Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Disaster, what disaster?

Images: Paris from the Eiffel Tower.

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'

Inquiring on disasters

In the last post I mentioned the recently published resource from DECS in South Australia titled, 'Understanding and responding to Natural Disasters' resource which employed inquiry questions to help student construct their understanding of the recent natural disasters across the globe.

The resource has been developed on the premise that:

“News images of disaster zones can have lasting effects on even the youngest children, according to an expert at the University of Western Sydney, who says children up to the age of 10 have not yet learnt to distance themselves from the distress of others, while most adults can choose to "switch off” their feeling state. The repetition of the same images greatly increases the chance it will negatively affect a child, as the reinforcement carries it deeper into their psyche. In these situations, it is recommended that parents acknowledge the issue and express sadness for the people affected”.
Quake images can shake a young child's psyche, The Age, 17 March 2011

Due to this view the resource sets out to provide guidance for parents, teachers and schools, with well considered geographcial inquiry questions and up-to-date resources to supprot student learning and understandings on the extent, nature and impact of disasters.

"To focus student inquiry regarding regional disasters, a range of inquiry questions were developed. The questions are predominately generic in nature (not only relating to the 2011 Japanese disaster) and provided opportunities for students to investigate the nature, causation and impact of regional disasters. Of special note is that several of the inquiry questions encourage students to explore the role of media in such events and the nature and likelihood of regional disasters in Australia.

In the resource, under each of the questions there are numerous Internet sites to provide guidance and information for student and teacher investigation. I have only hyperlinked one of these in this posting. To get the full listing just go to the DECS website.


What qualifies an event as a regional disaster?

What are possible regional disasters that can occur on planet Earth?

Are all regional disasters natural?

What causes earthquakes and tsunamis of the magnitude that recently hit Japan?

Could Australia be hit by an earthquake or tsunami of the magnitude experienced recently by Japan?

What regional disasters are most likely to occur in Australia?

What are the global impacts of regional disasters?

Are all places on the earth at the same risk of a disaster?

Are there different ways people respond to regional disasters?

How has the world responded to recent regional disasters?

What is involved in the recovery stage following a disaster?

During the rebuilding stage following a disaster are there measures that can be taken to reduce the impact of such events in the future?

How does media inform and impact on our understanding and view of a disaster?

Additional weblinks which may support the above inquiries


Organisations supporting the response to and understanding of regional disasters

* Global Education Centre
* AusAID
* World Vision
* Red Cross
* Australian Red Cross
* Save The Children
* CARE Australia
* Oxfam Cool Planet for Teachers
* United Nations

An intersting footnote to this posting is the 13/4/11 article in the Age newspaper in Australia. The Age article is on climate change and earthquakes and discusses the research which links the two. An interesting debate to follow - many of us I am sure have been wondering about the connection. The comments below the article show the need for some geographical knowledge and understanding but some of you may consider that it is 'left field' science . It will be interesting to see how the media continues to report the research.

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