Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The inquisitiveness of Geography

Spatialworlds website

Picture descriptions:
Left Image: Freeways of London.
Right image: English country scene - Suffolk..

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Why is it so?

When discussing why geography is important and the reasons it should be part of the school curriculum, the words inquisitiveness and curiosity are often mentioned. An individual will study any subject because of interest and fascination in learning but the concept of inquisitiveness runs very strongly through the history of geography. From exploration and discoveries to map making geography requires a strong desire to ask questions and find out what is (where and how) and why is it? This is not to say there are many other reasons for studying geography but the inquisitive angle of geography seems to be a core requirement for the geographer. Geography covers a wide range of learning and hence has a wide appeal to a diverse group of students. Various attempts to classify geographical knowledge and endevour into themes or branches have been undertaken over the years. These themes provide ample opportunity to cater to the needs of individuals. For example the area of geo-tourism will attract a very different individual to the one interested in geomorphology. Whilst studying people travelling around the globe is very different to learning about rocks and landscapes, what links these individuals together as geographer's is their inquisitive geographical approach when they study or work in their chosen area. This inquisitive approach involves asking key geographical questions such as:
* What is where?
* What is the distribution and shape of what is there?
* Why is what is there there?
* What surrounds what is there?
* Why is what surrounds there there?
* What is the distribution and shape of what surrounds what is there?
* What are the reasons for the distribution and shape of what surrounds?
* What are the interactions between what is there and what surrounds?
* What are the interdependencies between what is there and what surrounds?
* How and why has what is there changed or is changing in nature, distribution and
shape over time?
* What is the future projection for what is there and what surrounds?
* other pertinent geographical questions to the area of geographical endevour!!

Whilst sounding a little confusing, the key to geographical inquisitiveness is to answer such questions in relation to places and spaces. This spatial inquisitevness is at the core of the geographical approach and is what drives explorers, adventurers, researchers, writers and hopefully teachers. This inquisitivesness in the classroom should be the driving force of inquiry teaching methodologies (pedagogies) which pose questions to the students and invite them to use their geographical knowledge and skills to find answers or possible solutions. Giving students the answer without inviting inquiry only goes towards crushing student inquisitiveness and makes the subject no different to others. Geography must embrace an inquiry approach so as to model what geography is all about! Asking questions and seeking answers by exploration of place and space. Spatial technologies are the great enabler for this approach. Spatial technology and the associated data and visualisations can provide the geographer in the workforce or the student in the geography classroom with information on places and patterns/trends across space that can answer the geographical questions developed.

The natural inquisitivenes of students when studying geography must be fed by asking the questions; what? where? why?, when? how? what if? and so what? when studying any of the geographical areas/themes.

No comments: