- Iram's mantra that 'Having deep conversations with people is much better than waiting for change.' I've always believed in the power of campfire CPD - teachers talking to teachers about teaching. Teachers are also agents for change and curriculum makers. Collectively, we can make the changes needed. Indeed, many already are through the various groups. Please, check out Salaam Geography, Iram's blog.
- Iram told a story of how she can oppress children in her class. This story, and the learning, was powerfully told by Iram. The key point? Everyone is different and never make any assumptions. Talk to students, Get to know them. Their backgrounds. Their stories. Understand that what we teach will affect different people in different ways.
- It's ok not to know and the make mistakes. Ask questions. Apologise. Tweak the curriculum.
It is clear from the resulting conversations afterward that publishers have listened. The next target has to be the Geography Orders so that they move away from the worrying trend under this government of becoming inward looking and 'how great Britain is.' Geography must be outward looking, inclusive and unashamed of tackling the big issues, such as the impact that colonisation has had on the world, and continues to have.
Part of the same event, it was also fantastic to listen to Kit, a trans person who has, and always will be, welcome to tell their stories at the GA TeachMeet. As they said: there is a change happening and it is good.
I was also inspired by Kirstin, an RGA Scholar who I worked with in some interesting times. A single mother of three children, her story and achievements are fantastic.
Finally, my public apologies here to Alistair - I couldn't get the sound sorted in time and I am gutted that we couldn't play your story at the event. I've embedded it below.
The next day, I eagerly awaited the keynote from Dipo Faloyin. His book, Africa is not a country, is a must read, and not only for geography teachers (I am listening to it on audible during my long runs at the moment). Whilst this has been a mantra of the geography classroom for many years, his book and talk really hit home to importance of both identity and context when teaching about locations in Africa. I will leave you to explore his work, the main learnings I took away is that I needn't be ashamed nor take responsibility for the past. What I must do is include both the contexts and include the multitude of identities that the continent contains and to do so with accuracy.
I am also reminded of the importance of starting with the end in mind: the whole curriculum. Not single lessons but sequences of lessons based upon what a department want our young people to know. What we want them to be able to do. The importance of the curriculum and our role, as teachers, as curriculum makers. Yes, individual resources and lessons need to be consider, but the change needed is more important and fundamental than that.
Great geography teachers change the world. We do that by giving young people the knowledge, skills, qualities and qualifications needed and show them how they can use this to change their own context, even if that is at classroom level. Geography is far more, and far more important, that what children will leave our institutions knowing. Knowing is simply not enough. This does not mean that we give our own views. It means that we give children the knowledge and teach them how to think. Not what to think.
Decolonisation and anti racist teaching does need a culture shift from government, but that does not mean that we should wait. Indeed, a paradigm shift is already occurring and it is being driven by a group of committed and inspirational people.
I'll leave you with this, taken from the start of Dipo's book: