Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Geography, building understandings

Images above: Peaceful South Korea, close to the tectonic plate which has just devastated eastern Japan.

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

Another disaster and even more footage and visualisations. As the media goes into a frenzy reporting the disaster as a type of 'infotainment', geographers consider the importance of understanding for students on the causation, impact and recovery aspects of such an event as the Japanese earthquake, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions (not to mention the nuclear issue). As always geography is the subject in the curriculum to deconstruct the event for students and to provide ways forward in understanding where to next for the people in Japan. As mentioned in a previous posting, the spontaneity of geography is critical to enable teachers to stop what is happening in the prescribed curriculum and explore the current geographical event in a non-infotainment manner. Ironically the capacity of spatial visualisations such as satellite imagery to show in dramatic form the impact of such an event just adds to the medias hook of showing events as almost a recurring science fiction event. It certainly is not and the work of geography in the classroom is to look at such an event as not only natural but quite predictable for a region such as Japan. That is not to diminish the human suffering and devastation of such an event which needs to be appreciated by us living in a tectonically stable region such as Australia. Whilst on the role of geography for 'citizen understanding' of the earth it takes me back to 2005 and the story of the 10 year British girl in Thailand who saved hundreds of peoples life’s on the beach by her geographical knowledge of tsunamis. As she said,
"Last term Mr Kearney taught us about earthquakes and how they can cause tsunamis. I was on the beach and the water started to go funny. There were bubbles and the tide went out all of a sudden. I recognised what was happening and had a feeling there was going to be a tsunami. I told mummy."

It was probably because of the UK National Curriculum for geography this girl had the opportunity to study geography to any depth and consistency. The article from the National Geographic takes the discussion of geography and understandings of such events and happenings a step further and may be of use as a hook into a story.

It is such understandings that geography can provide young people and the broader citizenry prior, during and after such an event. Can we rely on the media to do the job of geographical education as opposed to entertainment? Hopefully the creation of a geography R-10 curriculum will enhance the geographical understanding of young people.

Naturally there are heaps of sites on the Japan quake. Here are just a few at this early stage:

* Japan quake alters coastline and changes earth's axis:

* Rescue operations continue - has a link to Fukushima nuclear plant video and a heart-rendering photo album.

* The tsunami hits
* Drag the slider across to show damage

* Great satellite images of Japan Before & After

* An article with some useful links

*A Youtube on the Ring of fire put together many months ago as a teaching aid. Is this infotainment or just trying to get the message across?

* For anyone interested in the shortened day as a result of the earthquake

* The New York Times, Learning network: Great site for teaching resources on the Japanese situation.

* Finding loved ones: A practical application of spatial technology on the ground and functional . If you are looking for information on people in the quake zone, Google has opened a Person Finder page. Ushahidi a crowdsourcing mapping tool, has set up local platform for Japan that allows people in the area affected by the earthquake to text the location of people who may be trapped in damaged buildings.

* Japan quakes in past months and in real time

* An extremely informative video on the Japanese earthquake. Just on a lesson length!

* Weblinks galore on the Japanese disaster at Edutopia.

* Some amazing 360 degrees visuals of the Japanese disaster zone.

* A vast field of debris, swept out to sea following the Japan earthquake and tsunami, is floating towards the U.S. West Coast, it has emerged.

* A valuable ensemble of news videos on the Japan tsunami of 2011.

Naturally I will add to this blog posting as new links come on-line, as they will over the next few weeks.

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