Monday, June 7, 2010

Putting Geography on the Map: The UK experience

Left image: April 2010 GA Conference in Derby UK
Right image:Stonehenge, Salisbury, UK.

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Email contact

Where am I?

Sydney: S: 34º 0' E: 151º 0'

On April I was fortunate to travel to Derby in the UK to attend the Geography Associations (GA) annual conference. What a wonderful experience to meet such a wide range of geography teachers and to experience the magnitude of this annual event. In this posting I will just select some of the gems of quotes, websites and impression I gleaned from this two day event.
The conference was held at Derby University and was the home to over 300 teachers for the duration of the conference. The size and capacity of an organisation such as the GA means that the level of support they provide geography teachers in the UK is beyond anything we cold dream about in Australia. Having said that, organisations such as AGTA and it affiliates in each state do a wonderful job in supporting quality geography teaching and geography teachers. As you may know, the GA in association with the Royal Geographical Society in the UK have had a huge infusion of government funds over recent years via the Geography Action Plan. Components of this plan we should consider as we develop our own plan in Australia to support the development and implementation of the Australian Curriculum in Geography. AGTA is presently lobbying the Australian Government with ideas and strategies to support professional learning for teachers in Australia. Most importantly the opportunity provided by attending the conference allowed me to talk to key players in the UK national curriculum such as Professor David Lambert and Dr Rita Gardner.
Over the course of the conference several quotes and references from people such as David and Rita resonated with me and I feel should be incorporated into our work on the Australian Curriculum: geography over the coming years. Here are some of my observations:

* The catch cry of geography promotion: “Putting Geography on the Map” . (David Lambert keynote title, Derby 2010). Corny but says it all! Here are some other quotes from David’s GA keynote April 2010
* “Geography is about stimulating a sense of wonder about places.”
* “Geography is one of humanities "BIG IDEAS”
* “Geographers are experts in global dimensions.”
* “ A key role of geographical education is to promote social and community cohesion through understanding of the human and physical world. Does this approach resonate better than talk of geography promoting citizenship?
* “Sell learning geographically and not just geography.”
* Geography is about what is where? Why is it there? what if? and so what?

Here are some other information/ideas/sites I gleaned from the conference:

* Beware of the “Death Geographies!” The geographies of the doomsdayers.
* “How does thinking geographies help us live?
* “To see that geography is beyond atlas’s, places and colouring-in!”
* The “Geography Teaching Today” is a website full of teaching ideas for primary and secondary.
* The concept of “curriculum making” instead of “curriculum taking”. Incredibly pertinent to the role out of the Australian curriculum I geography in 2012
* Making Geography happen: Making Geography Happen is an Action Plan funded project about good quality, innovative curriculum-making. It focuses on the work done by students in geography lessons and how this contributes to their wider understanding of the world.
* The UK Geography “Action Plan” – can we do a similar thing in Australia, albeit on a smaller scale.
* “The Action Plan emphasises ‘curriculum making’ as a creative professional process.“
* The “Geography Manifesto – “A Different View” is an interesting sitedeveloped by the GA which provides the blueprint for geography in the UK. A Different View is a manifesto from the Geographical Association. It makes a compelling case for geography's place in the curriculum. But the world changes, and so does the curriculum. A Different View, and the supporting materials on this website, are designed to be used in any context where geography is taught, explained, encouraged or promoted. Free accompanying resources and photographs can be downloaded from this site.
* Simon Catling’s Work are worthy of consideration. The children’s world is actually 10 worlds (Simon Catling 1992). In his book Simon indentifies 10 World of the child. They are:
• action world
• perceived world
• people world
• information world
• competence world
• valued world
• imaginary world
• source world
• future world
• commitment world.
Considering these worlds of a child, what do they mean to the way we select content, classroom pedagogy and the conceptualization of the curriculum for students. It can be argued to varying extents that these worlds apply to all students regardless of age.
* The big ideas of geography includes Place, Space and Scale.
* Think-talk-solve-act-global
An initiative to help to teach about some of the world's biggest poverty related challenges. In its pilot stage, the network includes teaching resources and a forum for you to meet and collaborate with other education professionals
* Thinking geographically:
Whether you are interested in primary, middle or secondary education, you will find something useful and enriching on this site.
* The GA is an independent charity with a core objective of furthering the learning and teaching of geography. The GA promoThe GA is an independent charity with a core objective of furthering the learning and teaching of geography. The GA promotes and supports geography teaching by producing acclaimed resources for teachers, holding quality CPD events and lobbying government. GA supports geography teaching by producing acclaimed resources for teachers, holding quality CPD events and lobbying government.
* Spatial literacy: an interesting PowerPoint to help clarify it’s role on geography
* The ABC of Spatial literacy – an interesting article
* Mission explore Misson Explore is a project to engage (young) people with geography through playful and thought provoking missions.
* Independent Thinking is one of UK's leading providers of people, knowledge, ideas and inspiration to help make a genuine and lasting difference to education.
* Spatial literacy in primary schools
* A quest for spatial literacy
* A bit of fun for geography classes: Mat dancing around the world Youtube. Where is Mat now –dancing where??

Finally I would like to thank the GA for their support facilitating the process for me to present a workshop at their great conference and to participate in the associated events. Great food for thought for us in Australia interested and involved in introducing an Australian Curriculum for geography.

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