Powerful Geography - A curriculum with purpose in practice£16.99*
- A fascinating exploration about the role of Geography within the English context.
- Mark offers a great range of case studies throughout, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of teaching Geography.
- A very well researched book, quoting many respected researchers and thinkers in considering how young people should be taught.
- Highlighting the subject through all school Key Stages in England, but also considers gaps in the curriculum and how teachers could address omissions.
- The book offers a template of guidance teachers can follow for 'Doing geography', offering steps to create an enquiring curriculum in practice.
Anything is geography? These three words defined the thinking around the geography curriculum when Mark Enser started teaching in 2004, and, for a while, this seemed hugely exciting.
“Geography is such a broad discipline that we could – we were told – study anything in our classrooms, put anything into our programmes of study, at least until we had to prepare for an exam specification, and we could call it geography.
“And so we did. We would create units on the geography of crime in which pupils would consider how different stakeholders felt about a crime that had taken place and, as a result, develop empathy, or study the geography of sport and plot the location of Premier League football stadiums and, as a result, relate the subject to pupils’ interests. They could study the geography of fashion and learn about the deplorable conditions of sweatshops and, as a result, hopefully, change their shopping habits. What mattered wasn’t the content but the result of studying it.”
The problem is that once schools decide that “anything is geography”, it starts to become clear that therefore nothing is geography. If geography is the development of empathy, the study of things familiar to pupils, and an attempt to make them more conscientious consumers, then what unites it as one subject? How do we define this subject?
As Mark describes in his new book, Powerful Geography, “our subject became lost as it was turned into a vehicle to deliver learning around a range of social issues – according to political priorities – and soft skills to prepare pupils for the needs of an imagined 21st century”.
“These years of confusion are a huge shame as geography has the potential to be a truly powerful subject. An understanding of the planet that we call home – how it works, how human and physical processes interact and lead to change – can transform those who study it and open up new vistas from which they can view the world”.
It is this notion of powerful geography that Mark explores in the book, arguing that a powerful curriculum needs a clear purpose driving it. The first part of the book examines the role of the school in society, showing the place that geography occupies within it. It considers the history of the subject so as to better understand where it stands today and how things went so wrong.
The second part is a practical guide that illustrates how to put this theory of curriculum purpose into practice. It explores the steps which must be taken to create a powerful geography curriculum by deciding on content and places to be studied, putting the components into a sequence and then using all this to do geography. It also discusses the extent to which we need to consider the future and respond to the concerns of the wider world when planning our curriculum.
Mark stresses that “it is not just for heads of department and subject leads. The curriculum is not created by one person writing out a programme of study but by each and every teacher in the classroom. The word curriculum derives ultimately from a Latin word describing the route of a race, a journey. It is, excitingly for us geography teachers, a map. It is the individual teacher who takes their pupils on this journey and so it is the individual teacher who must take responsibility for understanding their map, especially as they will inevitably alter the route as they teach, finding new tangents to explore and bringing in examples and references from their own lives, interests and experiences.”
*Book RRP, correct at time of publication.