Thinking Geographically, Malcolm McInerney, AGTA Chair


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The workshop examines the question of what it means to think geographically. With the Australian Curriculum: Geography to be taught in many Australian schools by non-geography teachers, the issue of what it means to think geography will need to be explored during professional learning activities in coming years. Through the use of the Australian Curriculum: Geography concepts and a range of thinkpieces, the workshop will develop with participants a model of geographical thinking, which identifies the teaching of geography as a unique experience, quite different to the thinking in other disciplines.

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Thinking Geographically, Malcolm McInerney, AGTA Chair

  3. 3. GEOGRAPHICAL THINKINGWe know what it is but can we articulatehow a geographer thinks?The p ublic p e rc e p tio n o f g e o g ra p hyis a s a fa c t-ba s e d ra the r tha nc o nc e p tua l d is c ip line . Pe te r Ja c ks o n2006•The geographers headset•Through the eyes of a geographer
  4. 4. “I’m a geographer, frankly, I’m proud of that fact .” I meet someoneeven if I have to explain whenexactly what it is a geographer does.” Can you spot a geographer from just looking at them?
  5. 5. It was decided that it is through the concepts that we can identify geographical thinkingWhat is a concept?• A general idea derived from specificinstances or occurrences• Something formed in the mind, a thought or notion• An abstract or psychological thing that can be understood,operate with, and apply• May lead into judgments, propositions or even theories• Concepts have a tendency to be referred to in connectionwith the general rather than singular terms• Are often used to organise/group and classify thoughts• May be based on a generalisation, abstraction or occurrence
  6. 6. THE CONCEPT SMORGASBOARD from the AC: Geography Shape Paper •change • place •distance • process • diversity • proximity • relationship • interaction • risk • interdependence • scale • landscape • space • location • spatial distribution • pattern • sustainability • system • perception
  7. 7. Fine tuning the concepts• What are the key Geographical concepts to build a curriculum around?• What concepts best reflect and enhance geographical thinking?• How many can we say are major and imperative concepts for geographical thinking?
  8. 8. Conceptual questions to muse over• The 7 major concepts have related concepts dovetailed into them.• What then are the related concepts?• Are they just geographical concepts – does geography own them?• Are these concepts what makes geography geography and unique?• Are all of the 7 concepts of equal importance?• Geographical thinking is more than just spatial thinking!
  9. 9. CONCEPTS: THE LENS AND KEY TO GEOGRAPHICAL THINKING• As a discipline, geography is based on a series of concepts that fundamentally underpin the geographical approach to the world.• They provide a framework and common language to thinking geographically.• These concepts are the lenses through which geographers view the features, activities, processes, phenomena and issues of our earth in the past, present and future.THINKING AND QUESTIONING USING THE GEOGRAPHICAL CONCEPTS
  11. 11. Thegeographical Locationconcept meaning humanwheel sustainability pattern distribution diversity uniqueness natural identity interconnection local-global trends density processes characteristics proximity futures Human- intangible virtual environment relative sustainability links Impact of change time consistency association pace system dynamic flow movement interdependence system equilibrium zoom interconnection futures directions measurement change Triple bottom line system distance hierarchies change ecology biosphere local-global Generational biodiversity space equity Non-living living interconnection maps justice Human-physical processes sustainability
  12. 12. Place• Place describes specific areas of the Earth’s surface, and range from a small place such as a classroom, through to a local area, to a country to a major world region and the solar system. The uniqueness of places is closely linked to identity and culture• The characteristics of places that are studied in geography include population, climate, economy, landforms, built environment, soils and vegetation, communities, water resources, cultures, minerals, landscape, and recreational and scenic quality.• Some characteristics are tangible, such as rivers and buildings, while others are intangible, such as wilderness and socioeconomic status.
  13. 13. Space• Space refers to the location of human features, such as a town or a specificbuilding. Space also refers to the location of natural features, such as a rainforestor a specific habitat.• Human and natural features have locations within space.• Space is also about the distribution of human and natural features, including thepattern of those distributions.• The world is organised spatially i.e. location, distribution and pattern.
  14. 14. What is the difference between place andspace? A fundamental question forteachers teaching geography.
  15. 15. Environment • The concept of environment refers to the biosphere including living and non- living elements. • The environment has intrinsic value and is essential to, and interconnected with on-going human wellbeing. • Environments which have been significantly altered and created by human activities such as rural or built environments (constructed urban places) are sub sets of the bio-physical environment
  16. 16. Change• Places, environments and spatial patterns alter over time.• Changes may be quite slow as is the movement of the tectonic plates or they might be quite rapid as the advancement of a bushfire.• Places, environments and spatial patterns may be in a state of equilibrium or inertia with little change occurring over a long period of time until an event such as a flood, cyclone or political decision occurs, which rapidly alters the place, environments or patterns.• Social changes may be rapidly accepted, gradually accepted or actively and passively resisted.
  17. 17. Interconnection •Interconnection refers to the linking of places, environments and spatial patterns either by tangible links such as roads, railways or by intangible links such as political, economic systems or electronic systems. •Places, environments and systems may also be linked by cause and effect relationships between them. •Interconnections are important in understanding why things are changing or need to be changed in different places or environments. •Interconnections may occur between environmental and environmental (effect on water on soil), human and human (impact of political decision on industry) or between environmental and human processes (impact of water on cities).
  18. 18. Sustainability • Sustainability addresses the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life. • Sustainability is a broad social goal linking on-going natural environmental (ecological) wellbeing with human (social and economic) wellbeing
  19. 19. Scale • Scale is about the hierarchy of divisions from the personal to the local, regional, national, world, regional, global and sometimes, universal. Where are the 4 corners of the earth
  20. 20. Thegeographicalconcept wheel meaning Location human diversity sustainability natural pattern uniqueness distribution identity trends local-global proximity density processes characteristics virtual futures Human- intangible environment relative sustainability links Impact of change time consistency association pace system flow movement dynamic interdependence equilibrium system zoom interconnection futures directions measurement Triple bottom line change distance ecology system hierarchies change biosphere local-global Generational biodiversity space equity living Non-living justice maps interconnection Human-physical sustainability processes
  21. 21. The deconstruction and subsequent construction of knowledge/content using the key concepts when studying geography = geographical thinkingDeveloping geographical understanding
  22. 22. A GEOGRAPHICAL INQUIRY OF BRISBANE WATER SUPPLY Harvest 1.Collect all the information you know about Brisbane water supply. 2. View through the geographical concepts of: Place SpaceDeconstruct Environment Change Interaction Sustainability ScaleConstruct 3. Based on the concepts pose the geographicalQuestion questions for inquiry (can?, should?, what if? why not?)
  23. 23. PRIMARY STAGES OF LEARNING IN GEOGRAPHY Foundation Year: People live in placesYear 1: Places have distinctive featuresYear 2: People are connected to many placesYear 3: Places are both similar and differentYear 4: People have a relationship with theenvironmentYear 5: Human and environmental processesshape places a ftYear 6: People belong to a diverse world dr
  24. 24. 7 – 10 Year Level Units dra• Water in the world (7) ft• Places in which to live (7)• Landforms and landscapes (8)• Shaping the Nation (8)• Biomes and food security (9)• People experiencing and making geography (9)• Environmental challenges and geography (10)• Global geographies of human well-being (10)
  26. 26. SINGH HAN So what!This is data attached to place – we call it spatial dataand it is the raw material for modern geography.
  27. 27.