We see Geography as an essential subject for all highly educated citizens of the world
What is Geography?
Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment, and the way that locations and places can have an impact on people. Geography deepens our understanding of many contemporary challenges facing the world today, and helps us to understand how and why our world is changing, both globally and locally.
Why is this subject important? (justifying the place of the subject in the curriculum)
“Growing up is about discovering the world” A Different View, Geographical Association
“What is exciting about geography today is that it is the first curriculum subject in the UK to take seriously the need for critical and creative thinking about the future.” David Hicks, Professor of Education
Geography is for everyone, not an academic subject for the few. No-one should be thought to be truly educated without this vital learning. It prepares young people with the knowledge, skills and understanding to make sense of their world and to face the challenges that will shape our societies and environments at the local, national and global scales both now and in the future. Geography underpins a lifelong ‘conversation’ about Earth as the home of humankind, and is therefore a fundamental part of a balanced education for all young people. With our world constantly changing there is a greater need to develop this understanding of the physical and human processes through Geography. Thinking and decision making with geography helps us to live our lives as knowledgeable citizens, aware of our own local communities in a global setting. Geography allows students to develop a real world learning through the use of fieldwork. Students get the opportunity to experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning within Geography as experience landscapes outside of their local area. The Royal Geographic Society states “Studying geography will help you better understand the world’s people, places and environments from the local to the global scales.” The Geographical Associations manifesto for geography explains how geography underpins a lifelong ‘conversation’ about Earth as the home of humankind, and is therefore a fundamental part of a balanced education for all young people
What is the purpose of the subject? (the broad aims linked to the local context)
An essential educational outcome of learning geography is to be able to apply knowledge and conceptual understanding to new settings: that is, to ‘think geographically’ about the changing world. Geography allows us to apply knowledge and understanding to a new setting. It helps us to see the connections between places and scales, it also allows us to people and places are connected locally and globally. Geography gives pupils an understanding of the physical world and considering the context of our school in Birmingham, a landlocked city within England, it is important pupils have the opportunity to learn about the processes that created our world and what has changed them. It is important that students learn about the human environments around us in different communities and societies. In the world we live in today it is important that students have a cultural understanding and awareness of diversity and develop a cohesion locally and globally. In the context of our school it is important that we reduce stereotyping across our world and open discussions about our identity and people around us. In Geography students will explore the link between the physical world and human environments and how they are interdependent. Students will understand the concept of sustainable development and how to be a global citizen. Throughout the curriculum we want to bring the subject alive and allow children and young people to ask questions about and investigate their own world and their local area. The 2014 National Curriculum has restored a focus on regional geography, requiring students to:
“extend their locational knowledge and deepen their spatial awareness of the world’s countries using maps of the world to focus on Africa, Russia, Asia (including China and India), and the Middle East, focusing on their environmental regions, including polar and hot deserts, key physical and human characteristics, countries and major cities”
Students must be active participants and investigators in geographical enquiry, not just the passive recipients of knowledge. Geography is quintessentially a ‘discovery subject’. There was a time when it was all about exploration, describing and assembling information about the world: literally, geography was ‘writing the world’. It is still about exploration and discovery, but using the media and digital technologies as well as first-hand experience.
One way of understanding geography is as a language that provides a way of thinking about the world: looking at it, investigating it, perhaps even understanding it in new ways. Languages have vocabulary. You need vocabulary to speak the language, but it is not enough. Languages also have grammar: rules, concepts and procedures which allow you to construct meanings. The grammar of Geography is its ‘big ideas’/concepts, which help us organise and attach significance to the vocabulary (geographical information).
There are two main concepts in Geography:
- Physical World (landscapes, natural hazards and ecosystems)
- Human World (population, settlement and economic development)
There are four sub-concepts that are present within both physical and human geography:
- Place and Space
- Scale and Interdependence
- Environment and Sustainable Development
- Cultural Understanding and Diversity