Thought for the Day

"...the true geographer is the lover of the earth. He should feel to the earth something of that exquisite and strong feeling which the son begins to feel towards his mother as he grows up and passes out of the age of careless, unintelligent, even though strong, emotion towards her, into the stage of intelligent and sympathetic comprehension of all that he has owed her from the beginning of his life to the present moment. The emotion is even stronger than before, but it is now guided by knowledge."

A day in a Favela

A 36o degree Video... Watch this on your phone, or pan around...

In Rio, one out of every five residents lives in a favela. More than one and a half million people. More than one and a half million stories. Step inside this 360 experience of a day in Favela and meet some truly inspiring people and view.

The White Darkness - Henry Worsley's journey

I've blogged about this previously, but it has come back into my feed recently. It's a long piece by David Grann, which tells the story of Henry Worsley. He was apparently a distant relative of Frank Worsley: Shackleton's navigator who steered a course for the 'James Caird' from Elephant Island to South Georgia.

He was determined to complete the trans-Antarctic journey that Worsley was never able to complete once the 'Endurance' was trapped in the pack ice and sunk. The ship was the target of a recent expedition too, who hoped to locate the wreck, but were unable to before the ice prevented them. In 2009, Worsley was part of a successful group expedition to cross Antarctica in Shackleton's footsteps. In 2016, he set off to complete the first solo, unaided crossing of Antarctica. At the time, I followed the journey with a Y6 group that I had for a Geography Explorers session. His website tracked his journey, and had updates, and images of the equipment he was using.

Read the rest of the story by following the link here.
You will have a certain number of New Yorker articles that you can read for free each month.

Subway reef exhibition

While in New York, at the wonderful Grand Central Station, I noticed there was an exhibition of interest.
The exhibition contains images from photographer Stephen Mallon, who documented an interesting recycling project.
Hundreds of former New York subway carriages were stripped of their insides, and then sent to be made into a series of artificial reefs off the coast of South Carolina over the course of several years.

A few articles describing the project are this Atlas Obscura post, and this article, which describes the scale of the projects that MTA have been involved in.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has since created an artificial reef for oysters in Jamaica Bay with 5,000 porcelain toilets discarded by city schools. There was a poster about the One Billion Oyster project on Staten Island, and I will blog about that in a future post.
Check out the website here for more details.
Stephen Mallon is the photographer.

Follow Stephen on @stevemallon to see more of his work and projects.
Here's an untapped cities article:

I am going to work this up into a resource exploring sustainability / recycling / coastal change / tourism.

Image: Alan Parkinson - shared under CC license

Good Life - University of Leeds

Kate Raworth shared the link to this website during her lecture at the GA Conference. It displays the progress that countries are making towards meeting the needs of their population and keeping within planetary boundaries.

The Good Life website has 'doughnut' style diagrams which allow comparison between two countries.

Earth from Space - free poster

Don't forget to order your free poster, from the Open University to accompany this wonderful new series.

Catch up with the show here.

Share your teaching ideas with the RGS

There is a new place to share your teaching ideas: on the RGS website.

Check out what is there already.

Prince's Teaching Institute Summer Residential

I have been fortunate to work with the PTI on a couple of events: in Harrogate and London.

I've never quite managed to get to their excellent summer residentials, despite them being held down the road in Cambridge.

If you teach in a state school, you will have a chance to attend this summer's event at a reduced rate, as there are some bursaries available.

There is an excellent list of speakers going along. Follow the link to find out more.

Braille Bricks

LEGO announced a new brick set this week, and they were very different to the normal.

This website has information on the bricks.
Can you guess what word is written in Braille bricks here?

GA Conference 2019 - Post #12 - Justine Greening's address

For those who were in Manchester, you will know that Justine Greening was unable to attend the GA Conference in person due to various Brexit related nonsense.
She did, however, send a 35 minute video which was shown to delegates. I was in a different session at the time, so missed it anyway, so useful to be able to see this.
Take a watch, and I'd be interested to hear what you have to think.
Justine was born in Rotherham, like me, and went to a comprehesive school just down the Bawtry Road on the edge of Rotherham.

Keynote address - Justine Greening from The Geographical Association on Vimeo.

New York 1 - Arrival

Some posts coming up describing the geographical adventures I had in the city of New York over Easter.

