On “Earth sciences and public schools”



Earlier this year, Robert Kitchen (Eos, 87(24), 235,2006) drew attention to declining interest in Earth science education in public schools. The reason for a lack of interest in teaching Earth sciences in public schools may involve more than just the attitudes of parents who may wish for their children a better preparation for advanced placement courses later on. Part of the problem may lie with our present mind-set that technology can solve all the world's problems, from poverty, to better health, and to prosperity.

Underlying this mindset is an implicit belief in the primacy of the physical sciences. A corollary is that Earth sciences do not have an independent existence within human knowledge, but exist merely as an adjunct to physical-mathematical sciences. Given sufficient time, and bigger computers, it is believed, science can and will know everything there is to know about the Earth. This perception probably has an influence on school administrators who feel that students need a demanding curriculum, comprising rigorous training in the physical sciences.