John Carpenter

Recipients of Honorary Awards

John Carpenter

Award presented in Sydney, 2000 

Introduction by Ian Clark

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, it is my very great pleasure to present this award to John Carpenter. John needs little introduction. He is a founding member of this organization and its various previous incarnations and it is a tribute to his persistence of others that we are now part of what I expect to become the premier geoscience education organization.

John began teaching at the University of South Carolina more than thirty years ago. I am told by people who have worked with him that he has always been a little different, usually unconventional, sometimes outrageous, but always effective. Don Secor a colleague of John’s from USC said “John claimed that his unusual methods were necessary to gain student attention, but the real reason is that John is in fact a little bit crazy but he is smart enough to use this craziness to his advantage in the classroom.” John began at USC as a geochemist after completing his PhD and working in the US Navy’s Oceanographic Office. He was a successful researcher and a good teacher but gradually became more interested and involved in the process of effective teaching until in 1984 he convinced the University administration to let him establish the Center for Science Education. This was a brave, perhaps crazy, move because there was no guarantee of continued financial support. Then as now the Center’s primary function was to provide graduate programs in science education for in-service teachers. Under John’s leadership and with the help of a small number of dedicated colleagues the Center has developed into one of the better known geoscience education institutions. John through the Center has been instrumental in encouraging and inspiring teachers from Kindergarten to Graduate level to be innovative, student-centered educators. His graduates now teach in classrooms across the country and I suspect without exception greatly appreciate the effect he has had on them.

It is not possible in the time available to catalogue the contributions to geoscience education that John has made. It is with without doubt that he has earned this award and more significantly it is important to this fledgling organization that we have the honour of being able to present it to him.