We had an early flight with Norwegian Air, who come highly recommended. We had booked flights in their sale months earlier for a bargain price.
Up early, breakfast, and over to the terminal to check in our bags - very efficient - and then security - a longer queue for this one, but not bad compared to previous occasions - a wait in departures and got some bits for the flight - boarded efficiently and flight wasn't too busy - took off on time - the route didn't take us over very much land sadly - 2 meals provided, and also watched several films and dozed a little - apparently the cabin pressure and airflow had been improved, so a comfortable flight - landed at JFK airport early afternoon US time - baggage reclaim and passport control - first visit meant hand scanning which took time to do, and then a driver took us from the airport into the city centre, and checked into the Hilton Garden Inn near Central Park. I'd chosen this hotel after looking through hundreds and
After Tiffany's (a film location for my son) and Trump Tower, and the HOPE statue, we headed down Broadway, and to Times Square, which was as iconic as I expected.
Went for our first wander in that area, and down to Bryant Square, which was a perfect place to sit with a cold lemonade, and within half an hour had hit one of the great buildings of the city: Grand Central Station.

This had an excellent photographic exhibition by Stephen Mallon, which I will write a separate blog post about, as it was excellent.

Bought some food, and back to the hotel to have an 'early' night so that we were fresh for the next day with the hour change. So exciting to be in the city, and have 5 days of exploring ahead of us...
Plenty more to come...

Images: Alan Parkinson - shared under CC license.

GA Conference 2019 - Post #11 - Session Downloads

For those who are unable to go to the conference, many of the session downloads are going to be appearing shortly on the GA website. Some of them are already appearing, including my Lecture Plus.

Past Conference downloads are here.

Downloads from this year are appearing here. More will appear over the next few weeks.

If you attended the conference and haven't yet sent your PPT and handouts to Aaron Bohlman at the GA, then do it.

Image: Copyright: Shaun Flannery / Association - link to follow in future blog post... - your stories needed

I blogged about the launch of Geography.News a few days ago, and they are offering an opportunity for your students (or you) to have a local story featured.

Check it out here.

66 North Glacier Retreat film

66 North is a clothing company based in Iceland. It produces high quality technical clothing. I have a 66 North Fleece which is one of the items of clothing I wear the most.
The company has now added a video to its website which looks at glacier retreat through the eyes of a couple who work with tourists visiting the country.
Details here:

Aron and Helen live on a farm in Hofsnes in Öræfi where they run a small mountain guide company. Aron is his family's fifth generation to oversee the family-run business, but his great great grandfather took their first customer up to Hvannadalshnjúkur, Iceland's highest peak, in 1891.

Originally Aron and Helen stumbled upon each other up on the glacier, where they were working for rival guide companies. That was love at first sight.

Their farm is in close proximity to Iceland's largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Inevitably the glacier, therefore, plays a large role in their lives. As a part of their job as guides, they both regularly visit the nearest outlets of the glacier, giving them a first-hand experience of the glacier's development.

In a quite short time, the landscape surrounding the large glacier has drastically changed. Increasingly more glacial lagoons have formed due to the increased melting, 500 meter (1640 ft.) long ice caves have disappeared and large sand dunes have formed from the retreat of the glacier.

Not only does this development force Helen and Aron to question the future of their family's livelihood, but also the entire nation to question its efforts towards preserving the country's unique nature.

New Geographical Association Secondary Committee Facebook page

We set up a Facebook page for our GA Secondary Phase Committee as they seem to be quite popular with folks as a way of sharing and having chats about stuff...
You can LIKE our page here, and then get occasional feeds of resources and other stuff into a format that might suit you if you're a 'Facebook' sort of person rather than other media...

Digimap for Schools - some new webinars to sign up for

Three new webinars have been organised by Digimap for Schools for those wanting to dig a little deeper into the software.

Digimap for Schools – Getting Started on May 2, 3:45 - 4:15pm

Click here to register

Digimap for Schools for Fieldwork and simple GIS on May 7, 3:45 - 4.15pm

Click here to register

Ideas for primary teaching with Digimap for Schools on May 14, 3:45 - 4.15pm

Click here to register

These are free sessions which last for 30 minutes. 
You don't need any special equipment to take part, just a computer or tablet with speakers. Select any webinar title above to book a place.
Hope to see you there!

If your school is part of a Multiple Academy Trust we can perhaps arrange some specific CPD events on inset days. Please contact us

Details of the webinars below.

Getting started with Digimap for Schools
Have you recently subscribed your school to Digimap for Schools? Are you wondering how to get started with viewing maps and using the various tools available? This webinar will provide an introduction to the service and show how to the get the best out of your subscription.

In this webinar you will learn:
• About the different maps available in Digimap for Schools
• How to search for locations
• How to navigate and change scale to view different maps
• How to view a map key
• How to measure distances and areas
• About the annotation tools
• How to save maps and create printable maps

Digimap for Schools for Fieldwork and simple GIS
Digimap for Schools is an excellent resource for fieldwork at all levels. You can prepare for trips and use the annotation tools to present data finding once you and your pupils are back in class. In this webinar you will learn about maps and tools available in Digimap for Schools that can be used to help support your pupil’s fieldwork.

We will look at:

• Using buffer tools
• Introducing GIS
• Point files
• How to create a map key
• How Digimap for School can fulfil NEA at GCSE

Digimap for Schools for Fieldwork and simple GIS
Learn about different ways to use Digimap for Schools to teach primary numeracy, literacy, Geography, History and map skills

We will look at:

• local area
• map directions
• map symbols
• map scale and measuring distances
• using historic mapping

Map of World Imports / Exports

A useful visualisation of world trade.

Watch the trade move between countries, and use the colours to see what commodities are produced from particular countries and regions.

GA Conference 2019 - Post #10 - Teachmeet

The first full day of the GA Conference 2019 ended with the Teachmeet.
As always, this featured 10 or so short inputs from people who had volunteered to stand up in front of their peers. These included

Richard Allaway produced a live stream for the Teachmeet... 

It can be watched here.
I'm on around 51 minutes in...

Here's the details of the talks as they went up on the Eventbrite page:

Robin Bailey // Every Day Geography // Engaging young minds in developing a love for subject without realising it.

Kate Stockings - shared some ideas on her teaching

Susan Pike // Primary Geographers: A 5 minute celebration of what primary pupil are capable of // I'll outline the amazing capabilities of primary aged pupils.

Ali Murray - some ideas around As, Bs, and Cs...

Lucy Fryer // Geography Games...twisting conventional games to celebrate geography // 'Traditional' games have been taken and twisted to be relevant in the classroom. Hopefully enabling students (and staff) to have fun whilst learning...celebrating how much fun geography can be!

Denise Freeman // Exploring student perceptions of place // Celebrating the importance of taking young people’s lived experiences into account in geography.

Kit Rackley // Geography: "Will You Marry Me"? // My GAConf19 lecture will detail the success-stories thanks to Geography in the more traditional way. The "TeachMeet" version will include these stories and others into verse... Embedded within a general lyrical love letter to the subject that we all hold dear.

Watch it on the Teachmeet feed or the link above.
Here are the lyrics:


Take my hand and walk with me
Because I have something to say, something to confess
You are my life, my world, my inspiration
No matter the landscape, you allow me to express
My love for you
Like Attenborough you have the charming ‘voice of god’
Like Rosling you use fact and reality to keep me sane
Like Dian Fossey you’re courageous, brave and saintly
Geography: will you marry me?
Geography you instil awe, wonder, belief and hope
You keep us motivated to learn, to teach for decades and beyond
Whether it’s north-west London or the African plains
You connect us, and the world easily corresponds
You inspire youth, you regenerate the old
You’re a problem solver, an open-thinker, a memory-maker
I want to preach your complex beauty
Geography: will you marry me?
I will travel to the ends of the Earth for you
And yet, you carry me through life even when I put it on hold
I’ve seen mountains, oceans, concrete jungles through your eyes
You’ve shown me how desert valleys can turn green
A sight to behold
When human and physical elements coexist your true beauty shines
You help me understand that with symbiosis we are truly alive 
We can achieve
The sound of howling wolves sing me to sleep and in my dreams,
again, you make me believe
And you helped me find myself; showed me who I truly am
Showed me cultures and places which love and accept me
By the Bay, under the golden bridge; beyond the binaryGeography: you are the champion of inclusivity and diversityWill you marry me?
Geography you gave me a calling and a purpose
You gave me strength and resilience
Through biodiversity, wilderness and conservation
And then illness struck me…
My body began to give in and my mind was surely to follow
But Geography, I let you back in and I took a deep breath
And listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am
I inch outside into the countryside and its air washes over me
Where my chair cannot take me and my boots stay cold and bare
You lift and carry me and I again can start to feel free
Geography, please never leave
Will you marry me
Luke Hinchliffe // The understanding/applying geography // Geography isn't knowledge it is all about celebrating what geography is all about not knowing but understanding applying geography to the world around us.

