The curriculum is avowedly and manifestly a social construction. Why, then, is this central social construct treated as such a timeless given in so many studies of schooling?
Dominant social and cultural groups have been able to establish their language, and their knowledge priorities, learning styles, pedagogical preferences, etc., as the 'official examinable culture' of school. Their notions of important and useful knowledge, their ways of presenting truth, their ways of arguing and establishing correctness, and their logics, grammars and language as institutional norms by which academic and scholastic success is defined and assessed.
(Lankshear et al. 1997:30)
This chapter is written in the belief that beginning geography teachers should have an opportunity to reflect upon the history of Geography as a school subject. As the quotation from Goodson (1992) at the head of this chapter suggests, too often the Geography curriculum is simply presented as a given. It is written down and that's all there is to it. Lankshear et al.'s (1997) comment reminds us of why we should delve a little deeper into how the geography taught in schools came to be accepted as common sense. He suggests that there is nothing 'natural' about what goes on in school geography. Instead, what counts as geography reflects the interests of powerful social groups.
The first part of this chapter offers an account of the development of school Geography in Britain which stresses that the definition of what is to count as Geography has been a matter of struggle and conflict. Many accounts of the development of school Geography in England and Wales tend to take the form of 'uncritical narratives' (Ploszajska 2000), which chronicle the 'progressive evolution' of the discipline and the institutions that sponsor it. Writing about the development of Geography as an academic subject, Livingstone (1992) argues that these accounts are 'in-house reviews of disciplinary developments for the geographical