Teaching Geography in Secondary Schools: A Reader

By Maggie Smith | Go to book overview

Section 1

Geography in the school curriculum

This section puts the development of geography as a subject in the school curriculum into its historical perspective and examines the influence of social, economic and political influences on the subject. It is hoped that the discussions in the three chapters that make up this section will encourage students to understand better what they see happening in school geography departments, and to develop their own personal views on the role and purpose of teaching geography in secondary schools.

In Chapter 1, Ashley Kent, writing from a personal viewpoint as head of the Education, Environment and Economy section at the Institute of Education, University of London, provides an overview of the development of geography education through the twentieth century. In particular he draws out the historical roots of many of the contemporary challenges facing the subject in schools. His chapter sets the scene for this book: it covers changes in pedagogy, content, resources, fieldwork and research, and he concludes by setting out some of the broad issues and challenges that face teachers of geography in the years ahead.

Eleanor Rawling, in Chapter 2, focuses more particularly on developments that have affected the geography curriculum in the last decade from the first National Curriculum for Geography and through the two subsequent revisions. She highlights more general issues about ideology and the politics of curriculum change during this period and she raises a number of issues and topics that provide a stimulus for further debate and research. For beginning teachers, this chapter will help in understanding the thinking behind the curriculum developments and initiatives with which they will be working in the classroom.

The last chapter in this section is one that encourages students to keep an open mind about what constitutes school geography. John Morgan traces the conflicts and debates that have characterised the various 'geographies' of the last 150 years, and notes that traces of many of these viewpoints still survive in the geography curriculum. He suggests analytical frameworks that students can use to make sense of the various types of 'geography' that they will encounter in their teaching.

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