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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Using a social justice framework to consider
the application of a GeoCapabilities approach
in secondary schools serving young people in
less privileged social and economic
communities
Mary Biddulph
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
In GeoCapabilties 3, Social Justice has come to
mean a set of ideas that have underpinned the
processes and the outcomes of the project.
There are 4 concepts that capture what social
justice means:
Distributive Justice
Relational Justice
Agency
Mutuality
Social Justice: Key concepts
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Social Justice is central to the work of Amartya Sen and
Martha Nussbaum, and their ideas about adopting a
‘Capabilities Approach’ to welfare economics.
Social Justice is also central to the work of Michael Young
and his ideas about Powerful Knowledge.
Both the ‘Capabilities Approach’ and ‘Powerful
Knowledge’ informed the conceptualization of
‘GeoCapabilities’
Why Social Justice?
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
How can we ensure that
powerful knowledge is not
for an affluent few, but for
all young people
regardless of their class,
ethnicity, gender identity
and ability.
Why Social Justice?
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Why Social Justice:
Who do we teach?
https://www.geocapabilities.org/training-materials/module-2-
curriculum-making-by-teachers/getting-started/
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
http://www.geocapabilities.org
Why Social Justice?
The broader context….
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Distributive justice is about the fair or
unfair distribution of material and non-
material goods such as education.
The biggest problem is in finding actual
data and information on what is
happening with migrant workers or
temporary asylum seekers in the EU.
What is the success of integration,
what is the success rate of returning
rejected asylum seekers?
Distributive Justice
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Relational justice
emphasises
connectedness, and is
about enabling and
encouraging groups
and communities to
work together.
Relational Justice
A lot of our kids have very weak cultural
capital. They don’t have exposure to different
groups of people and places, even the positive
things about migration. We do one cultural
event each year where we bring lots of different
food and fashion, but apart from that they
don’t. And they have no awareness of how
different cultures affect the music they listen to
and their daily life, like Rap and grime which
originate elsewhere
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Agency refers to an individual
and/or community’s ability to
act independently from others,
exercise free choice and so
make decisions free from
coercion
Agency is not about freedom to
act selfishly and with greed, it is
about being free from
oppression and having the
capacity to choose.
Agency
We use the textbook in a quite traditional
way. There is a lot of pressure and lack of
time to develop our own teaching materials.
We really would like to do some more of that
and link the teaching on migration better to
the background of our students and their
neighbourhoods
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Mutuality refers to the ways
Individuals and groups are
mutually dependent on each
other in a socially just society.
It refers to the balance
between the rights and
responsibilities of of
individuals and those of
communities.
Mutuality
I’ve been really uncomfortable with some of the
views the kids are expressing, even from those
from recent migrant families themselves – it’s
bizarre and I don’t get it, particularly as they
live in London. I think they must be getting
these views from their parents. Views like –
‘there’s not enough jobs, we should send them
home….there’s not enough hospital beds, we
should send them home’and I’ll ask, whose
home is this
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Geographies Pedagogy
Geography and Pedagogy
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Students’
concept maps
Students
completed
concept maps in
small groups as a
way of reflecting
on their learning.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
I understand that
migration is not a bad
thing. It’s not that it was
a bad thing, but like it
can be just a process of
living in another country,
and it may not be illegal,
at first I was like ‘is that
illegal’, but now I
understand.
I think it was Adam’s journey and he was
on the border somewhere, and he made it
through his journey, and he got on his
boat and then he just got stuck, and then
people got him and took him back to
where he was. So he lost all his money, he
was tortured and then he just didn’t make
it anyway.
