Saturday, July 4, 2009

Actioning Geography

Spatialworlds website

Picture descriptions:
Images: From within the Royal Geographical Society building, Kensington, London: The heart of Geography.

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

Geography for the 21st Century

It is an interesting time for geography in Australia with the growing profile of geography as a result of the work of the National Curriculum Board. As mentioned in a previous blog, the Australian Geography Teachers' Association (AGTA), has been pro-active with other Australian geography associations/societies in ensuring that geography has been identified as a discipline to be developed as part of phase 2 of the National Curriculum due to be implemented in 2012. To support the work of the National Curriculum Board, AGTA, the Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) and the Royal Geographical Society (RGSQ) in October 2008 established the 'Towards a National Geography Curriculum'(TNGC) project. On June 30th 2009 the TNGC project handed over to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) their report. This report, by leading geography educators in Australia in consultation with geography teachers across Australia over the past six months has been written to inform ACARA about the views of geography educators prior to the commencement of their work in developing the National Geography Curriculum. The report is a synthesis of the latest geographical educational research across the world, Australian curriculum documents and views gleaned from geographers at forums across Australia in 2008/09. The report has attempted to provide a coherent view on a geographical definition, procedural knowledge, pedagogical approaches in geography, curriculum structures, conceptual understandings in geography and implementation strategies. In 2009 ACARA is planning to develop a Position Paper on geography, appoint an advisory panel and curriculum writer and conduct consultation forums.
AGTA looks forward to this work and the opportunities the process provides to increase the profile of geography via the development of a national geography curriculum for 21st Century Australia.
It is interesting that what we are going through at the moment is similar to what geography in schools has recently undergone in the United Kingdom. When I was London in April this year I was privileged to spend a day at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London. As well as enjoying the company of Dr Rita Gardner and her team I also learnt in detail about the efforts of the RGS to re-invigorate geography in the UK via their Action Plan. The Plan includes:
1. Chartered Geographers
2. Geography Ambassadors
3. Key Stage 3 resources
4. Virtual fieldwork and local learning
The website ‘Geography Teaching Today’ has been developed as part of the Action Plan for Geography to provide a single point of web-based communication and information sharing.
The UK Geographical Association is leading on other areas of the Action Plan.

To support the work with the National Geography Curriculum, AGTA is also involved in other initiatives which will provide opportunities for geography teachers and students to be involved in the renewal of geography in Australia. As well as the National Geography work the coming months will see AGTA:
1.Continuing to support the work of the RGSQ with the Australian Geography Competition initiative and the World Olympiad.
2.Geography promotions
b.Big Week Out
c.AGTA Awards
a.Geo-Careers website
b.Teacher orientated AGTA website
4.Professional Development and resources:
a.AGTA Conference
b.Key Skills publications
c.Geographical Education
d.Geographia newsletter
5.Making links with National and International Geographical Education bodies
a.Membership of NEF/SSI/IAG/AFSSSE/IGU/IAG etc
b.Formal relationship with other geography associations i.e RGS, HKGS
6.Introducing 21st Technology into the geography classroom
via workshops and Industry liaison with the Spatial Science Institute,
7.Geography Teaching Standard project with Melbourne University
8.Beginning Geography teacher programme
(Primary teachers and those between pre-service and experienced)
9 Marketing Geography
a.Australian Geographic liaison
b.Jon Dee’s 'Do something' initiative

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