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Through the eyes of young observers: Geographers Imagine, Image and Create Futures, Margaret Robertson


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How many times have we paused to consider what it is that goes on in the online worlds of young people? Should we just see their behaviour (and ours) as being that other world – be it Facebook, twitter, digital games or ‘research’ – or should we be aligning our teaching approaches with the realities of ever on networked spaces? If we take the latter approach and get networked in our teaching then what of the other world of real world spaces, real time and real people living their everyday lives. In truth geographers are in the ‘box seat’ to blend the new with the old. We can use the ever changing and expanding array of ‘apps’ and explore understandings of the world around us in ways that are dynamic and with opportunities to model alternative futures – all within the constructs of geography, its standards and its traditions. It’s the best time to be a geographer and we have a new curriculum that reflects the challenges of our times. Remember to look out the window!

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Through the eyes of young observers: Geographers Imagine, Image and Create Futures, Margaret Robertson

  1. 1. Through the eyes of young observers – Geographers imagine, image and create futures Margaret Robertson Professor of Education La Trobe University, Melbourne Annual conference, July 2012
  2. 2. The Olympic Magic Tweets; Blogs; Facebook Iphone; GIS??; Pics etc etc
  3. 3. The Formal Context – three aligned (?) mantras• The Australian Curriculum – Geography. SeeAustralia n Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority• Professional standards for accomplished school geography teaching See project was partly funded through an Australian Research Council Linkages grant. It is aninitiative of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne;Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) ; Geography Teachers’ Association of Victoria(GTAV) ; Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT)• Geographers’ capabilities (Bachelor’s degree). See These Threshold Learning Outcomes were endorsed in November 2010 by the: Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Geography, Australian Geography Teachers’ Association, Geographical Society of New South Wales, Institute of Australian Geographers, Royal Geographical Society of Queensland, and Royal Geographical Society of South Australia.
  4. 4. The ‘real world’ Geography and the world of work• For reference see the Report on the Spatial industry at• Consider the workforce tiers: - industry, trades, professions, and….• Highlights the commodification of GIS or photogrammetry or geoinformatics in everyday life.• Everybody ‘trades’ in geospatial data!! Our challenge – joining the dots for students, policy makers and schooling
  5. 5. The dilemmaWhat stays? What’s changed?• All the old concepts of • The concepts are the knowing, thinking, and same, but…. doing remain • Our tools have turned labours of love and endless hours of – Space and place hand drawing, recording and – Distributions and patterns processing into instant sources – Interconnectedness of ‘endpoints’; ‘products’; – Mapping ‘outcomes’. – Planning • AND, kids are our best trainers to ‘get good’ with them – if we – Fieldwork let them!! However….history is – Questioning and discovering important for pointing the way
  6. 6. 1675? The Orient Nicola Bailleul le Jeune, 1750 Geography ‘Matters’ Early charts Hollandia Nova detecta 1644 ; Terre Australe decouuerte lan 1644
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  9. 9. Colonial artist’s view of the indigenous landscape – paintingby John Glover of Tasmanian Aborigines - 1837 9
  10. 10. Olegas Truchanas – explorer, photographer inspirational leader of the conservation literature and wilderness ethic (1923-72). A passionate advocate for the beauty, rarity and unique features of nature. A ‘new’ landscape aesthetic – the home of the ‘Greens’!Lake Pedder, 1960s 10
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  12. 12. 1937 Tokyo earthquake, 1923 12
  13. 13. Recent past...predicting our times..geography is seen as having moved from acatalogue of facts about the earth’s surfaceto a reasoned description of the influence ofphysical factors on human activities andmore recently to a science of spatialcorrelations, i.e. the study of relationshipsbetween difference distributions on theearth’s surface. (Graves, 1972, p.18) 13
  14. 14. East meets West in 2010 via satellite imagery 14
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  16. 16. FromThis in 1996 – Land Use UKproject To this in 2009 16
  17. 17. So what are the ‘threats’?
