Sheffield Centenary Lecture


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The Centenary Lecture, delivered by Professor David Lambert on the 13th of November at Sheffield University Geography Department. Introduced by Peter Jackson, it explores the place of geography within the school curriculum.

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Sheffield Centenary Lecture

  1. 1. Geography in schools: misplaced or misheard ? David Lambert
  2. 2. Some preliminaries <ul><ul><li>A commitment to education (in its broadest sense) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ to travel with a different view’ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The role of subject disciplines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ ways of seeing’ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The broader context of the school curriculum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>tradition vs new </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>old knowledge vs new knowledge </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>knowledge vs learning </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Broad Context A ‘twenty-first century curriculum’ cannot have the transfer of knowledge at its core: What knowledge would we select in an information rich age? We live in a ‘knowledge economy’: so what actually constitutes knowledge? OECD proposes four types of knowledge: Know-what, know-why, know-how and know-who. While the traditional school curriculum is dominated by know-what (‘factual knowledge’), there is growing demand for the latter three.
  4. 4. Broad Context “ ATL proposes a national curriculum model which starts with pupil needs and interests and is designed in terms of the skills and attitudes that we want pupils to acquire and develop.” [ATL (2006) Position Statement: Subject to Change ]
  5. 5. Broad Context <ul><li>See also: </li></ul><ul><li>RSA Opening Minds (‘competences’) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>FutureLab Enquiring Minds </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>QCA Big Picture : confident individuals, successful learners, responsible citizens </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  6. 6. Intentions <ul><li>To analyse how geography in education is sometimes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not fully appreciated (it is ‘mis-heard’) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>absent from, or undervalued in, the school curriculum (it is ‘mis-placed’) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Geographical Content “ defined not as a collection of facts but as the state of the art conceptual frameworks of the subject” [p 242] Marsden, B. (1997) ‘On taking the geography out of geographical education’, Geography , 82, 3, p 241-252
  8. 8. Geographical Content <ul><li>What are the ‘central and cherished aspects of geographical education’ (Haggett 1996)? </li></ul><ul><li>Landscape, Place, Spatial conundrums </li></ul><ul><li>Sensitivity to place connections at a variety of scales </li></ul>
  9. 9. Geographical Content Or, according to Allen and Massey (1995): ‘ We live in local versions of the world and in so doing we have to locate ourselves within a wider global context. We only understand the changes taking place in our own backyard when we begin to understand how changes taking place elsewhere affect our world’ (p1)
  10. 10. What is geography? According to Alastiar Bonnett (2008) “ Geography is a fundamental fascination. It is also a core component of a good education. … (It) is one of humanity’s big ideas.” (p1) “ Its ambition is absurdly vast. But we know it would be more absurd to abandon it.” (p28)
  11. 11. What is Geography? Ron Johnston in 1985: ‘ the study of Earth as the home of mankind’
  12. 12. In what ways is geography ‘misheard’? <ul><li>The purposes of geography are not clear enough </li></ul><ul><li>The purposes of geography do not resonate </li></ul><ul><li>Geography is submerged by, or is considered of secondary importance to, other matters </li></ul>
  13. 13. The rise of ‘educational processes’ and the fall of ‘subjects’ “ In general, educational theorists strongly favoured integration, dismissing subject-based syllabuses as mere social constructions and/or historical accidents.” [p 247] Marsden, B. (1997) ‘On taking the geography out of geographical education’, Geography , 82, 3, p 241-252
  14. 14. Educational Processes <ul><li>Child centredness </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated studies </li></ul><ul><li>Transferable skills </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking skills </li></ul><ul><li>Pedagogy </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment </li></ul>
  15. 15. (Re)balancing subject and pedagogy When ‘pedagogical adventures’ dominate, understanding may lack: coherence purpose perspective criticality ‘ rigour’
  16. 16. Subjects and Social Purposes (‘Good Causes’) “ good causes tend to generate inculcation and indoctrination rather than genuine education” [p 244] encouraging a “… debilitating anti-intellectualism” [p 249]