I would say the discrimination, so like,
sometimes when you move to another
country or another place and sometime
people look at you and think well you
should go back to your country – why are
you here? When all you want is to make it
a happy end. It’s not fair.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Social justice within
GeoCapabilities 3
Working with a range of
schools
Focus on the topic of
migration with its potential
for inbuilt consideration of
social justice
Ethical practice and processes
Democratic ways of working
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors,
and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
http://www.geocapabilities.org
GeoCapabilities 3
Epistemological questions
Action and effect questions
Voice and power questions
Recognition and redistribution questions
Questions to be asked
frequently

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The application of a GeoCapabilities approach using a social justice framework

  • 1. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Using a social justice framework to consider the application of a GeoCapabilities approach in secondary schools serving young people in less privileged social and economic communities Mary Biddulph
  • 2. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 In GeoCapabilties 3, Social Justice has come to mean a set of ideas that have underpinned the processes and the outcomes of the project. There are 4 concepts that capture what social justice means: Distributive Justice Relational Justice Agency Mutuality Social Justice: Key concepts
  • 3. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Social Justice is central to the work of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and their ideas about adopting a ‘Capabilities Approach’ to welfare economics. Social Justice is also central to the work of Michael Young and his ideas about Powerful Knowledge. Both the ‘Capabilities Approach’ and ‘Powerful Knowledge’ informed the conceptualization of ‘GeoCapabilities’ Why Social Justice?
  • 4. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 How can we ensure that powerful knowledge is not for an affluent few, but for all young people regardless of their class, ethnicity, gender identity and ability. Why Social Justice?
  • 5. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Why Social Justice: Who do we teach? https://www.geocapabilities.org/training-materials/module-2- curriculum-making-by-teachers/getting-started/
  • 6. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 http://www.geocapabilities.org Why Social Justice? The broader context….
  • 7. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Distributive justice is about the fair or unfair distribution of material and non- material goods such as education. The biggest problem is in finding actual data and information on what is happening with migrant workers or temporary asylum seekers in the EU. What is the success of integration, what is the success rate of returning rejected asylum seekers? Distributive Justice
  • 8. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Relational justice emphasises connectedness, and is about enabling and encouraging groups and communities to work together. Relational Justice A lot of our kids have very weak cultural capital. They don’t have exposure to different groups of people and places, even the positive things about migration. We do one cultural event each year where we bring lots of different food and fashion, but apart from that they don’t. And they have no awareness of how different cultures affect the music they listen to and their daily life, like Rap and grime which originate elsewhere
  • 9. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Agency refers to an individual and/or community’s ability to act independently from others, exercise free choice and so make decisions free from coercion Agency is not about freedom to act selfishly and with greed, it is about being free from oppression and having the capacity to choose. Agency We use the textbook in a quite traditional way. There is a lot of pressure and lack of time to develop our own teaching materials. We really would like to do some more of that and link the teaching on migration better to the background of our students and their neighbourhoods
  • 10. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Mutuality refers to the ways Individuals and groups are mutually dependent on each other in a socially just society. It refers to the balance between the rights and responsibilities of of individuals and those of communities. Mutuality I’ve been really uncomfortable with some of the views the kids are expressing, even from those from recent migrant families themselves – it’s bizarre and I don’t get it, particularly as they live in London. I think they must be getting these views from their parents. Views like – ‘there’s not enough jobs, we should send them home….there’s not enough hospital beds, we should send them home’and I’ll ask, whose home is this
  • 11. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Geographies Pedagogy Geography and Pedagogy
  • 12. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Students’ concept maps Students completed concept maps in small groups as a way of reflecting on their learning.
  • 13. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 I understand that migration is not a bad thing. It’s not that it was a bad thing, but like it can be just a process of living in another country, and it may not be illegal, at first I was like ‘is that illegal’, but now I understand. I think it was Adam’s journey and he was on the border somewhere, and he made it through his journey, and he got on his boat and then he just got stuck, and then people got him and took him back to where he was. So he lost all his money, he was tortured and then he just didn’t make it anyway. I would say the discrimination, so like, sometimes when you move to another country or another place and sometime people look at you and think well you should go back to your country – why are you here? When all you want is to make it a happy end. It’s not fair.
  • 14. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Social justice within GeoCapabilities 3 Working with a range of schools Focus on the topic of migration with its potential for inbuilt consideration of social justice Ethical practice and processes Democratic ways of working
  • 15. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. http://www.geocapabilities.org GeoCapabilities 3 Epistemological questions Action and effect questions Voice and power questions Recognition and redistribution questions Questions to be asked frequently

Editor's Notes

  1. In GeoCapabilities 3, Social Justice is a set of ideas that have underpinned much of the thinking in the project. In particular, we have considered four key concepts that help us to break down the broader notion of social justice into more workable and manageable ideas. These concepts are: Distributive Justice Relational Justice and Agency. Mutuality In a lot of the research literature about social justice, and specifically about capabilities, These sub-concepts formed the framework for our thinking during he course of the project
  2. In the field of welfare economics, Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum agree that achieving more socially just societies is more complex than, for example, just improving a country’s Gross Domestic Product per capita (GDP). They argue that some countries may have a relatively high GDP per capita, but that this data fails to accurately represent inequalities within countries and fails to get underneath the extent to which different sectors of society can or cannot access resources, opportunities and life-affirming experiences that make their lives worthwhile.   The Capabilities Approach seeks to better understand social inequalities within and between places. Nussbaum argues that a ‘capability’ can be interpreted as a ‘substantial opportunity’ and she links this notion to the idea of justice, asking what should countries be doing in order to enable their citizens to live a dignified life in co-operation with others? Whilst Sen is reluctant to specify any universal capabilities, Nussbaum identifies 10 capabilities that she feels are fundamental to enabling people to live ‘a dignified life’ and that support the development of more socially just (although not necessarily equal) societies.      She contends capabilities can be considered at three distinct scales: The basic capabilities we are all born with, that subsequently allow individual to attain other capabilities. Internal capabilities, meaning the ability to think and understand relevant issues and critically consider choices. Education is crucial to developing internal capabilities. External capabilities refer to the type of life an individual is able to live dependent on, for example, any political, social or cultural constraints put upon them. Freedom of speech or freedom of religious expression are examples of ‘external capabilities. For Michael Young, education should enable all young people to access knowledge that, he argues is powerful. By this he means rather than focus on knowledge that is content heavy or just a lot of facts. Powerful Knowledge is , for Young, knowledge that is derived from subject disciplines like geography and therefore knowledge that is open to question, not fixed, is changeable but also reliable. It is often abstract and theoretical, and so isn’t always easily understood. So at a conceptual level the idea of social justice permeates both capabilities and PK and therefore it seemed that following GeoCapabilities 2, the time was ripe to bring it more to the fore in GeoCapabilties thinking
  3. In Michael Young’s writing he is clear that powerful knowledge should be available to all young people, not just the more affluent few. In GeoCapabilties 3 we have worked with schools where the young people they educate and the communities they serve face economically and socially challenging circumstances. By this we mean, schools that are situated in areas of socio-economic deprivation where unemployment levels are high, standards of living are low and young people’s educational attainment is generally below national averages. These can be schools where emphasis is on behaviour management rather than learning, where student grouping can reinforce educational inequalities and where teachers are often under pressure form both internal and externa surveillance regimes. They are also schools where teacher retention is problematic - problems experienced in England, the USA and many European countries (according to 2018 European Commission report - See et al, 2020) GeoCapabilities 3 is concerned with ways in which teachers working in such schools can enable their students to access to powerful disciplinary knowledge in geography. In terms of school recruitment for GeoCapabiltes 3 , we didn’t apply some sort a statistic criteria for school selectin, rather each partner used their local school networks and our agreement regarding the type of school we wanted to work with to negotiate schools’ participation.
  4. I just want to say a bit more about this notion of young people we teach. In GeoCapbilities 2 three important questions were posed for us to think about : Who are the children we teach? What do the children need to be fully educated in this day and age? How can teaching geography contribute to the education of young people? The diagram here helps us to imagine the nature of the relationship between: children and young people; the purpose of a school geography curriculum; and the contents and processes of the school subject. Here I am particularly interested in the outer circle and its implications for the GeoCapabilities approach. Hammond (2020) observes that the structure of the diagram is significant because young people are presented as emcompassing all other choices and decisions that need to be made about about school geography. The diagram causes us to pause and ask ‘who actually are the children we teach?’ The language of the diagram reminds us that we teach children and young people who are certainly more than just ‘students’ in classroom with exams to pass She argues that before any curriculum making can really take place teachers need to look beyond the ‘student’ persona’’ and really try to get to know and understand the needs, aspirations, hopes and fears of the children in front of them: where are they from, what interest them, what makes them tick, what do they find difficult, and more. In her analysis of the diagram Hammond contends that failure to really understand the children we teach and that failure to see them as more than just school students is likely to lead to uninformed and probably irrelevant curriculum making. It seems obvious that knowing and understanding the children we teach is an essential part of being a good teacher. Yet, It is well documented in research literature that class, gender, ethnicity and ability labelling can do untold damage to students’ experiences and enjoyment of school and education and undermine their achievement at the end of 11 or so years of compulsory education. Research evidence, from, for example Professor Diane Reay goes a long way to helping us to see ways in which a national education system, despite claims to the contrary, can mitigate against certain groups of students and seriously undermine their learning and their achievements, even to the extent that attainment gaps widen rather than narrow as students go through school; the probability exists that schools exacerbate rather than offsets inequalities in young people’s educational outcomes. Whilst Reay is talking about class inequalities, the Nigerian author Chimimanda Ngozi Adichi talks about her experiences of racial stereotyping in her TED talk, ‘The Danger of the Single Story’. Although her talk is about her life experiences at home in Nigeria and abroad, she nonetheless manages to capture something of the injustices of any form of stereotyping, be it related to race, gender and identity, class or physical/intellectual ability when she says “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story’ and that ‘the consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar. ’ She warns us of the danger of the single story when she says ‘show a people as one thing and one thing only, over and over again, and that is what they become’. The question here is how and in what ways do schools see children as ‘one thing and one thing and only’ to the extent that they become how they are seen, so a child labelled as ‘low ability’ remains just that because of the groups they are taught in, the types of resources they are allowed access to, the curriculum they are forced to learn. in her book ‘Schooling the Rustbelt Kids’ Pat Thomson, uses the metaphor of the ‘virtual school bag’ to articulate the inequalities that prevail in school systems in many part of the world. The virtual school bag represents the different knowledges and experiences children bring into school with them from home and their communities. She argues that for many children the skills and knowledge they bring to school are not the kinds of knowledge valued by schools. The consequence of this is that even before they start school many students are disadvantaged by the system because they and their parents have neither the knowledge or the power to ‘play the game’ of schooling. Drawing of the work of Bourdieu and cultural capital Thomson goes on to argue that schools reproduce social inequalities because of the curriculum they teach the policies they enact and the expectations they have of themselves and their students. (https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story/transcript?language=en#t-557919 So the question ‘Who do we teach’ is more than just knowing a bit about the students in our classrooms. It is about understanding the complex web of power relations that leave some children enduring rather than enjoying school while others thrive and succeed. And whilst is might feel impossible to challenge the entirety of an education system, nonetheless teachers are honour bound to ensure that their classrooms are socially just places where children are valued for who they are, for what they can bring, and for where they are from.
  5. There is a broader context to why embedding Social Justice thinking in GeoCapabilities 3 has become iincreasingly mportant. . Three key global themes, that currently run in parallel to each other, Climate Change, Black Lives Matter and the Covid-19 pandemic have each, in different ways, brought to the fore significant local and global inequalities that directly and indirectly impact on the lives of a significant number of people, including the young people we teach. Whilst Sen’s and Nussbaum’s ‘Capability Approach’ is intended to support a more socially just approach to a complex idea like welfare economics, GeoCapabilities seeks a more socially just approach to geography education through a better understanding of the knowledge we teach, why we teach it and who we teach it to.
  6. Distributive justice is about the fair distribution of material and non-material goods such as education. In some societies and communities there are individuals and/or groups who do not have easy access to resources such as education. Indeed, we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic just how challenging accessing a taken-for granted resource such as the internet has been for some young people, and how lack of access has affected their learning opportunities when lessons have had to be taught on-line. Inequalities caused by class, race and gender and disability are known to affect people’s ability to make the most of available and important resources. Because of such inequalities, individuals are not always able to ‘convert’ the resources they might have access to into outcomes that can give meaning to their lives (Walker, 2006), meaning that whilst it may appear that resources such as education are available to individuals and groups, because of underlying systemic inequalities, those groups cannot always make the most of them. Again the pandemic has revealed significant challenges faced by some families in accessing food, accessing support for loss of jobs and accessing ongoing health support, especially for mental health. Whilst the support may be said to exist, making the most of such support has not always been easy.  
  7. Relational justice is about building human relationships. Underpinning relational justice is the idea that the extreme individualism resulting from prevailing neoliberal agendas in many areas of the world needs some sort of counterbalance. Relational justice emphasises connectedness and is about enabling and encouraging groups and communities to work together. It is about the interdependence of societies and the importance of dialogue, negotiation and co-operation to bring about change at a range of scales (Casanova and Poblet, 2008). Not all countries enjoy the freedoms associated with relational justice, and even within countries not all groups or individuals enjoy such freedoms. Classrooms and schools can be important places where young people come to understand the importance of relational justice. Not only that but schools can be places where young people experience relational justice for themselves- where their voices are heard, their opinions count and the institutional structures of schools enable more collaborative ways of working for teacher, non-teaching staff and students.
  8. Linked to relational justice and also distributive justice is the notion of ‘agency’. Agency is a concept that underpins many of the arguments regarding what comprises a socially just society and is fundamental to the Capability Approach (Sen, 1999; Walker, 2006). Agency refers to an individual and/or community’s ability to act independently from others, exercise free choice and so make decisions free from coercion; it is embodied in and the freedom to help yourself. Amartya Sen defines agency as “someone who acts and brings about change, and whose achievements can be judged in terms of her own values and objectives, whether or not we assess them in terms of some external criteria as well.” (Sen, 1999, p. 19, cited in Wilson-Strydom, 2011, p. 408). The four criteria for ‘agency’ identified by Crocker and Robyns (2010) are:   Self-determination The ability and opportunity to reason and deliberate The ability to take action Opportunities to make an impact on the world.   Agency is not about freedom to act selfishly and with greed, it is about being free from oppression and having the capacity to choose.
  9. In the social justice literature “mutuality”, is drawn from Etzioni’s (2003; 2007) notion of communitarianism, and refers to the ways in which individuals and groups are mutually dependent on each other in a socially just society. It is a concept that seeks to balance the rights and responsibilities of the individual with the rights and responsibilities of communities, and in so doing ensure the participation of groups often most marginalised in society. It is linked to ideas of citizenship, participation, inclusion and social capital, and acknowledges the commonality of experience of different social groups (Gewirtz, 1998). In the context of schools, Arthur and Bailey (2000) contend that it is possible to develop students’ sense of community and their appreciation of mutuality through the curriculum (such as teaching citizenship principles) and through more democratic school processes.
  10. Having now considered students and teachers and teaching, the final ‘curriculum making’ circle we will discuss is school geography and potential pedagogical approaches. Social justice has for some time be embedded in the work of academic geographers and became a key concept in research in academic geography following a conference paper entitled ‘Social Justice and Spatial Systems’ given by the geographer David Harvey in 1971 (Smith, 2000). His definitive text ‘Social Justice in the City’, published in 1973, called on geographers to move on from their descriptive roots and to begin to critically examine the relationships between social justice and urban spaces. In 1994 Smith argued that all aspects of Human Geography – cultural, social economic and political – are, by their very nature invested in the study of Social Justice, and Hopkins (2020) cites three broad fields of geographical research - poverty and welfare, gender and sexuality, and race and ethnicity, where social justice and injustice is central to the work of social geographers. In school geography Climate Change, resource distribution and exploitation, international conflict, food security, biosecurity, political ecology, health inequalities, and many others, at the local through to the international scale, can be taught through the lens of social justice and injustice, thus helping young people to understand the ways in which the ‘social processes and institutional decision making’ mentioned by Hopkins (2020) shape and influence their own lives and those of others. Geography can contribute, at a subject level, to young peoples understanding of social justice, but not without the kinds of pedagogies that enable them to critically engage with complex ideas. Margaret Roberts (2014) talks about the kinds of ‘powerful pedagogies’ necessary if powerful knowledge is to be learnt. By this she means that geographical knowledge is only potentially powerful and that if students are to learn to ‘think geographically’ and build their ‘GeoCapabilities’ then students need opportunities to discover their own curiosities and to actively engage with their learning. She states: ‘If students are to engage with disciplinary practice they need to become aware of the kinds of questions geographers ask, the methodologies used to select and interpret data and how these shape geographical knowledge. To make sense of geographical knowledge, they need to be able to understand, interpret, analyse and critique geographical data presented in different ways: printed text; maps; statistics, graphs; photographs and film. To make sense of geography they need to make connections of all kinds: between existing knowledge and new ideas; between different pieces of information; between different concepts. The ideas about pedagogy that Roberts is advocating here relate to notions of socially just classrooms where learning geography is seen as a participatory practice based on critical thinking. For such practices to be truly agentive classrooms need to feel safe and welcoming for all students and encourage and enable, not singular views and perspectives but multiple ways of thinking and knowing. What this means is that in some way a teacher and her students’ pedagogic practice needs to be transformative - intellectually, socially and politically.
