Why I hate being called Mrs. Higgins (by my students)

This is a rant. Though it is a rant that I suspect many women in the sciences can relate to.

I teach at a university. I have a Ph.D. My title, then, is properly “Dr. Higgins.” I am not a professor, not adjunct, not tenure-track, so technically I shouldn’t be called “Professor Higgins,” but it happens and I let it go. Continue reading

Mendon Ponds Park – A Preview

This one I’m writing as a preview for my introductory geology students. This week, we’ll be running field trips out to Mendon Ponds Park to look at glacial geology and to practice reading topographic maps. There will also be a bit of rock identification going on too.

Today I took my son and we went on the hike that my students will be taking throughout the week. We had to make sure the trails were clear.

And of course we brought our cameras. Continue reading

Deep End First, or Baby Steps?

It’s a conundrum. How do you teach someone something that’s very complicated? That requires a lot of skill and finesse? How do you teach this in a way that gets the job done and keeps the student engaged and interested?

I’ve learned a lot of difficult things over the years. I’ve had different instructors teaching me the same thing, but in radically different ways. And there are merits to the various ways that I’ve been taught. I suppose, in the end, what works is as much dependent upon the instructor as it is upon the student. Continue reading

Cleavage … and Fracture

Did that catch your eye?

Yes, this is a geology post. I’m thinking about cleavage because it came up in class today. I would really like to do a demonstration of cleavage by smashing a calcite crystal to bits in front of the class. Don’t think that’s going to happen, alas.

But since I was thinking about it, I thought I’d write about it. So… Continue reading

The Size and Age of the Universe

As I prepare for my fourth semester of teaching introductory geology, I remember that the first couple of lectures usually throw me. I decided to prepare in advance for the moments I look at my notes and have no idea where I was going.

Yes, kids, it happens. I am not an expert in everything that might ought to be covered in an introductory geology classes. Sometimes I get flummoxed when I’m lecturing about things that are not within my realm of expertise. Continue reading

Mental Health Days

My appointment at the university where I work is a strange one. I’m not faculty. My title is not professor. But I do most of the same things that professors have to do: I teach, do research, write papers, submit grant proposals. Things I don’t have to do are: advise graduate students, go to faculty meetings, and worry about getting enough grant money and publications to get tenure. Continue reading