As somebody who for a long time dreamed of becoming a high school geography teacher this was a fantastic opportunity for me to re-engage with the pedagogical side of geography and to see how inspiring and exciting it is possible to make the subject for aspiring young geographers. What eventually put me off being a geography teacher was discovering how much more interesting the geography I learnt at university was, compared to what I had been taught at school (this was despite the best efforts of the excellent and inspiring teachers that I had). It would, of course, be impossible to teach university level geography to all school children; but I have become convinced that if there was the will in Whitehall it would be perfectly possible to create a more nuanced and engaging geography curriculum.
In my first week at university we were encouraged to question all the models of development and assumptions about environmental protection that we had been taught at school - and I had had the good fortune to be taught by teachers who were prepared to stretch the curriculum to its limits and to embrace the political nature of the topics they were teaching. But still they were fundamentally constrained by the curriculum they had been given and the exams they had to prepare us for. Animal geographies, new approaches to studying immigration and geopolitics within geography, geographies of street art or performance, or geographies of water security are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of current topics in academic geography which could be made both relevant and interesting for study in schools.
|Geography as creating global citizens?|
Mission:Explore has certainly helped to renew my faith in the potential for exciting and engaging geography aimed at school-aged children. I very much hope that my academic involvement in school and children's geography will not end here. I can't wait to find out what other academics and learned societies like the Royal Geographical Society are engaging with school geography.