Ashley Kent and Nick Foskett
In the English literature it is not hard to find eulogistic references to the benefits of school Geography. For instance:
Fieldwork is the best and most immediate means of bringing the two aspects of the subject (i.e. a body of knowledge and a distinctive method of study) together in the experience of the pupil. Therefore, fieldwork is a necessary part of geographical education; it is not an optional extra.
Fieldwork is not a separate teaching style to be adopted in geographical education, but a sine qua non of all good education through geography.
Geography without fieldwork is like science without experiments; the 'field' is the geographic laboratory where young people experience at first hand landscapes, places, people and issues, and where they can learn and practice geographical skills in a real environment. Above all, fieldwork is enjoyable.
(Bland, Chambers, Donert and Thomas 1996:165).
Then? Well not quite, since in several parts of the world the tradition of school fieldwork is far from established. For instance, in the USA 'fieldwork is not a common part of the geography education in the United States' (Bednarz 1999:164). This is arguably also true of college level fieldwork in the USA where according to Allender (1999), fieldwork is an elective in most courses because of other reasons: it is expensive, there are legal liability worries, virtual reality fieldwork seems more cost-effective and there is a lack of skilled instructors. A similar story is told from China, where 'it seems unlikely that fieldwork will assume a key position in geography in China' (Zhang 1999:175), and from the Netherlands, where 'class-based study of secondary sources has become more important than enquiry outside the classroom' (Swaan and Wijnsteekers 1999:171).