  18. 18. Pandora/s …worlds.
  19. 19. Helmut’s world - Parkour
  20. 20. ‘Modern Geography’• Borders – redefined: it’s personal, now and immediate• Expeditions – RGS; risk taking• Twitteratterie – short bites• E-democracy – personalised learning – ‘counter geographies’• Energy – personal zest for living, making things happen• Bio-security; well-being and health• Building optimism (anti-pessimism)• Doing versus sitting• Curiosity and wonder for all that’s happening• Updating updating updating eg world bank figures• Anti-stereotypes• Valuing the past….???
  21. 21. The personal tools – ubiquitous! Country 2001 2009 2010-11World 15.6 69.0 78.2Algeria 78.6 92.4Argentina 18.1 128.8 141.8Australia 110.7 100.9Bangladesh 46.2Chile 96.9 116.0China 11.4 56.1 64.2Egypt 87.1Finland 80.5 144.2 144.2Germany 128.9 127.9Japan 58.8 90.1 94.7Korea, Rep. 61.3 98.4 103.9Papua NG 27.8Saudi Arabia 12.0 176.7 187.9Singapore 72.3 133.4 145.5Thailand 103.6UK 78.3 144.2 130.3US 45.1 97.2 90.2Vietnam 1.6 130.0 177.2Yemen 0.8 46.1 The World Bank – mobile phones per 100 people
  22. 22. And, our planet earth…hence the big issues thatneed our guidance as teachers of geography are..• Sustainability – what does it mean?• Climate change• Governance – Shifting East. – The ‘west’ meets Feng Shui• Bio-security• Energy• Mobilities – actual and virtual – Employment (eg mining industry)• New ‘imaginaries’ or landscape aesthetics for living our lives. Revaluing nature!
  23. 23. Series editors: John Chi-Kin Lee; Michael Williams and Philip StimpsonSee also Robertson, M. & Lee, J. (2009) From School-based Curriculum to Whole-schoolApproaches to School Development. In J.Lee & M.Williams (Eds) Schooling for SustainableDevelopment In China: Experience With Younger Children. Dordrecht: Springer
  24. 24. Building confidence to meet these major societal shifts requires..• Clear vision of what counts• Resilience to make change happen• Good support networks• Professional development – ongoing• ‘Time out’ to reflect – often• Working collaboratively with colleagues in all disciplines and• Negotiating pathways for learning – one size does not fit all! 2 projects to illustrate..
  25. 25. A strong multi-discipline focus• Bringing together physical/natural and social sciences• Collaborative projects• Building from local initiatives• Creating opportunities• Sharing resources• Encouraging ‘understanding’…..
  26. 26. Case Study samples from Australia,UK, The Netherlands, Kenya,Finland, Singapore, Taiwan, US,Colombia, Chile
  27. 27. Contributors• Margaret Robertson (La Trobe Uni – Australia and UK)• Sirpa Tani (University of Helsinki)• Taina Kaivola and Hannele Rikkinen (Uni. of Helsinki)• Tene Beneker (Uni. Of Utrecht, The Netherlands)• Geok Chin Ivy TAN (NIE, Singapore)• Rex Walford, Molly Warrington and Margaret Robertson (University of Cambridge)• Sarah Shucksmith and Molly Warrington (Uni. of Cambridge)• Jeremy Chan (NTNU Taiwan)• Osvaldo Muniz-Solari and Carmen Brysch (Texas State University)• Ximena Cortés-Quezada (Universidad de La Serena) and Osvaldo Muniz-Solari• Ruth Quiroz-Posada (Universidad de Antioquia, Medellin) and Osvaldo Muñiz-Solari
  28. 28. Research Aims To capture the views and visions that young people (ages 12 years and 15 years) have of the world . [Much of the information gained relates to free-flowing conversations with volunteer students.] Gather cross cultural input for comparisons Attempt to collate these views from diverse cultures and backgroundsGlobal themes grounded in situated realities of local communities
  29. 29. Common methodology – modified Delphi technique• Step 1: personal ‘brainstorm’ GOALS OTHER - SELF LEISURE NOMINATING ACTIVITIES PUZZLES ME FAMILY DREAMS SCHOOL FAVOURITE PLACES
  30. 30. Background studies• Robertson, M & Gerber, R (2001) Childrens Ways of Knowing: Learning Through Experience, Camberwell, Australia, ACER Press.• Robertson, M & Williams, M (2004) Young People, Leisure and Place: Cross-cultural Perspectives, Hauppauge, N.Y., Nova Science Publishers.• Robertson, M & Gerber, R (2007) Childrens Lifeworlds: Locating Indigenous Voices, New York, Nova Scientific.• Abbott Chapman, J & Robertson, M (2009) Adolescents favourite places: redefining the boundaries between private and public space, Space and Culture, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.419-434.• Robertson, M (2009) Young "netizens" creating public citizenship in cyberspace, International Research in Geographical and Environment Education, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp.287-293.