Caiti Walter // Using Nearpod to explore tectonics in an interactive way // Marrying technology that is, literally, at learners' fingertips with geographical exploration means that celebration by students is twofold; they love the software but they often love the geography more.

Catherine Owen // Clarity and consistency in KS3 geography lessons // KS3 can be a neglected area. How can we make our KS3 lessons worth celebrating?

Josh Sutheran // Everyday Geography // Celebrating the everyday value of geography. How can I make my day to day life relatable to geography in the classroom?

Alan Parkinson // Learning a lesson from History  - I shared my new blog, which explores the lives of all the former GA Presidents - this will grow over the next two years.

A few images by Shaun Flattery from the official Conference photo album:

Images: Copyright Shaun Flannery / Geographical Association

GA Conference 2019 - Post #9 - Wed pm

The afternoon started with Richard Allaway's session on Drones (see previous blogpost for more details)
I had a chance to chat to the Director of the RGS-IBG Joe Smith, who I hope to be working with a little more closely during my time on the Presidential journey. He was doing a lecture called 'Citizen Geography'.

My next place to be was with some SPC colleagues to do a workshop on Celebrating Geography with your SLT.

I teamed up with Kathryn Stephenson, Emma Johns, Claire Harrington and Judy Gleen to lead this session, and included an input on Twitter use in the Department.
We didn't have a very large turn out, but a good group of teachers who engaged nicely with the activities that we had put together, and took plenty away with them. The resources will be available to download shortly from the GA website.

This was followed by some more networking, with some former colleagues, and talk about some future opportunities, before my TUI Lecture plus to end the day.
See the next blog post for that.

At the end of the day, it was over to the Teachmeet. See separate blog post.

Geography News

Image may contain: text

A new site by Anthony Bennett.
Check it out.

Thought for the Day

Experience Iceland

It was good to chat to Simon Ross at the GA Conference.
We have done a few projects together over the years.

One of his latest projects has been to work with Discover the World Education to produce an interactive map, containing a range of video and other multimedia material.
Experience Iceland is the result of this work.

Click the link to see it here.

John Ruskin: geographer

"The spirit of the hills is action; that of the lowlands, repose; and between these there is to be found every variety of motion and of rest"

Daniel Raven Ellison recently gave a lecture at a location linked to the work of John Ruskin and that reminded me of his work, and links with Geography (Ruskin that is, not Raven-Ellison)

This source here, available online, has some nice geographical quotes and ideas.

I'm intrigued by his theory of landscape

Ruskin Gallery

Article via JSTOR

Check out the rest of the article online.

Help Laura with her survey please - just takes a couple of minutes

Greta Thunberg - Speech to MPs - Houses of Parliament - 23rd April 2019

You have all been told....

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to. People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing.

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more.

Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.

You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.

Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?

Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, these calculations do not include unforeseen tipping points and feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing arctic permafrost.

Nor do these scientific calculations include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Nor the aspect of equity – or climate justice – clearly stated throughout the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale.

We must also bear in mind that these are just calculations. Estimations. That means that these “points of no return” may occur a bit sooner or later than 2030. No one can know for sure. We can, however, be certain that they will occur approximately in these timeframes, because these calculations are not opinions or wild guesses.

These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC.
Did you hear what I just said? Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.

During the last six months I have travelled around Europe for hundreds of hours in trains, electric cars and buses, repeating these life-changing words over and over again. But no one seems to be talking about it, and nothing has changed. In fact, the emissions are still rising.

When I have been travelling around to speak in different countries, I am always offered help to write about the specific climate policies in specific countries. But that is not really necessary. Because the basic problem is the same everywhere. And the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.

The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.

Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester.

And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.

But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics.

The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual. The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd.

This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind.

People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.

Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.

Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?

The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.

“So, exactly how do we solve that?” you ask us – the schoolchildren striking for the climate.

And we say: “No one knows for sure. But we have to stop burning fossil fuels and restore nature and many other things that we may not have quite figured out yet.”

Then you say: “That’s not an answer!”

So we say: “We have to start treating the crisis like a crisis – and act even if we don’t have all the solutions.”

“That’s still not an answer,” you say.

Then we start talking about circular economy and rewilding nature and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about.

We say that all those solutions needed are not known to anyone and therefore we must unite behind the science and find them together along the way. But you do not listen to that. Because those answers are for solving a crisis that most of you don’t even fully understand. Or don’t want to understand.

You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time.

Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.

Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.

We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do.

We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.

I hope my microphone was on. I hope you could all hear me.

GA Conference 2019 - Post #8 - Richard Allaway droning on...

Richard Allaway led a session on the use of Drones at the GA Conference. He referred to them as 'disruptive technology' and shared plenty of ways that they are being used in a positive way, and not just to annoy people at tourist sites, or disrupting air traffic. There were also ideas for using them to teach Geography of course.

As part of the session, he gave someone an opportunity to win a drone.
Read this Kit Rackley blogpost on the use of Drones to get some more ideas on this technology.

Richard shared a video which showed the impact at Gatwick of the recent drone activity - fortunately there was no disruption when I passed through there recently.

There are numerous ways that drones can be used, and Richard shared a few of those with us, as well as considering some implications for using drones with students.
Check out the dedicated website here, which has a link to Richard's presentation.

He has also shared his images that he has taken using his own drone here.

Here's the specific DRONE GALLERY.

It's always worth hearing Richard speak. I look forward to seeing what he has to say next year.

GA Conference 2019 - Post #7 - Wednesday am

Had breakfast early, as the hotel was full apparently as Man Utd were playing Barcelona in the Champions League that night, in fact Simon Oakes was staying in the same hotel and they'd apparently booked the whole floor for the Barcelona entourage. They certainly weren't in the Premier Inn.

A short walk to the venue, and the day began with plenty of greetings with friends old and new and conversations. One of the great things about the GA Conference is the chance to meet up with people who you might see only once a year, but take up your chats as if you see them the whole time. Social media has helped with that to some extent, and I met many people who I regularly exchange chats with over Twitter / Facebook etc.
Started the day with coffee, and chats. The programme has full details on all sessions, and reading these sometimes leads to a change of decision about what to attend. I always try to attend sessions which are intriguing and a little bit different. I met with Des McDougall, who was doing a session on VR Glaciers and very kindly helped me with a conference I did for Inside Government last year.

Stephen Scoffham's Presidential Address was called 'Celebrating Geography' and he made some interesting points on the intersections of knowledge and emotion, using the diagram to the right. He also continued the tradition of showing your own school report - I have plenty of those.

He shared my caution about the connection between neuroscience and pedagogy

After coffee it was into a lecture with Simon Oakes, who was blitzing through a 'chat' on place representation and meaning. He said this was challenging for some people because it was quite a radical geography - which was why I loved the original Edexcel 2008 iteration and started the NING which supported so many people through those changes (now sadly gone to the digital graveyard)

There were some interesting discussions about the extent to which student agency (which was included in the specification, was used in reality) and I reminded people of the Young People's Geographies project and also the work of the OCR Pilot GCSE.

The idea of meaning also offers some options for discussions, as meanings come from different people. He talked about the ways that Coastal communities are represented, and there is certainly plenty to explore here on a cultural geography front.

The use of terms like encoding / decoding reminded me of the Media Studies 'A' level that my son is currently taking and the use of semiotics.
Simon referred to Jean Sprackland's book 'Strands' which I have read, which covers familiar territory for him on the Crosby coast near Liverpool.

He also referred to the Grace Nichols' poem: 'Hurricane hits England'
This is used in GCSE English, and so students will have analysed this poem. They can use the same skills to perhaps analyse other poetry.

He referred to the need for student agency, and the growth of Instagram and blogs as a way of publishing new sources. Check out for some examples of representations of places from a different author.

