This month’s Accretionary Wedge topic is “Back to School”, hosted by Anne Jefferson.
Anne has asked us to share “about the things that we don’t often learn or teach in school but that may turn out to be quite important in the real world” as geology students / professors / professionals / enthusiasts.
I have got deep reflections on the topic, not only as a geologist practicing outside the academia, but also as a student who is still attending a post-grad school. There are so many things that we should have learnt, or qualities or personality to be developed. My boss always says that he wish his subordinates to “be passionate about the subject (geology)” and “be creative” or “love to do fieldwork” etc.. These are all true, but I would like to share here two things that, I believe, are important.
The first quality is daring to challenge to old school of thoughts. Students or scholars from the western world may find it quite common to challenge their bosses or supervisors. However, in the Chinese culture, we are not accustomed to dispute with someone who is more senior or more experienced, or to question ideas which were established by some old, emeritus professors. Daring to challenge others, and be able to defend your own idea, to me, is a paramount important thing here.
I have learnt my lesson when I was doing my MPhil back in 2003. My research topic was a controversial issue over the origin of a rock unit. After three years of investigation, I came up with an interpretation which basically disagree with what a well-respected and experienced geologist has believed. So, I put my findings and interpretation in my thesis. But I was not brave enough at that time to publicly defend my own idea. Looking back, I regret this a lot. Because some unhappy events subsequently occurred, which could have been prevented.
The second important thing is “always be prepared to learn new thing“. To be honest, I always think that I have not learnt enough about geology. Sometimes, I just feel I know so little, that makes me very anxious. The reason is partly because geology is such a broad subject, and new ideas come up everyday. The truth is, we always have new things to learn in geology. This is why this subject is so exciting and fun. Passion is the driving force, but getting ready to be a life-long learner is also needed. This is also to do with getting ready to accept new challenges. So, I have not stopped learning yet, not until the end of my day.