Sunday, November 20, 2011

AGTA 2013: It's all happening!

Left image:Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.
Right Image: Adelaide coastline, 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'

“Without geography, the world would be a mystery to us.”
David Lambert CEO, Geography Association of the UK

In regards to curriculum, David Lambert writes:

“A curriculum shaped by whim, the topics in the news and contemporary themes of "relevance" - or, worse still, policy imperatives laid down by the Government - is likely to be incoherent, shallow and like junk food: deeply unsatisfying after the initial fat and sugar rush.
A person growing up in the 21st century as a global citizen (and all that implies) is at a disadvantage without geographical knowledge - economically, culturally and politically. How can we make any of the personal decisions that already confront us every day about energy, food and water security without geographical knowledge? Understanding geographical perspectives contributes to our capabilities as educated individuals and members of society.”

Why am I quoting David Lambert? It seems like yesterday that I was talking about AGTA 2011 and the arrival of Dr Rita Gardner, Director of the RGS to be our keynote.

Well time has moved forward and we are now well into planning for AGTA 2013 in Perth, Western Australia. Only last night I got the good news that David Lambert and Simon Catling have accepted AGTA’s invitation to be keynotes at AGTA 2013.

As some of the most respected and influential educators in the area of school geography, I thought it worth profiling them in this posting and commence my work convincing anyone who visits this blog to get to Perth in January 2013 to join us at AGTA 2013 – it should be a great experience in many ways.

The Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) conference for 2013, known as AGTA 2013 is to be held in Perth from January 7-10, 2013. For more information on the conference and expressions of interest to present just go to the AGTA site at

So why David and Simon as keynotes? I think the background on them that follows speaks for itself. Their CV’s shows that with both presenting, AGTA 2013 covers the needs of geography from F-12 in a way that maybe previous conference neglected.

With the Australian Curriculum: Geography being written and to be implemented for all years from F-12, then we must tackle the challenges of primary implementation. It is hoped that this broader focus for AGTA 2013 will attract primary educators who may have seen the work of AGTA in the past secondary-centric. With the investment in bringing Simon, a primary geography educator of enormous influence and David, one who has been intimately involved in the implementation of the UK National Curriculum for Geography from Reception to Year 12, we hope this view may change for this conference.

Professor David Lambert

In his book, “Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum”, David said:

“a decline in the subject's popularity in the early 1990s prompted attempts to make geography more 'relevant' to pupils.”

In many ways this has been David’s mission as he has guided the work of the GA in the UK - with considerable success.

These quotes from a recent article by David in the Telegraph are worth highlighting here to give a taste of the inspiring talk we will hear in Perth in 2013;

“Geography is the subject that contributes more than any other to young people’s knowledge of the world. Geography is not just important on its own account. It is a linking discipline, connecting to science, to the arts, to history and languages. In primary schools where geography in strong, the subject can help to knit the curriculum together as well as satisfy pupils' curiosity about people and places. In senior schools, geography offers the opportunity to develop a broader and very contemporary skill-set. It also helps many students to keep their options open, rather than having to narrow their courses down to either the sciences or the arts. Geography straddles both, using diverse sources and data, and asking challenging and engaging questions about the change pupils can see in the world around them.
In schools where geography teaching is weak – and especially where it is handled by non-specialists – children are denied these crucial elements of a broad and balanced education that will benefit them throughout their lives. Instead, they will have a narrower conception of the world, and will have missed out on the fieldwork that could teach them about the power of learning directly in particular places and environments.
In the end, geography isn't just about reciting a list of capital cities – although that can be an impressive party trick. It is the subject that contributes more than any other to young people's knowledge of the world, their understanding of the relationships between people and places, and their ability and propensity to think critically and creatively about the ways in which we affect the planet we live on.”

So who is David Lambert?

Professor David Lambert was a comprehensive school geography teacher before joining the Institute of Education in 1987. In 2002 he became Chief Executive of the Geographical Association, helping guide its development as a significant provider of CPD and a leader in funded curriculum development activity. From September 2007, he has combined this role with a return to the Institute of Education as Professor of Geography Education. His writing and research are concerned with curriculum development and assessment, and his overarching goal is to advance understanding of the role of geography in schools in relation to broad educational purposes
Of particular significance to our work with the Australian Curriculum: Geography is David’s thinking and work in his book “Teaching Geography 11-18: A Conceptual Approach”.

"This is a must read for all 11-18 geography educators. It argues for a new geography curriculum founded on a set of major concepts that are profoundly relevant to 21st century life. For years, books on 11-18 geography education have focussed on classroom techniques, new pedagogic technologies and alternative modes of student assessment.. It asks not only what geography is for, but bases its answer on a set of key concepts able to sustain an exciting and relevant curriculum. ".
Professor Noel Castree, University of Manchester, UK

This engaging and stimulating book from David aims to radically re-shape and sharpen debates in geography education by asking several key questions:
• What is the place of geography within the secondary school curriculum?
• To what extent does school geography reflect and engage with contemporary issues and theories from the wider subject?
• What are the issues, challenges and opportunities of a concept-led approach to teaching geography?
• What are the implications of ICT, media and technology for the future of geography teaching in schools?

These are questions that we in Australia developing the Australian Curriculum: Geography consistently ask. David has said to me that there are strong parallels between what they have been through with the National Curriculum for Geography in the UK and what we are presently immersed in with ACARA in Australia. His keynote I am sure will be a highlight at the conference and will further inform our approaches as we head towards the implementation stage in 2013.

I can’t resist putting this quote as a footnote to my comments on David.

"If we think education in its broadest sense is important, then geography is important too. Thinking geographically helps us understand ourselves in the world... or, as our manifesto says, helps us travel with a different view. If geography, as it is laid out in the manifesto, were not part of the curriculum then we'd risk turning out young people who were only partially educated."
- July 2009

Professor Simon Catling

Simon is the Professor in Primary Education in the School of Education - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Simon's academic and research interests are:
Young children’s geographies and their relationship to geographical education.
• Younger children’s ideas about geography.
• Geographical education and curriculum development in the Foundations Stage and Primary School curriculum.
• The representation of geography in commercial books on geography published for younger children.
• Student teachers’ geographical knowledge, understanding, values and attitudes.
• The role and value of geography professional learning for primary teachers.
Simon has written much on the subject of geography and map learning for teachers and children.

Simon’s specialist interest is in children’s geographical learning , a unique endeavour in the geographical education world and one which deserves continued attention. Recognised as the world leader in this area we are certainly fortunate to have Simon as our keynote at AGTA 2013. I plan to write more in reference to Simon's work and primary school geography in coming months.

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