Canavan says students should learn geology. It's called earth & environmental science
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Canavan says students should learn geology. It's called earth & environmental science

Friday's "Strike 4 Climate Action" student protests in capital cities and 20 regional centres made headlines across not just the nation, but also the world from New York to Stockholm.

But when federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan criticised the students for walking out of class, perhaps he was not across the curriculum.

Thousands of students protested in Martin Place.

Thousands of students protested in Martin Place.Credit:Nick Moir

“I want kids to be at school to learn about how you build a mine, how you do geology, how you drill for oil and gas,” he said.

But the Queensland Senator missed the fact that geology is not on the senior school curriculum of either his home state, or NSW or Victoria, where most pupils protested.

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It's called earth science in Queensland, earth and environmental science in NSW and environmental science in Victoria. And geology hasn't been on the NSW curriculum for at least a decade, or in Queensland since 2000.

Learn geology, federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan tells students.

Learn geology, federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan tells students.Credit:Glenn Hunt

Even more revealing, the sample exam for the NSW Higher School Certificate focuses on subjects as varied as volcanoes and rock formations, rather than how to build a mine or how you drill for oil and gas.

A sample question shows students are asked to question the environmental impact of mining, rather than how to carry out the process.

"Evaluate the environmental impact of modern society’s continued dependence on fossil fuels. Use examples to support your answer," the 2017 NSW HSC exam asked.

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In the 2008 HSC: "Analyse the effects of replacing electricity generated by fossil fuels with electricity generated from alternative sources."

Students were already fired up by Prime Minister Scott Morrison's dismissal of them when he said the nation needed "more learning in schools and less activism", but m.

However, many were livid when the 37-year-old Canavan said: "The best thing you'll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue."

Gone are the days however of school students even joining the dole queue straight from school, as you need to be over 22 to receive unemployment benefits, now known as New Start.

Helen Pitt is a journalist at the The Sydney Morning Herald.

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