Thursday, March 5, 2015

Geography is a must in the curriculum!!

Why geography is important in the curriculum

From time to time I come across writings that set out to articulate the nature of modern geography and why it is important that geography is an integral and critical part of any school curriculum. In 2006 AGTA had an attempt at such a document when it produced and circulated the document, 'Australia needs Geography'.

It is especially pleasing when you come across a piece of work that affirms ones thinking and says it far more concisely and eloquently than one can. The following excerpts from an blog posting by Sean Hampton-Cole from South Africa is just that. A wonderfully articulated description of what modern geography is and why it should be taught in schools. It is important to note that the majority of quotes in the article are from a publication by The Geographical Association titled; A Different View  If you want to read the whole piece just click here.


Why Geography is Good For You (And why you should take it at school)

Don’t take Geography if you want to know what the capitals of the world’s countries are. Don’t take it if you’re interested in the major imports and exports of Tajikistan. And stay away from Geography if you like knowing the location of major rivers, mountains and deserts. These things are not Geography. They may have been half a century ago. But this is not what Geography is today.
Geography is the biggest, most relevant, most future-focused and dynamic subject there is. You literally study everything there is on planet earth – both the natural elements and the human. It encompasses elements of Biology, History, Economics, Mathematics and huge chunks of Science. It is also both a practical and a deeply philosophical subject.
Yes, the subject matter is diverse – everything from tropical cyclones to volcanoes, from the dynamics of cities to population pyramids. But there’s also a lot more…  Geography gives us a ‘zoom lens’ to think with.
‘Thinking geographically is a uniquely powerful way of seeing the world … thinking geographically … provide[s] a language – a set of concepts and ideas – that can help us see the connections between places and scales that others frequently miss.’ (Peter Jackson, Professor of Human Geography)
Geographers are experts in the twin skills of analysis and synthesis. That is: they can break down an issue to see how it works by studying its parts, and they can put a range of factors together in order to understand how things function as an integrated whole.
‘Geography is a fundamental fascination. It is also a core component of a good education. … [and] one of humanity’s big ideas … Its ambition is absurdly vast..’ (Alastair Bonnett, Professor of Geography)
Perhaps most importantly, Geography gives you a sense of how everything fits together and is connected with everything else. Another important theme that runs through Geography is the idea of BALANCE. 
Geographers constantly encounter things that have not yet fully been explored or understood. We are honest about not knowing everything and so are able to change our minds when we discover new evidence. In teaching us how to think more clearly, Geography also enables us to be less judgemental and more open-minded. It also teaches us to follow the scientific method by trying to find, interpret and evaluate evidence.
Geography is just plain interesting and it stimulates the curiosity to find out more.
‘You can travel the seas, poles and deserts and see nothing. To really understand the world you need to get under the skin of the people and places. In other words, learn about geography. I can’t imagine a subject more relevant in schools. We’d all be lost without it.’ (Michael Palin, actor, writer, traveler and Past President of the Royal Geographical Society)
‘Geography presents young people with real issues, globally and locally, giving them voice and reason to speak up. This subject never stays still, constantly remoulding itself to reflect changes in the world. This is why teachers and students love it so much!’ (Dee Saran, Geography Teacher)
I can guarantee you that in the next ten years every company in the world will have a geographical department. Knowing about the world is the future. (Juliet Ransom – Matriculant)
 Thanks for this terrific article Sean. You may also be interested in Sean's Slideshare on What geography really teachers us - have a look!

On the same theme, here is an interview with a geographer who tells us it's more than state capitals and shares how math can help kids and parents map and explore the world, 

I was also particularly impressed by The top 10 reasons to study geography from Canadian Geographic.The 'Why Study Geography' video from the UK Royal Geographical Society is also a great resource to advocate for geography.

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