Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Onward in the right direction with geography

Worlds apart

Left image: Madang coast near Billi Billi.
Right image:Out of Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

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'

Australian Curriculum: Geography on track

I thought it opportune to do a posting on where we are at with the Australian Curriculum: Geography. Over recent months, a group of 13 writers and advisors have been busy in Sydney, on-line and via teleconferencing developing the draft scope and sequence for the geography curriculum.

The draft follows the January 2011 Geography Shape paper and will outline the geography curriculum from Foundation to Year 12, including an introduction, concept outlines, content descriptions and elaborations for each year level, skills and inquiry progressions and achievement standards. At this stage the plan is for the draft to go on-line for consultation from October 10th until February 29th 2011. The on-line consultation period is a critical time for geographers in Australia to provide their views on the curriculum and participate in a real way in shaping the curriculum. After the consultation period ACARA will review the comments and the advisors and writers will redraft the curriculum in response. Presently the publication date is September 2012.

So we have just on a year to go! It feels to some of us like a curriculum marathon when one considers that we started on the process way back in October 2008 with the 'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' and commenced work with ACARA on the curriculum in September 2009.

As mentioned in a previous Spatialworlds posting the identified concepts for the curriculum are: Place, Space, Environment, Interconnection, Change, Sustainability and Scale. Much work recently has gone into clarifying and producing the words to describe the concepts. These concepts have been critical as the curriculum is designed and written and will, I am sure, play an important part in the professional learning to be conducted as the curriculum is rolled out.

As for the focus for the year levels an effort has been made to give appropriate coverage for physical and human geography whilst keeping true to the holistic and integrated approach of geography. Naturally I cannot provide details of the year level focus in this blog but assure all readers of the Spatialworlds blog that every effort has been made to provide stimulating and engaging geography for each year level in-line with the capacities and interests of students as they progress through their schooling.

Over recent months there continues to be some hotspots for discussion which have provided for some lively and informed debate amongst the advisory group. Some of these have existed since we first started back in 2009; others have raised their head as the work has progressed. The hotspots involve questions about:

* The nature of place and space.
* The nature of sustainability in geography.
* Geography and citizenship capacity.
* The appropriateness of integrating fieldwork at each year level.
* The aim of engagement versus essential coverage.
* The physical/human geography balance.
* The vocational focus of geography.
* The role of geography to inform students understanding of the economy and the world of work.
* Spatial technology and its use as a core issue to be mandated in some way or not.
* The need for the language and terminology of the document to be understandable to non-geographers.
* Geography in the primary setting – suitability and achievability.
* What concepts and content should be included in a 21st Century curriculum of geography?

There is plenty of work still to go before the curriculum is published. I hope when geography teachers in October see the draft curriculum that they will consider that we are heading in the right direction in creating Australia’s first National Geography Curriculum. Many of us in geography associations around Australia are doing our best to ensure that the curriculum reflects worlds best practice, is relevant and engaging for students and meets the hefty expectations of geography teachers around Australia.

1 comment:

Mick Law said...

It goes without saying that I think a much stronger emphasis should be placed on spatial technologies, particularly given the role they play in the workforce today.