  31. 31. Small group studies – Rural Victoria (Australia)
  32. 32. Step 2: sharing and collating
  33. 33. Step 3: Collating the responses in focus groups
  34. 34. Laura : My first future concern is my job. I’ll be 24 in 2020 and I would like to havemade it as an author by then, or at least a reporter for some sort of newspaper ormagazine. My next concern diseases. I would want to have my health, friends andfamilies health good.Claudia : One of my future concerns is probably finding a job that I can earn money fromand also one that I will enjoy doing. Step 4: Presenting their ideas
  35. 35. Singapore
  36. 36. Kenya
  37. 37. Haarlem – The Netherlands
  38. 38. Peterborough - UK
  39. 39. US - Texas
  40. 40. Taiwan
  41. 41. Colombia
  42. 42. Chile
  43. 43. Summary themes – tentative• Focus on personal ambitions – education, jobs, money and success. At a ‘home’ level they appear optimistic.• Concerns repeated in all transcripts – Climate change – Global poverty – Drought – Pollution – Health well being – drugs, obesity and violence issues – Technology .......not so much. It IS!!!
  44. 44. Educational Outreach and Futures Thinking• Relationships are fundamental to success• Local and global must intersect• The ‘everyday’ requires research, knowledge building and respect• Communities start from a place – fixed in real space and time OR in virtual space and time• Young people think and act differently – they have creative ideas and practices that are fundamental to our futures
  45. 45. Our challenges conceptually are... The role of Thethe individual The concept relationship Can we How we and of the state; between imagine..... Can we lift Can we adapt construct new aesthetics in its curriculum absolute and other places ourselves to to change and visions in neo-liberal and relative and embrace promote such politics ‘flat’ mandated space. (eg space/time liberty? hope? contexts? world outcomes world city relationship utopianism concept) 54
  46. 46. Towards a new curriculum, from..The Four Traditions of Geography (Pattison, 1963)• Spatial tradition• An area studies tradition• A man [sic]-land tradition, and• An earth science tradition. 55
  47. 47. To..a new theoretical approach based on the old and… Personalised enquiry based learning Negotiated curriculum and knowledge content Co-learning with peers and teachers Fieldwork, discovery and learning by doing GIS and applications of digital technologies to spatial data analysis The imperative of tolerance, understanding and cooperation. Assessment based on geographical reasoning and process Regular student led reviews and feedback sessions A focus on humanity and the soul of civilization 56
  48. 48. Perceptions of Environments as a complex web of interactions Refer: Zimmerman, 2010
  49. 49. Teaching challenge - helping children to become global citizens. We need‘smart’ classrooms, fresh thinking and courage. 58
  50. 50. Time to get on our bikes!
  51. 51. …and provide time for learning…perhaps even invent new rules 60
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