By now, there had already been over 20 sessions at the conference to choose from and it was only lunchtime. Duncan Hawley was talking about Physical Geography in the next session, while lunch time also saw a number of Teacher to Teacher sessions, which at around 20 minutes long are well worth catching for a brief insight into another colleague's practice.
Plenty of people were packing into a session involving colleagues from Gapminder.

I was headed for Richard Allaway's session next....

Perse Geography - Climate Change Resources

James Riley has shared an excellent Climate Change resource, exploring how to teach this important topic.

Go to this Dropbox link to download his excellent Climate Change resource.

New York: Nonstop Metropolis

Nonstop Metropolis by Rebecca Solnit, Joshua Jelly-SchapiroOne of the books that I read as part of my research into the city of New York was Rebecca Solnit's 'Nonstop Metropolis'.

This is one of three city atlases that Rebecca put together along with Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. She has also produced atlases for New Orleans and San Francisco.

Some information from the website of the publishers.

Winner of the 2017 Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Arts Society of New York

"The maps themselves are things of beauty... a document of its time, of our time."
—Sadie Stein, New York Times

"One is invited to fathom the many New Yorks hidden from history’s eye... thoroughly terrific."
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Nonstop Metropolis, the culminating volume in a trilogy of atlases, conveys innumerable unbound experiences of New York City through twenty-six imaginative maps and informative essays.

Bringing together the insights of dozens of experts—from linguists to music historians, ethnographers, urbanists, and environmental journalists—amplified by cartographers, artists, and photographers, it explores all five boroughs of New York City and parts of nearby New Jersey. We are invited to travel through Manhattan’s playgrounds, from polyglot Queens to many-faceted Brooklyn, and from the resilient Bronx to the mystical kung fu hip-hop mecca of Staten Island. The contributors to this exquisitely designed and gorgeously illustrated volume celebrate New York City’s unique vitality, its incubation of the avant-garde, and its literary history, but they also critique its racial and economic inequality, environmental impact, and erasure of its past. 

Nonstop Metropolis allows us to excavate New York’s buried layers, to scrutinize its political heft, and to discover the unexpected in one of the most iconic cities in the world. It is both a challenge and homage to how New Yorkers think of their city, and how the world sees this capital of capitalism, culture, immigration, and more.

It's a wonderful book.


This link will take you to a useful video for those teaching about Fashion, ahead of Fashion Revolution week.

It's a 360 walk through of a Primark factory in Bangladesh, showing clothes being manufactured.

Earth NullSchool Survey

Do you use Earth NullSchool in your teaching?

Let Cameron know of any features you'd like - the best bits of it... etc.
Survey is here

Undiscovered Worlds - Steve Backshall

Caught the end of this programme tonight.
Looks very useful for exploring the Arctic, and the 2nd episode looks excellent too.

Climate Change - the Facts

David Attenborough narrated an important documentary on BBC earlier this week.
I was away and missed it, but caught up on my return.

It is available to watch for a month after the date it was first shown, as usual on iPlayer, but it would be great if it could be made available indefinitely, as many programmes are on iPlayer already. Perhaps us Geographers should politely lobby the BBC and suggest this.

Half of consumers are apparently willing to pay more to help reduce plastic waste, for example. There are plenty of recent stories.

Leo Hickman posted an image of a piece by Jeremy Clarkson in 'The Sun', which would be useful as a counterpoint to this programme, describing his thoughts on being told what to do. I grabbed it and made it into a word document.
Here's the basics from the programme:


I've just written another blog post as part of my contribution to being an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion.
The weather this Easter is perfect for getting outside (don't forget the sunblock though).

Here's a reminder of why getting outside is important for young people.

GA Conference 2019 - Post #6 - All the Presidents: Men (and Women)

At the Teachmeet at the GA Conference (more on that to come), I launched my latest blog.
It's a sort of history of the GA, with brief pen portraits of the 100+ people who have held the post of GA President since it began 126 years ago.
There have been some very interesting people who have held the post of GA President.

These biographies and pen-portraits are brief and partial. I have given each of the Presidents some of my time. Recent Presidents I have (or will) contact in person. For those who have sadly passed away, I have relied on documents and articles that appear in GA journals, along with internet searching and library searches for some books and other documents. I have also visited locations and taken images where practical.
Please get in touch if you have something to add, spot an error or issue, or want to share your own stories of, or memories of, particular past Presidents.
The project will involve me making irregular posts over the next couple of years - one every couple of weeks - culminating in the final post in September 2021 with details of the President of the Geographical Association for 2021-22.

