Geology Education, Gordon Neighbour @CornubiaGeol: A Day in the GeoLife Series

geology education

Gordon Neighbour, Geology Educator, Torquay Girls’ Grammar School, in Torquay, southwest England

NAME:  Gordon Neighbour

CURRENT TITLE:  Head of Careers, Head of Geology, Head of Computing and IT and International Schools Officer at Torquay Girls’ Grammar School, in Torquay, southwest England

AREA OF EXPERTISE:  Geology, career, computing and IT education. I am on the Education Committee of the Geological Society of London, a member of the Panel of Experts on Education for the European Federation of Geologists.  I am also the Conference Liaison Officer for the Earth Science Teachers Association.


EDUCATION:  I have been involved with Geology Education since 2004. I gained my degree with the Open University (Geology in 1998) and have always enjoyed learning about our fantastic planet.


TWITTER: @CornubiaGeol

What’s your job like?

Working in a secondary school in the United Kingdom (UK) means that the job is really varied. I have the opportunity to spend time teaching subjects I really enjoy and making our students aware of the multitude of opportunities available to them. I have been responsible for running a project between four schools located in France, Italy and the UK through the ERASMUS+ European Project program called, “Developing Seismology – Teaching Seismology in Schools,” where we have been enabling students to design and build their own seismometers. Teaching geology and chemistry means I have a great opportunity to let students find out about the world around them.

What’s a typical day like?

A typical day? I am not sure there ever is one. I can be working with students anywhere between 11 and 19 years old. I have a tutor group of sixth form students (aged 17 to 19 years old), and it is an amazing thought that I am able to help them think about their futures with some of them wishing to pursue a whole area of different sciences (including geology)! I will teach anything between 3 and 6 one-hour lessons in a day, which can be computer programming or chemistry and best of all, on some days, geology!

What’s fun?

The most exciting thing about teaching is that no one day is the same! I really enjoy teaching students and instilling in them the importance of fieldwork, modeling in the geosciences, and probably most important of all, is helping them think like geoscientists. This is so important. I am able to teach them a subject that is so varied and so important to so many aspects of life – what an amazing opportunity. Being involved in running and setting up projects between schools is so exciting! I am currently running a project called, “Volcanoes: Past, Present and Future – Understanding Geohazards” with schools in Italy, Greece and the UK. It is so good to video-conference and share ideas between different schools.

What’s challenging?

The only frustration is the lack of time to do everything. I have been working on a project looking at flooding and the only challenge is having the time to complete everything.

What’s your advice for students?

Enjoy everything that you do! Make use of all the opportunities that are given to you and really strive for what you want!


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