WEST HALL ROOM THREE-OH-SEVEN—Following an underwhelming discussion section last Wednesday, EARTH 105 GSI Al Hammond decided to abandon his strategy of downplaying his passion for all things igneous and sedimentary, allowing the students to discover the “majesty” of rocks on their own.
Initially, Hammond had thought that the natural splendor and complexity of the Earth’s lithosphere would “practically sell itself.” Now, however, he concedes that his students may still need some convincing.
“So it’s the start of section,” he said, “and I walk into the classroom holding a basalt the size of a melon. A melon. Coming in with that kind of extrusive volcanic rock, I’m wondering if I’ll even be able to mention granite after all the buzz that’s sure to follow.”
“But five minutes go by, and not a single one of them says a thing. They acted like I’d just strolled in with a three- ounce pumice! That’s when I knew things had to change around here.”
Hammond, who learned the merits of “playing it cool” about rocks from various social gatherings and ex- girlfriends, began the semester with the intent of understating his own unbridled enthusiasm for all things petrological, thereby allowing his students to engage passionately with the lessons without his prompting.
“Usually I try to be impartial in my classes. It’s important for students to form their own opinions about our course material. But at this point, I think it’s time I really let them know just how neat rocks are,” Hammond continued.
At press time, Hammond was tidying up his workspace in anticipation of all the students certain to show up during his 9 a.m. Friday office hour.
Originally Published: October 2014