Transforming Tired Topics


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A presentation by the Geographical Association's Secondary Phase Committee delivered at the GA's Annual Conference in Manchester 2009

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  • Transforming Tired Topics

    1. 1. ‘ Transforming Tired Topics’ Fred Martin Tom Biebrach Alan Parkinson GA Secondary Phase Committee
    2. 3. But... Some of them could do with a polish...
    3. 4. Made at
    4. 5. Ox Bow Lakes in Siberia from 30 000 ft by Fred Martin
    5. 6. ‘ Tired topic’ alert <ul><li>What has been taught for many years – core topics/themes, content </li></ul><ul><li>Taught them in the same way </li></ul><ul><li>Use the same case studies </li></ul><ul><li>Resources date – technology moves on </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas not updated – context changes </li></ul>
    6. 7. Text book 2009 Text book 1983
    7. 9. How topics tire <ul><li>Outside influences – Exam Boards set courses </li></ul><ul><li>Repetition of topics </li></ul><ul><li>Time to innovate </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of Inset to update ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Updating can cost </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of assessment credit for updated ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Personal ideas become stuck </li></ul><ul><li>Disjuncture with ideas in HE geography </li></ul><ul><li>Other agendas - </li></ul>Literacy Numeracy AfL etc.
    8. 11. Topics mentioned by teachers... Brazil – Soils - Human geography “a bit depressing’- Lapse rates - Specific skills e.g. Cross sections - Map-skills- “Almost all settlement”- Global fashion- Mass movement – Statistics “I can’t do maths...”- Football - Rossby waves- Farming- Weather and climate - Meanders and river processes - Shopping hierarchies – EU - Regional inequalities in Italy
    9. 12. Are there any ‘tired topics’? <ul><li>Is the teacher or the topic ‘tired’? </li></ul><ul><li>There is no definitive list of ‘tired topics’ </li></ul><ul><li>All topics need to be updated </li></ul><ul><li>Reminders of the range of approaches that are possible – ‘good’ subject teaching </li></ul>
    10. 13. <ul><li>‘… ..we may need to throw out crusty old favourites … ‘ </li></ul><ul><li>David Lambert </li></ul><ul><li>A Different View (manifesto) </li></ul>
    11. 14. So how do we ‘polish’ tired t . . . . . ? topics
    12. 15. Student Voices Hadleigh School, Suffolk Thanks to Dale Banham, Suffolk Adviser Video clip
    13. 16. What do the students say ? Students are from a school in a small town in Suffolk, which has the Secondary Geography Quality Mark, and is also a ‘Centre of Excellence’ – it has superb exam results and an impressive take up for Geography at Key Stage 4
    14. 17. Teacher voices... Survey on SLN
    15. 18. Developing empathy for the geographies of others “what has it got to do with me ?”
    16. 19. “ The debate is about how we teach, not what we teach: pace and challenge, innovation, personalisation...”
    17. 20. “ Important that topics we don’t enjoy should at no time be obvious to the pupils...”
    18. 21. “ Following someone else’s SoW... I can only tell my own story in my own way.....”
    19. 22. Context GCSE Specifications have changed <ul><li>Which one have you gone for and why ? </li></ul><ul><li>In each one there may be topics that you are not looking forward to teaching quite as much as others... </li></ul>
    20. 23. Teaching Tired Topics A Case Study
    21. 24. Chicago, 1925 Manchester, 2009 What is the connection?
    22. 25. Burgess Concentric Ring Model, 1925 Source -
    23. 26. Criticism <ul><li>“ The original highly debateable, land-use models of the Chicago school (Burgess, 1925) have been adapted to the English [and Welsh] situation with repeated attempts made to ‘fit’ any given urban area to the Burgess concentric ring model. The result has been an urban geography which has failed to capture the dynamism and complexity of the real world…” (Rawding, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Geographers [should] question established concepts and jettison those which are no longer useful for making sense of the urban experience.” (Hubbard, 2006) </li></ul>
    24. 27. Alternative approach to land use mapping – Google Earth ‘street view’ CBD Older terraced housing C.19 th Later housing (1930s-1950s) Modern housing Retail and leisure Industrial estates
    25. 28. View from above… <ul><li>“ Official accounts of city life (maps, census, plans etc) write the city from the point of view of an authoritative, privileged male.” </li></ul><ul><li>Miles (2002) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The search for the essence of the city is one that impels urban researchers to look at the city from different vantage points and viewing angles…There can never be a unified theory of cities, only knowledges written from particular viewing angles in particular places and times.” </li></ul><ul><li>Hubbard (2006) </li></ul>
    26. 29. View from within Where am I? What can I see? What can I hear? What do I feel about this place? How could/should this place change in the future? Google Earth Street view…the modern day flâneur (or voyeur?) How has this place changed?
    27. 30. More information <ul><li>Hall, Hubbard & Short (Eds.) (2008) The Sage Companion to the City Sage, London </li></ul><ul><li>Hubbard, P. (2006) City Routledge, Oxford. </li></ul><ul><li>Rawding C. (2007) Reading our Landscapes Chris Kington, London </li></ul><ul><li>Google Earth </li></ul><ul><li>GA SPC </li></ul>
    28. 31. “ There are only ever choices.... When choices are made and accepted by a sufficient number of teachers, they tend to become 'common sense‘” (Noel Castree, 2005) The choices YOU make are all important !
    29. 32. “ The best teachers will provide a narrative that engages and thrills. There’s always a story to be told and I think it’s possible to make any topic interesting, at least for one lesson anyway...”
    30. 33. “ Weather came out bottom in popularity amongst the students, so I am trying to rework it as ‘extreme weather’... I get the nagging feeling that I am ‘selling out’...
    31. 34. Lampedusa
    32. 35. Plastiki
    33. 36. Using movies
    34. 37. Your challenge <ul><li>Can you talk for one minute about a topic without.... </li></ul><ul><li>REPETITION – using the same word more than once </li></ul><ul><li>HESITATION – a pause, or ‘erm’... </li></ul><ul><li>DEVIATION – getting off the topic </li></ul>
    35. 38. Manifesto Link
    36. 40. The lesson doesn’t end when the lesson ends... <ul><li>Continued feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter (@GeoBlogs) </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of topics that you’ve woken up... </li></ul><ul><li>Image by DHDesign </li></ul><ul><li>Presentation on Slideshare </li></ul>
    37. 41. Acknowledgements <ul><li>Thanks to other members of GA SPC </li></ul><ul><li>Thanks to members of SLN Geography Forum for comments </li></ul><ul><li>Thanks to Dale Banham and pupils of Hadleigh High School for their insights </li></ul>