Now, its neither my job as a TA to recruit new majors, nor is it my desire. I firmly believe you should pursue what you are most passionate about. But what I cannot understand is how students can hear about all the amazing things this planet holds and remain apathetic. Perhaps it is the nature of the college student stuck in a lab on a Thursday afternoon. Perhaps the word "science" scares students and they don't want to delve any deeper than they have to for fear of getting in over their heads.
However, I think its extremely important that every student that passes through even and introductory course in Geology should come away with some knowledge of Earth, something they didn't know before or were misinformed of before, something that they can apply to a real life situation.
I wish my position would put me in the position of lecturing rather than a lab instructor. I feel I could relate geological topics more closely with everyday situations.
Here at Auburn, and at many schools, intro Geology labs start of with several weeks of mineral and rock identification. While this sounds like the most fun I could have in 2 hours, its a tedious task of memorization of weird names and no real facts. I do my best as an instructor to tell my students what role minerals and rocks play in our everyday lives so that maybe the sample they're holding becomes more than a chunk of "this rock". (My favorite is telling them about the uses for Kaolinite, especially in fast food shakes!) But, do they remember anything?
I very much would like to see collegiate Geology classes take a more "real life" approach to the lessons. We live on this planet. Geologists, especially those who instruct, should be making every effort to bring the science to everyone. Everyone needs to know at least the basics of the the planet they live on.
The lessons I teach are great, but they only serve to teach what they need to know to pass the test at the end of the term. They aren't designed, not in any real way, to enforce the concepts of Geology and Earth Science for everyday life.
For instance, knowing more about groundwater processes may help a future homeowner be more efficient when getting a well drilled or knowing more about bedrock and karst topography could help a future home builder put their house on a safe place. I know some of the professors here at Auburn DO try to show real life geology in their lectures. I'm covering for my adviser later this week covering all the things you can do and study as a geologist. This is good, but these students don't want to be geologists. But they do need to know about how they will encounter Geology in their lives.
I know instructors can only do so much to get students excited about something that isn't their major, but as important as all the sciences are, I feel Geology is the one no one can ever avoid. Of course, I haven't been teaching for ages, myself. So I would love to hear from others who teach geology and what you have found to be both effective and engaging teaching methods that hopefully give the students something to take with them beyond just the Geology classroom.