It is a personal project, and not connected with the views of the Geographical Association.

Here's a word cloud of the Past Presidents. How many can you recognise?

GA Conference 2019 - Post #5 - JVP elect

Thanks to those who supported me for my application to be the future President of the GA.

I've had to keep the news to myself for quite a while now, which has been difficult.

It was pleasing to see the reaction when people found out, and I had plenty of interesting chats during the conference itself, which has now taken on a new complexion, as I will be 'curating' one in 2022.

I've already started planning some possible activities and speakers, and will be in touch with various people once I find out a little more about the logistics of conference organisation...

It's going to be an interesting 4 years ahead, as I move through the process, from JVP, to VP, to President, to Past President. I'm in good company though.

See the next blog post for a new blog which I have started as part of this process.

Top Trumps Rivers

My Top Trumps Rivers packs arrived this week.
The packs have been produced by the University of Hull.

Here's a description from the website.

Scientists at the Earth Arcade, hosted by the Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull, put the fun and engaging Rivers Top Trumps together to educate and entertain both children and adults alike. We conduct research on the impact of human activity and climate change on rivers and flooding and understand that in order to improve societal resilience to flooding, education concerning rivers and their risks is vital.

Each player is dealt a number of rivers and chooses a category about their river that they think will win against their opponent. We chose the river categories because we feel they express a wide range of important river characteristics, whilst also highlighting the risks associated with even the smallest rivers.

Length - Length of river in kilometres (km) from its source to mouth

Flow Discharge - The mean annual volume (km3) of water discharged to the sea, as measured at the closest recording station to the river mouth.

Flood Risk - An index based on the number of people that could be affected by a large magnitude flood event (with a 1% chance of occurring in any given year).

Deadly Animals – An index score, out of 100, based on the number of animals living in and around the river that have the potential to harm humans.

Countries – The number of countries the river flows through.

£4.99 per pack (not including delivery)

Here's an image of the set, and some of the cards.

Order your own here.

New York - urban adventures

Back from a week in New York....

Over Easter, I spent six days in the city. This was a wonderful trip with the family.
We travelled as a family and tried to avoid crossing London by train so took a different route to usual. This involved minimal luggage hefting - in fact we only really had to lift our cases into and out of two cars the whole time.

Here's my flight path over the Atlantic, via FlightRadar.

More to come in several future blog posts...

Thought for the Day

"I don't want to live in a world without lions, and without people who are lions"
Werner Herzog

GA Conference 2019 - Post #4 - GA Awards, and an announcement

At the GA Conference, the first evening is always the Public Lecture and the Awards.
I had a meal at Pizza Express when I arrived in Manchester, before heading for the lecture theatre, where I also picked up my delegate badge and a conference programme. This is a pro-tip for the future.

First up was Kate Raworth with the Public lecture, which was well attended, and introduced by Stephen Scoffham, this year's GA President.

Kate Raworth was an excellent speaker, and provided some opportunities for people to hear about Doughnut Economics. I was familiar with the ideas, having used them for an SAGT Conference session in October last year.
Kate is keen to get teachers involved in the next stage of the development of the project by engaging with the resources.

There was also a mention of the Leeds University Good Life resources, which include some excellent country comparisons making use of Kate's Doughnut Economics idea.
Check it out here.
Here's an example image, comparing the UK with Somalia (one of the countries in the OCR B textbook)

Following the lecture, there were the GA Awards for publications, individuals, PGQM and SGQM schools, photography etc.

And the final announcement of the evening was this one.... more to come in a future blog post.

Pie Fidelity

A new book over in the GeoLibrary blog is the latest by Pete Brown.
This is about a number of British dishes, and the cultural background to them. It starts with a description of pie and peas in Barnsley. The pie and pea supper was a big part of my own childhood in Rotherham, with many school fund raisers ending with one in the school hall, with thick gravy on the mushy peas and pie.

There are plenty of stories, including meals such as Fish and Chips, the Full English breakfast, and the Sunday roast. It's a bit rambling, and the authors interest in beers and brewing keeps taking over from time to time, but the idea is a compelling one, and there are plenty of insights on what are familiar foods.

I am thinking of including some elements of this in my teaching.

