The Society is working on a Geography and Core Maths Initiative with MEI. As part of that work, teachers have contributed their thoughts on the benefits of Core Maths and the importance of mathematical skills for geographers.
As an A-Level Geography teacher, one of the issues we often come up against is the teaching of the statistical and data skills as students often have a wide range of starting points and confidence. We have found that students who take Core Maths alongside their Geography A-Level are much more confident and able to cope with the statistical skills needed for the A-Level as there is a good overlap of skills. These students also tend to perform much better in the NEA as they are capable of handling an presenting data, plotting graphs correctly and running appropriate statistical tests to aid analysis. Somewhat surprisingly, these students often are more confident with the geographical data skills than even their peers studying A-level Maths as the course content is more closely matched to the applied way we use data skills in Geography. This goes both ways and when studying/practising statistical tests in lessons, the Core Maths students readily see the links between the skills/courses and support their peers with the tasks which is great! Students often tell me that after years of finding maths challenging at school, they find that they enjoy the Core Maths lessons and make great progress – giving them great skills to set them up for future study and employment, as well as benefiting their A-level studies. In short – I would strongly recommend students to consider studying Core Maths alongside their Geography A-Level.
Simon Holland CGeog FRGS
Teacher of Geography and Head of Faculty for Geography, Biology, Ethics and Philosophy at Bilborough Sixth Form College, Nottingham
As an A level student I enjoyed the way my chosen subjects interacted. In Mathematics, I learnt how to manipulate numbers; in Physics I saw how equations were a way of expressing processes and relationships; and in Geography I applied equations to weather, landscapes and more. When studying Geographical Sciences at university, I found the statistical elements of my mathematics A level provided a strong foundation for several elements of my degree. Studying mathematics has given me confidence in teaching areas of geography including area and scale, using data in fieldwork, proportions and radios and drawing conclusions from numerical data as well as graphical and statistical skills. As a head of department, I am easily able to understand and manipulate data when analysing exam results and other data. In my opinion, an understanding of mathematics is extremely beneficial for geography students and teachers alike.
Head of Geography at The King Alfred School – an Academy
Find out more about the Geography and Core Maths Initiative
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