  11. Here are just some quotes from a focus group interview with a small group of students in one of our participating schools. I am not claiming that these are anything other than a small indication of what a small group f students felt they had taken for their learning about migration. The students were not aware of ‘GeoCapabilities’ but the concept maps they completed and their responses to focus group discussions do reveal something of their understanding, in relation to migration, of fairness and injustice global inequalities, social attitudes and discrimination,
  12. Writing in the Handbook of Education Actin Research (Somekh and Noffke, ) Morwenna Griffiths poses a series of questions aimed at encouraging regular reflection on the processes of AR. Whilst we are not claiming that GeoCapabilities 3 was established as an action research project, these questions or ‘fields of thought’ provide food for future thought in relation to supporting socially just project working. I finish here and my colleagues will now take over, reporting and recounting different aspects of the work of the project that individually and collectively will through more light on the work undertaken and how this relates to social justice. From Griffiths Epistemology: Is there acceptance of continuing change, of no final answers, of provisionality? Is the end that the research was working for itself in question? How are conclusions presented?   Is there an openness to others’ perspectives, however surprising or even unwelcome? Is there evidence of a willingness to put the selves of the researchers into question?   Is the research whole-hearted? Has it been personally enriching and exciting? Have there been tears and arguments? Despair and delight? What difference did these emotions make to the process and outcome of the research?   Action and effects Whose actions are they and for what ends? Is it a joint action or just that of single individuals? Is it specific changed behaviour and/or is it a transformation of perceptions? What will happen next? What are the effects of the research?   Have barriers and constraints to action been questioned and assessed? Do these include: local, internal, structural (e.g. school, Department), large scale structures (e.g. gender, technical rationality)? What counts as action for this research - and why?   About voice and power Who is included in the research? Was consideration given to including everyone with an involvement? So, for schools: not just the teachers, (say) but also the children, parents, cleaners, mid-day supervisors? For H.E. not just the academic staff, but also support staff in various roles?   Was the research collaborative? In what sense? At what stage in the process? Why? Could anyone have done the research on their own? How did any collaboration make a difference?   Was everyone able to contribute confidently without compromising some part of their identity? Do the styles of communication take account of how the ground rules of communication vary by gender, cultural heritage, etc? Do the modes of discourse (Chang-Wells and Wells, 1997) exclude some social groups? Is there an opportunity to have a say, using different modes of expression? What evidence is there about this?   Did the research take any unexpected directions when different perspectives were included? Were there misunderstandings and surprising differences of perception? How did they affect the process and outcomes of the research?     About recognition and redistribution Has individual difference and social diversity been considered? Is attention paid to all the axes of difference (including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, social class, sexuality, (dis)abilities)? Is recognition given to all?   Is complexity acknowledged – or are some groups being stereotyped? Are material and human resources allocated fairly to all sectors – both during the research and as a result of it? Does the research treat anyone as especially important or insignificant? Why?