.

  The Society welcomes the inquiry by the House of Commons Select Committee and would like to highlight its concerns about the content of the science curriculum and provision for the teaching of Earth Science within the curriculum.

    —  The main concern is that specialists in biology, physics or chemistry who have themselves had little or no geology education, generally teach the Earth Science element. They may rely on textbooks, many of which are out of date, oversimplified or contain errors.

    —  Geology is primarily a practical subject and it is often this practical side (with fieldtrips etc) that really enthuses the children. Further reduction in time available in the classroom (due to continued overloading of the curriculum), lack of confidence or willingness of teachers (eg concerns about safety issues and responsibilities) and a reduction in the number of laboratory technicians, will serve to reduce the practical teaching of geology and science. This may have a knock-on effect, with fewer choosing to continue with their geological studies beyond school.

    —  A basic understanding of mathematics is necessary for the study of geology. On a positive note, numeracy hour is now well-established as part of the curriculum in primary schools and children who have benefited from this will soon be reaching the 14-19 age range. This basic grounding should serve to reduce negative feelings among children for example that "maths is difficult" and "you can't do science without maths".

  The Society would like to offer its expertise to help advise on resources and assistance that is available to teachers and pupils and give positive input to curriculum discussions where appropriate.

February 2002

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