Skip to main content

Glaciation isn't rubbish to teach: the power of high quality teaching



This is probably a geography thing.  And it's got nothing to do with myself spending loads of time on Alpine glaciers (the photo above is during crevasse rescue training, I think I'm actually down the crack).  Or that I hail from Wales, a land of glaciated valleys.  Too many geography teachers tell me that glaciation is rubbish to teach.  That it's difficult to get children to relate to it or that the mechanisms are too abstract.
Putting aside my personal view that these landscapes are beautiful and awe inspiring, this view, especially from Geographers, is bonkers.  It's not like asking ICT teachers with no background in coding to suddenly teach Python.
This is why it's bonkers:
1. The KS3 National Curriculum for Geography sets no prescribed content.  It just mentions key glacial processes.  It's up to departments to decide what these are.
2. The huge glacier on top on Greenland or Antarctica melting and flooding the whole world could be considered a key glacial process.  Yes, probably being flippant here.
3. Glaciers melting, resulting in global sea level rises and cutting off water supply to regions in the world is a pretty important geographical issues affecting the world and young people's understanding of the process behind that is therefore important.
4, The sinking of the Titanic captures children's imaginations and was caused by an iceberg, that calved from a glacier.  Calving is a key geographical process.
5. I'm assuming that teachers who find the key processes around glaciation difficult to teach also have trouble getting young people to relate to other geographical issues of which they have no direct experience of. Such as ecosystems, being a refugee or living in a desperately poor country.
Thing is, it makes me sad because it suggests that Geography teachers are either unable or unwilling to change.  Unable to think creatively around the national curriculum corset (it's easy to wriggle out of) or unable to make a fundamental issue exciting and relevant.  Unwilling is even more difficult to understand.  Are we saying that it's not our responsibility to ensure that young people have at least some grasp of the glacial processes that are making significant changes to our world?  What will happen to skiing once the Alpine glaciers and snow have gone?
Thing is, I, along with those I work with, have an unshakable faith in the power of high quality teaching.  I know that great teachers are able to polish any turd delivered by the Secretary of State and make it hugely engaging, relevant and  fantastic.  Trust me, I've been teaching about Ox Bow bloody lakes; urban models and waterfalls for years and even added housing tenure recently.  
And don't even get me started on those that are against Maths in geography......
Anyway, would be good to have some people argue with me about this.  Am I totally wrong here? 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#GAConf22: A paradigm shift for anti-racist, decolonised teaching and inclusion

 " You can't start a fire,  You can't start a fire without a spark" Bruce Springsteen.  Well, it's been a fair while since I felt the motivation or the need to blog. Whilst not a story for now, over the past five years I've danced along the knife edge and, often, the call of the abyss has been both tempting and compelling. Certainly, my failing in both my personal and professional life have been numerous. But. This is not about me, but the people that have (re)ignited the spark to the fire in my soul. I realise that this is from the perspective of a privileged, white, middle class male view. I even have a beard. I am scared of getting it wrong on this topic. Teach me if I am wrong, it is from the position of a learner. I was looking forward to the GA Conference this year, the first face to face since 2019. I have to say that Alan , as president, and the Geographical Association's team did a fantastic job at being inclusive. The hybrid format allowed peopl

What makes a learning experience profound? Personal reflections and possible implications for classroom practice.

I have recently begun a Leadership Pathways journey.  As part of the first core day, we were asked to reflect on a profound learning experience. This got me thinking about how many profound learning experiences I have both been involved in, and how many I have been able to give to others.  Our group came up with a huge long list, but these are my five. Emotional Connected Demanding Reflective Collaborative As always, these are personal thoughts and quite mixed up.  I put them here so that I can look back on them (plus they’d get lost inside my world-cup-free brain) 1. Emotional I can’t think of a time where deep learning hasn’t engaged my emotions.  From being awe inspired to that tingle feeling when a student gets a light bulb moment.  From this-is-the-happiest-day-ever, to I-think-I’m-about-to die.  How often do we engage the emotions of those we teach?  Here, I would argue that having a safe learning environment is not always conducive to profound

Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic. Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless. As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold: 1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and 2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making. The role of