My copy was published by Particular Books in 2019
Hardback, 342pp
ISBN:  978-1-846-14959-7

GeogChat - Summer term titles

Beyond the Horizon

I've been getting stuck in to Barry Lopez's new book 'Horizon', which is a chunky tome, and an important one.
It has been attracting a lot of attention from reviewers and related journals, including Robert MacFarlane.

Herald Scotland has a good review of the book giving a flavour for its contents.

Even the act of looking up, as a nature-watcher will, and saying “shelduck” or “juncus” or “cumulonimbus” is to impose a human fixity on what should remain a fluid and dynamic field of unnameable possibilities. As soon as the bird is identified, sexed, dated and added to the list, the scene freezes into documentation.
The Atlantic has an excellent review as well.

The Guardian has Robert MacFarlane talking about the book in characteristic style.

From the book:

“One can never, even by paying the strictest attention at multiple levels, entirely comprehend a single place, no matter how many times one might travel there. This is not only because the place itself is constantly changing but because the deep nature of every place is not transparency. It's obscurity."

David Griesing has published an essay.

NPR review is worth reading, as well as this other NPR piece on the book.

Fashion Revolution Week

Fashion Revolution Week is coming up next week, as many schools return to school following the Easter break.

Fashion Revolutionaries, a partnership between the British Council and Fashion Revolution, is a global programme - now in its second year - that spotlights individuals working from within the fashion industry advocating for vital changes to be made towards a more responsible and sustainable future for all.

Alaric Maude's geography poetry

David Lambert has been involved in a Geography conference looking at contextualising school Geography. This involved quite a few people that I know, and I was following the tweets on the hashtag.

The conference was opened by Alaric Maude apparently, someone who has been heavily involved in the development of school geography in Australia. It's a useful counterpoint to Kit Rackley's poetry performance at the GA Conference Teachmeet, which I will blog about in a week or so.

Melting glaciers

Melting glaciers logoMelting glaciers – a new website that is part of the project Icelandic Glaciers – a natural laboratory to study climate change, Melting Glaciers for short. The Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources has appointed the Vatnajökull National Park in cooperation with the Icelandic Meteorological Office to implement the project, in collaboration with the South East Iceland Nature Research Center and the Institute of Earth Sciences of the University of Iceland. The goal of the project, which is a part of the government’s climate change agenda, is to increase awareness about climate change and the associated consequences for glaciers in Iceland and elsewhere.

The FRIENDS of Vatnajökull Association funded part of the educational website.

An attractive website worth a look.

GA Conference 2019 - Post #3 - Narrative Led Curriculum session

I've been preparing for my session at the GA Conference which is later today.
This is about the development of a Narrative Led Curriculum: including a range of ideas for using books and other narratives in lessons.
There are quite a few people who have shared what they do. I have also had people send tweets and other ideas on books they have used.

Mission:Explore got a few mentions, which is good to see.

Paul Turner at Bedales has had links between his curriculum for his BACs and books for some years now, with a Key Text for each topic, and often working with the authors or inviting them in to speak as well. You can read more about Paul's work here.

Kate Stockings has shared some ideas on what she has been using as well. She has a SoW based on the book 'The Almighty Dollar', which looks excellent. Kate kindly shares a lot of the work that she does.

There's also a free map showing the locations of books, produced by @MrACDPresent

There were quite a few mentions for 'Factfulness'. My SoW based around this is available from this Google Drive link, and I've also connected with Anna Rosling Ronnlund over this, and work on Dollar Street.

Some tweets:

Stories also make us who we are. Carys Davies wrote an excellent piece on this.

Facebook led me to a few more suggestions.
Jo Baynham suggested 'Journey to Jo'burg' by Beverley Naidoo to support a topic on South Africa with Year 7, and also the 'The Journey Home' picture book to get students thinking about ecosystems.

Emma Espley suggested 'The Week Junior' journal for looking at topical issues.

David Rogers suggested 'Desert Solitaire' by Edward Abbey. He used descriptions from this book to introduce students to the features of the Arches National Park and some geomorphological processes.

Andrew Lee led me to a story of a school that was returning to books having previously used iPads for all pupils.

Susan Pike mentioned 'Once upon a Place' by Eoin Colfer.

Which books have you used in your KS3 sessions?