Saturday, October 6, 2018

School of Rock

     Big mistake.
      I thought I'ld take a quick look at my school tax bill. Unfortunately, I wasn't sitting down. I remember letting out a gasp, saying "Holy..." and then everything went black. 
     It could have gone either way, but I guess it just wasn't my time yet. After heroic effort they were able to resuscitate me. Now, my doctors in consultation with the bank's loan officer give me a guarded prognosis of eventual recovery. But it will be a long road, they caution, with lots of tough financial therapy.
     Yes, it's that time of year when our big-box educational system is once again gobbling up children and sending out invoices for the privilege.
     Don't get me wrong. I'm all for learning. After all, that's what this blog is about - learning about and developing a relationship with place. It's just that I've always been wary of anything big. Big government, big corporations, bit unions, etc. Big wants to get bigger and it tends to use its size and power to butter its own bread. Does the meta-sizing of the public education system necessarily benefit students and society at large? I'm not so sure. And don't get me going about expensive, astro-turfed and night-lighted football fields. Given what we know of injuries and concussions, why is there such a thing as high school football anyway? To give the girls something to cheer about? Come on.
     That said, I have great respect for our best teachers and the difference they can make in a kid's life. The Schuylerville system well prepared my daughter for a demanding university environment where many of the other students came from elite prep school backgrounds. And I often think how fortunate young people from small, rural Cambridge Central are to have had mentors like Howard Romack and Steve Butz.

Steve Butz with students at Shays' Settlement - VPR image

     A recent Vermont Public Radio story on Butz's archeological field school at Shays' Settlement quoted student Alice Roosevelt, "I think it's just really interesting to find new things and just figure out what happened in our history..." Steve and Alice would agree: hands on learning wins hands down.

Alice in woodland - troweling for artifacts at Shays' Settlement - VPR image

     That's why I wanted to inform you about an upcoming opportunity for hands on learning in the natural sciences. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 12 - 14, the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference and the New York State Geological Association will be holding a joint meeting based at the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George Village. Don't let the word 'meeting' put you (or your kids) off. This is three days of field trips throughout the Adirondacks, Taconics and Green Mountains with lots of rock, fresh air and fun. 

     The trips range from near the Canadian border to deep in the Adirondacks and as far south as Massachusetts. Several trips visit sites in Washington County. Typically they involve car pooling between a number of stops where the professors and scientists will talk about their research and recent findings. All while standing next to an outcrop. You can put your nose to the rock, ask questions and listen to lively give and take between geologists.

     Many of the participants are college students majoring in geology but everyone is welcome. It's a great way to introduce high school students to the field and allows them to interact with peers who have started down an earth sciences career path. On previous trips I've been impressed by how friendly, energetic and engaged everyone is.

Examining a black diabase dike along Rt. 4 

     Full conference details including trip itineraries and contact information can be found here. If the cows cooperate I plan to attend with my own questions and curiosity. Hope to see you there. 


Get Schooled...

     Who knew? I found out that there is an actual School of Rock with a location in nearby Latham (near Albany). I'm not sure how many parents want their kids to join a rock band but if your tyke prefers a guitar axe to a rock hammer here's the place. And check out this version of Gimme Shelter by School of Rock students. Not quite Keith, Mick and Merry Clayton but pretty darn good.

     It's a small world. Turns out there is also a movie titled School of Rock. I haven't seen it but Richard Linklater's 2003 comedy looks like fun. It stars Jack Black causing havoc as both a musician and teacher. After a hard day of traipsing from outcrop to ledge and back you might want to relax in the evening with some laughs and music. Watching School of Rock  might be just the ticket. 

Rock and Road - Limestone along Rt. 40



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