Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The new Geography Curriculum - the latest development...

I received an e-mail today from David Lambert about developments towards the new curriculum...

The Department for Education, through Nick Gibb has asked Alex Standish (some of you will be familiar with the name) to write a national curriculum for geography. The final draft has been made available to the GA, and shared on the website.

Alex Standish is an assistant professor of geography at Western Connecticut State University and author of "Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum: Reviewing the moral case for geography", published by Routledge.


The draft curriculum has been added to the GA Website Curriculum Consultation page as a 17 page PDF download. (Click to download)
Before you read the document, you should first read Alex's 'position statement' which sets out his thinking as he approached the task:


"This geography curriculum was compiled at the request of the Department for Education as a contribution to the national curriculum review. It has been written with input from teachers, department heads, and geography faculty. At secondary level it in part reflects the content of IGCSEs. Nevertheless, it remains my personal interpretation of what children should learn in geography at different key stages so that they become capable students of geography.
There are of course other ways of organising the geography curriculum, but one of my aims is to raise expectations of what pupils are capable of learning. If private schools are able to teach geography in the depth and breadth demanded by the IGCSE then so should everybody else. I believe that all children are capable to being educated to a high standard and it is time we started raising our expectations of how much children in the state sector can learn.
I also recognise that writing a curriculum and implementing it are two different things. To offer this curriculum would mean adding more geography in primary schools where there are fewer specialists. Nevertheless, there is nothing here that could not be taught by a primary teacher supported by suitable materials. At key stage one and two pupils should be using their local environment as a primary resource. Teaching about the UK in years 5 and 6 would require more work and ideally the production of some new teaching resources. But by age eleven, children should have learnt about the geography of their country, the physical and human environment and be capable of making and using maps. If this is not possible today, it is something we should work towards.
Another aim of this curriculum is to re-introduce regional geography to the English curriculum. This should be taught not by cataloguing facts about different regions, but rather to enable children to understand and interpret the range of cultures and landscapes that exist across the surface of the globe. Regional geography went out of fashion in the UK with the decline of Empire. It is high-time it was re-introduced to the curriculum so that children leave school having been introduced to all the major regions of the world. Surely this should be a primary aim of the geography curriculum?
In writing this curriculum, my objective has been to make a contribution to the conversation about what knowledge and skills children need to learn in geography. How this is taught in the classroom is the prerogative of teachers, as it always should be."


I note the link with iGCSE. Having been involved with the development of a new iGCSE book which is due to be published at the start of 2012, I know that any content can become engaging with the right treatment.

Once you've read the document, it would be great if you could LOG IN to the GA website (this will ensure that you are logged as a member and your statement will have more impact), and HAVE YOUR SAY on the Curriculum Consultation Page.


This is NOT the final curriculum (YET), but we need as many opinions as possible. If you don't express your opinion in the right place, it may not make a difference. You may be thinking YES, Regional Geography is back ! Please go to the GA's page and add a comment...
It's important that you also read the GA's suggested documents so that you can compare the approaches...

I haven't had chance to read the document, but will post some thoughts about it in a day or so....

I'm off to find my notes on Benelux and Denmark that I used to teach back in the late 80s.... my Head of Department at the time said that they would come in useful some time as education goes round in circles....


Image: Thingvellir, Iceland - Alan Parkinson (where the USA meets Europe...)

4 comments:

Angus Willson said...

So is it 'shift happens' or 'sh1t happens'?

This seems a little worrying or just poor editing: KS2 "Make comparisons between the local community and a non-European region". Scale-fail?

However, I, too, did this stuff and I'm also available for hire...

Richard Parish said...

Unbelievable! The whole philosophy behind this is archaic and wrong! Why do we need an American to write it anyway - perhaps he would be better off teaching geography to American Politicans!

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this right, according to Standish, students not choosing to continue geography to KS4 will have no idea about some of the major areas in the world today - USA, China etc. because his model says we do those at GCSE. Hmmm...

Did environmental geography do something wrong? Perhaps students expressing opinions over issues is unacceptable? Or perhaps it is harder to test!?

Whilst I agree we should have high expectations of pupils, Standish suggests state schools and private schools should have the same expectations - absolutely, but I teach classes of 32 - show me a private school that does that! My expectations for my pupils are extremely high (and the FFT and ALIS targets are often higher!) but lets be realistic - the two situations are not comparable. Grrr...

Emma Johns

GeoBlogs said...

Thanks for these comments. Was all set to do my reaction, but then had an impromptu trip out in the sunshine.. Might be a late one catching up with the reaction... There seems to be a feeling that a 'people's curriculum' of sorts could be one response...