Last Friday was busy. Before heading over to BETT to give a talk at TMBETT15, I spent the day at the Royal Geographical Society, of which I am a Fellow and Chartered Geographer. It’s always great getting back to geography, I consider myself a geographer before a teacher. But some of the points here are relevant for teachers of all subjects and ages. Some of the specific ideas are clear in the slides, but my main points are below.
It’s always tricky when challenged to give a talk around the idea of creativity or inspiration. With this in mind I started by thinking about creativity and have posted my thoughts here and over at Staffrm.
To me, there are a number of exciting aspects of the current curriculum changes:
1. Teachers Standard 4.
This, to me, is something to savour and celebrate. Even though it came out of a Tory DfE, it’s bloody good. The DfE are ordering us to be curious.
2. The purpose of geography as set out in the National Curriculum is stunning:
My main thrust at the start of my talk is that I can’t really understand geographers being that scared by the new content. We are geographers and therefore interested and curious about the world. It was spine tingling to hear delegates agree. Some are looking forward with relish at learning about new places. This is good. For those that think that glaciation isn’t relevant to young people? Just think about what shrinking glaciers will do to water supply to billions of people in Asia….. In any case, it’s still up to teachers to set the real content. This will probably be linked to KS4 (whenever those delayed specs finally come out…). All in all, geographers are in a much stronger position that colleagues in other subjects. Spoken to your Computing / ICT department lately?
Geography mustn’t be a silo on its own as many of its topics link to other areas of the curriculum. However, it does have three killer attributes:
1. It’s full of JONK: Joy Of Not Knowing
2. We have enquiry
3. Our subject is happening outside the window, Right now.
Next, I talked about the idea of revisiting and interleaving as part of creative curriculum design. There are so many overlaps between different aspects of geography, indeed the physical and human aspects of the subject are interconnected. I shared some of the thoughts being put together with my current department:
Finally, the curriculum clearly states that we should be learning about areas of global significance. I doubt that a coherent argument can be made that wither Russia, the Middle East, Asia or Africa don’t fall into the category. Some of the ideas and topics that I shared have been in use since I started teaching in 2003 – and the resources and ideas already exist out there. In today’s world of online resources, it shouldn’t take long.
So, let’s hope that we look at the new curriculum for what it is: a chance to resist, refresh and reenergise.