Revealing the importance of geography - How can we work with the Importance of Geography statement?
The Importance Statement: This describes important aspects of the subject, why it is necessary for learners to study the subject and what they can expect to gain from it.
The importance of geography
The study of geography stimulates an interest in and a sense of wonder about places. It helps young people make sense of a complex and dynamically changing world. It explains where places are, how places and landscapes are formed, how people and their environment interact, and how a diverse range of economies, societies and environments are interconnected. It builds on pupils' own experiences to investigate places at all scales, from the personal to the global.
Geographical enquiry encourages questioning, investigation and critical thinking about issues affecting the world and people's lives, now and in the future. Fieldwork is an essential element of this. Pupils learn to think spatially and use maps, visual images and new technologies, including geographical information systems (GIS), to obtain, present and analyse information. Geography inspires pupils to become global citizens by exploring their own place in the world, their values and their responsibilities to other people, to the environment and to the sustainability of the planet.
National Curriculum Geography key stage 3
Students carry out a DARTs activity (Directed Activities Related to Texts) with the Importance Statement.
In pairs, students annotate an A3 version of the Importance of geography statement.
They can choose to focus on aspects which they:
- Agree/disagree with
- Want to question
- Want to know more about
- Do not understand
- Think is missing
- Feel are not represented in the geography as presented to them currently at school
- A3 copy of Importance Statement
Here are some initial comments from a range of students who have carried out this activity. Some of the annotations of students highlighted the following:
- Does geography inspire pupils if we are force-fed from text books?
- What stimulates older people may be different to what stimulates younger people
- A good curriculum will be centred on student interest
- What does stimulate students? Geography in the media
- Issues change rapidly so topics on current affairs need to be snappy
- Not everyone has their own experience so they need it provided
- How can it build on pupils' own experiences if we are not taken on fieldtrips?
- Does geographical enquiry encourage questioning if we are told information and we are
- not encouraged to ask questions?
- We want geography to create new ideas
Examples of student work
Such initial comments would need to be further explored with the students through a range of media (see activity two).
Students in pairs or groups now work towards producing their own Importance of geography statement.
- Variety of media possible: Word process, visual DVD, for example moviemaker
Activity two naturally builds upon the first activity and encourages students to think about what geography means to them.
In groups they can discuss their ideas and synthesise the key aspects that they suggest into a shared representation of the statement.
The finished product here could be a group statement in written form or presented using a wide range of alternative media.
Such creative representations of the importance statement could be through a PowerPoint or movie-maker package set to music. Taking this stage further, students could produce, star in and edit a DVD where they present the importance of geography creatively with music, interviews, television and movie clips complete with their voice-overs. Such DVDs were created by students attending the one-day conference and used to close the conference.
Whatever medium is used, the product should not be an end in itself. Further activities can be set up for teachers and students to compare student versions with the original.
It is a useful exercise as a department (if you have not already carried this out) to revisit the ‘Importance of geography' statement at a department meeting. As a geography team you can complete activity one and activity two. This then gives a shared geography team statement which can be shared with students enabling the potential for a co-constructed final version. Such a joint (teachers-students) statement will help to emphasise the students' responsibility to others as well as their rights as individuals.
This co-constructed Importance Statement, along with the different stakeholders' versions, could then be displayed in the geography department as classroom wall displays or virtually on the department website.