  17. 17. Social Purposes (‘Good Causes’) <ul><li>Some contemporary ‘good causes’: </li></ul><ul><li>Citizenship (incorporating ‘Britishness’) </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable Development (incorporating global climate change) </li></ul><ul><li>Global dimension (incorporating the ‘war on poverty’) </li></ul>
  18. 18. ‘ Curriculum corruption’ ‘ Over the past two decades the school curriculum has been estranged from the challenge of educating children’ (Whelan 2007 p1) eg the promotion of ‘global citizenship’ values (by government, NGOs and subject associations) at the expense of knowledge and understanding .
  19. 19. Balancing subject, pedagogy and educational aims and purposes Have we failed to communicate the value of a “distinctively geographical approach” and its contribution to the education of children and young people?
  20. 20. Taking stock <ul><li>The significance of the current curriculum reforms for geography teachers? </li></ul><ul><li>Putting right perceived inadequacies of the National Curriculum (eg over-prescription) </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasising curriculum thinking (eg aims) </li></ul><ul><li>Re-engaging with the subject resources (eg teachers as ‘curriculum makers’) </li></ul>
  21. 21. Subject programmes of study A new look at subjects Importance Why the subject matters and how it contributes to the aims Less prescribed content but an increased focus on subject discipline… the key ideas and skills that underpin a subject . Curriculum opportunities contexts for learning Range and content knowledge and understanding Key processes skills and ways of thinking Key concepts essential ideas
  22. 22. Geographical Content (2008 KS3) <ul><li>Place </li></ul><ul><li>Space </li></ul><ul><li>Scale </li></ul><ul><li>Interdependence </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Interaction and sustainable development </li></ul><ul><li>Physical and Human processes </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Understanding and Diversity </li></ul>
  23. 23. Student experiences and curiosity Geography: the subject resource Teacher knowledge, skills and experience Underpinned by Key Concepts Thinking Geographically Learning Activity How does this take the learner beyond what they already know?
  24. 24. Curriculum Making in an Educational Context To introduce ideals which inspire and are worth pursuing To introduce a defensible set of values which can sustain young people into the future To encourage the disposition to take responsibility for self, the environment and wider community To provide insights into the physical, moral, social, cultural and economic worlds To prepare young people for employment - through self knowledge, basic competences and understanding and confidence in learning Source: The Nuffield 14-19 Review
  25. 25. Concluding comments <ul><li>We need to re-purpose subjects for ‘new times’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘knowledge society’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘urgency’ of our times </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We need to develop models of ‘strong inter-disciplinarity’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Working in the borderlands, in ”a scholarly world with faded disciplinary boundary lines.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We need to give teachers time to think about </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- traditions in education and the subject discipline. That is, about knowledge and wisdom, not just skills and competences </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Implications for teachers of Geography Teachers as ‘curriculum makers‘ need to draw from a rigorous understanding of the ways geography operates as a discipline – to think synoptically about the subject.
  27. 27. What might a 21 st century geography curriculum look like?
  28. 28. Should we allow the sea to reclaim areas of coastline ?
  29. 29. Have we seen the end of cheap food ?
  30. 30. What is the impact of immigration into the UK ?
  31. 31. Should we start building nuclear power stations again ?
  32. 32. Is the world’s climate really changing because of us ?
  33. 33. Should people whose homes have been built on floodplains still expect to be able to insure their house ?
  34. 34. Where does London ‘end’ ?
  35. 35. Is the world becoming a riskier place ?
  36. 36. Do we really care about local shops ? Or do we prefer ‘Tesco’ ?
  37. 37. London 2012: a Gold medal choice ?
  38. 38. London 2012: A Gold medal choice ? Can we solve the problem of ‘waste’?
  39. 39. Are our streets really less safe?
  40. 40. Steel: Sheffield or Saudi?
  41. 41. Can an entire country disappear?
  42. 42. What valuable perspectives can geography contribut e to the study of …. Me and My Place in the World African Crises Asia Buddhism China Colonialism Conflict Cultural Diversity Darfur , Development Energy security Environment Exploitation Trade Food security Foreign Policy Futures Generosity & Greed Genocide Global Warming Globalization Human Rights Interdependence Landscapes and Change Latin America Middle East Natural Disaster s Physical and Human Interactions Poverty & Hunger Refugees Scale Solutions Values Violence & Inhumanity War & Peace Waste Water security Wealth Well-being
  43. 43. Find us at Geographical Association Action Plan for Geography