Saturday, April 14, 2012

The WOW factor of geography: WOW = World of Wonder!

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'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
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Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

The wonder factor of geography

Quite a bit of discussion has happened around the ACARA writing process for the Australian Curriculum: Geography in regards to the need to make the aim of a “sense of wonder” prominent in the aims of the course. Some were concerned that it was not an academic aim and how do you assess a sense of wonder of our world. However the long tradition of geographers being explorers with a need to satisfy curiosity (a previous Spatialworlds posting explored inquisitiveness in geography) and engender wonder has always been at the centre of geography. Thankfully this desire amongst geographers has been listened to and the first aim (no coincidence being first aim either!) of the Australian Curriculum: Geography reads: ensure that students develop:

Aim 1: a sense of wonder and curiosity about places, people, cultures and environments throughout the world

Here are just a few Internet sites that can be used in the geography classroom to engender wonder of the world, so that students say WOW.

1. The BBC Human Planet Explorer: wondrous video clips galore

I thought it would be good in this posting to point geography teachers to the excellent BBC site titled “Human Planet Explorer”. This site is a great resource for the geography teacher wanting to develop a sense of wonder and curiosity with students.

The site contains hundreds of amazing human stories from around the world through television and radio clips from BBC programmes such as Human Planet, Amazon with Bruce Parry and Tropic of Cancer. Human Planet Explorer enables teachers and students to browse a selection of clips that showcase man's relationship with the natural environment. Check the video clips on Environments, Seasons, Life events , Survival skills, Countries, Events and Festivals and other BBC video collections. They will certainly build a sense of wonder of our world for geography students.

Here is just one and a selection of a few others worth exploring on the site. Be prepared to spend a few hours of wonder and curiosity.

* Tidal movements under the ice.
The tide goes out even under the ice. This amazing video shows the pulsating movements of the sea and ice.
People risk their lives gathering every day necessities, namely food! It is very interesting what people of the northern Arctic regions have done for so long.

Just wait till the end of the tidal ice YouTube and click on BBC1 and see some of the following magnificent videos of our world. Here are just a few wondrous ones:

* Nomads Life – Eagle hunter
* Emptying a lake in minutes
* Tuna fishing in the South Pacific
* Paddle surfer riding huge wave
* An uncontacted Amazon tribe from the air
* Fishing in the Philippines

2. The Earth from Space now!

Andre Kuipers, space station astronaut TwitterS pictures from space: astronaut on the International Space Station sends pictures back to Earth via his Twitter account, Astro_andre.

3. Geography Association’s “A Different View”

Have a look at the video to accompany 'a different view' the Geographical Association's 2009 'Manifesto' for school geography. Geography is about discovering the world… and its complexity Geography deepens our understanding of the world Geography fascinates and inspires Thinking geographically … thinking critically … about what we see and understand This can be shown without any preamble as to its purpose as hopefully the movie makes it clear what it is for. A video to show the WOW factor of geographical thinking.

4. The NASA Earth Observatory site

This amazing source of satellite images of the Earth has been around for a while but never ceases to engender wonder of the world.

5. An interactive map showing population density of the earth.

A great example of visual literacy for learning.

Developing a sense of wonder, a type of Sunshine Geography is how we will attract students to geography - not the Death Geographies as described in the UK which focus on doom and gloom of the planet. In Australia we could call this the "We will all be ruined Geographies!" More on that discussion in a future Spatialworlds posting.

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