A geologist in law enforcement

Michael Pirrung

Two lectures on plate tectonics in jail - is that a crazy idea? No, I think, and try it out. Mediated by a further education measure of my wife, a teacher of the prison contacts the institute and books me after exchange of some e-mails in the offer "Rent a Prof" - for me a question of the honor that I would like to take part in it. Even though an uncertain feeling spreads through me in the hours before the event - what have you gotten yourself into? While waiting on the platform shreds of an announcement - "is cancelled due to overhead damage" - so I pack the bike and jump on the next train, which stops one stop earlier than desired reasonably close to the destination. In the train no cell phone reception, I try to figure out how to get from there to the destination, no chance. Relief when the friendly customer service representative checks the operational information system - my train is not affected. I change trains and after a few kilometers of cycling with laptop bag and backpack I am in front of my destination - security glass, many cameras, barbed wire similar to Nato wire, a lecture venue can hardly be more repellent. The reception drags on, some are in front of me. I hand in my ID card, I am allowed to take my laptop and visual aids inside - which is only possible thanks to the dedicated preparation of the teacher, Mrs. Martin. A friendly welcome, we take a look at the lecture room, I sort out my material. Then another cup of coffee and the adventure begins with the main school class.

Windows are barred, of course. Fortunately, most of the scheduled participants are there, all of them young men. Friendly greeting by the nine participants with the wish to complete the secondary school diploma, then I start. Only a few dm in front of me sits a student, pondering the
I do not ponder the reasons for his presence. Very soon the first question comes. And the next. I am surprised by so many questions and try to explain as well as I can. And it comes through, you can see it in the faces. Sometimes a bit surprising questions. I ignore no one's
I ignore no one's outstretched arm and take a long time. Too long? It actually goes quite well and the 5 minute break gives short-term relaxation from the flow of speech. But also an impression of the group dynamics, the language quickly becomes loud and rough in front of the classroom, I'm not used to something like that.

Then the second lesson, as well as possible with practical demonstrations, what are for example P- and what are S-waves, signal transmission in walls comes to mind and you can illustrate something with the pointing stick. With few aids like a jute bag pushed together and the
crackling when breaking blackboard chalk, it is illustrated what happens in fold mountains and at disturbances. I chose the pictures in such a way that from my point of view only highlights can be seen, the brutal effect of a quake, one of the most aesthetic volcanoes. Then the task of explaining why all this is happening, where the energy to move the plates comes from. I just make it to the second to last slide, then the first double lesson is over. Lunch is short, we get the same as the "residents", but stay among ourselves. Afterwards the second class, Realschule this time, same program, some additional slides, there is a lot of writing. And the storm of questions is enormous, hardly a minute without a question, it's exhausting. At a question about black holes I have to refer to physics and the answer to an abstruse question I have to keep short. In the end, I only manage to get through the material with difficulty. And then it is over. I am relieved. I am glad when I can leave the building and step into the sunlight. And grateful for this experience, the super preparation of both the bureaucratic procedures and the attunement of the students by the extremely dedicated teaching staff.

Even if it will be very difficult for them after their release. And society is not very interested in this population group, keywords e.g. job cuts, shortage of skilled workers,... and - how does someone get an apartment, a job afterwards? But I know - here you want to come back to share your expertise with young people in the hope that at least some of them will get a second chance and use it.