Monday, May 10, 2010

A New Thing Learned

This morning we had an overview of plate tectonics for the interpretive staff. The material was not new for me, but I appreciated a good review and it was presented well by the chief of interpretation. I am always glad to learn a thing or two - it gave me some insight about how to conduct my own formal programs which will of course involve the geology of VTTS. OK - I have just let you in on the secret code for Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

Geologic concepts can be quite confusing for the non-geologist. Even with popular Discovery channel programs and NOVA on PBS and such, I find there is a real disconnect between what people think they know and what they really do know. Today I had a revelation about this. If the college-educated seasonal interpretive staff has such a hard time understanding such concepts as plate tectonics, what about the visitors who arrive at Katmai and come to my geology program? How much do they really understand beforehand about basic concepts? How far must I go in explaining these concepts before I even get to interpreting the geology of VTTS so that they can derive their own personal meaning from their park expeprience?

At Cedar Breaks National Monument last summer, I generally asked people if they understood what plate tectonics is before I started with my interpretive talks. Most nodded, but now I wonder... What did they really know? I think that people think they understand scientific ideas and theories in a general way, but when asked to define an idea or theory they are hard pressed to do so. I know, because that's the way I was, before I went back to school to get my degree in geology.

This is not to demean anyone's intelligence. I have taken just another step in my own learning process of being a park service interpreter.

A book arrived in the mail today, from MY TRAVEL AGENT! "Alaska" by James Michener is now on my reading list for the summer.

Thanks, Spindle Bomb Bro!

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