Living Geography draws from recent, school-focused research to guide and support you in providing a concept based geography curriculum that is relevant, purposeful and exciting for young people. It is written for all those involved with the teaching of secondary school geography

Edited by David Mitchell

It contains 12 chapters that each focus on a theme relating to current UK policy, both in the national curriculum for geography and other overarching policy guidelines (including QCA and Every Child Matters 2007). These include;

  • ESD and futures
  • global citizenship and ICT
  • young people’s geographies
  • natural processes
  • GIS and virtual space
  • human rights
  • life, death and disease

Each chapter contains a conceptual and research based overview, followed by practical classroom strategies exemplified by a distinctive pedagogy or learning style, selected from:

  • thinking skills approaches
  • writing supports
  • use of images
  • GIS
  • a distinctive real world, place-based study, at a range of scales.

Each chapter will therefore give the practical means for teachers to bring the principles and concepts of living geography discussed, to learning in the classroom.

Living Geography:

  • embraces young people’s geographies
  • is current and future oriented
  • is local but set in wider (global) contexts
  • understands natural and human processes
  • raises questions of change, sustainability and development

Please read on for a summary of the subjects covered in Living Geography:

  • Living geography – David Lambert and John Morgan

This chapter gives an overview of ‘living geography’ and the ways in which geographical education has come to focus on ‘living’ and ‘everyday life’. It also addresses possible challenges that might occur when trying to provide a geography curriculum that represents a genuine, meaningful and relevant approach.

  • Whose life? – Roger Firth

Until very recently geography has largely ignored the social, spatial and environmental aspects of the lives, needs and desires of young people who form a significant section of society, who are active social agents in their own right and who may experience the world in very different ways. This chapter asks – what can and should be the contribution of young people’s geographies to the school curriculum?, and illustrates some of the practical ways that teachers can support geographical learning through young people’s geographies.

  • Living in the world – Douglas Bourn

Children and young people are becoming the ‘global citizens’ of the twenty first century. This chapter is based on development education principles and practices, approaches that can be developed within the classroom on areas such as ‘global in the local’, ‘relevance of understanding global poverty’ and recognising importance of ‘voices and perspectives’ in making sense of the world in which we live.

  • For the rest of your life – futures – Alun Morgan

The revised secondary national curriculum has identified the global dimension and sustainable development as crucially cross-curricular. The ambition encapsulated in the phrase ‘sustainable living’ could be legitimately be seen to demand ‘living geography – minded’ in the sense that decision making and activities relating to sustainability have to be geographically grounded and based on a sophisticated understanding of ‘how the world works’. This chapter looks at thinking approaches and action research in the teaching of ESD and includes extensive exemplar material.

  • Living with natural processes – Rachel Atherton

This chapter takes a look at the relationships that exist between physical geography and young people. Justifying why natural processes should form an important part of a young person’s geography is seen as being somewhat difficult. Nevertheless, we do not have to dig far to be able to challenge this point of view. Natural processes are all around us, and exploring the decisions that young people make is a powerful way to develop inroads into building their spatial and temporal understanding of processes. This chapter discusses how physical geography might be introduced to young people in an engaging and stimulating way, then goes on to look at the skills a young person can develop though leaving about physical geography including the relationships to processes occurring at the global scale.

  • Life, death and disease – John Lyon

Geography helps us not only to explore the distribution and spread of disease but to examine risk taking behaviours, prejudice and understanding of issues such as appropriate methods of control at local, national and international scales. Thinking geographically encourages us to explore how we are connected personally and in our communities to wider global issues of disease and health. Through geography we can look critically at the issues, examine the responsibilities we all share and develop a better understanding for today and the future.

  • Living in places people want – Angus Wilson

This chapter explores curriculum making in the context of the skills agenda for sustainable communities. It suggests a change in emphasis from a traditional approach to geography of settlement towards one which involves pupils in evaluating a more holistic range of perspectives on place-making. It also refers to the sustainable schools framework, another government policy seeking to influence school management and the curriculum. These ideas are entwined with the increased importance attached to young people’s geographical experiences and opportunities for active engagement in their communities. This chapter also includes examples of geographical skills being used in a wide range of occupations in order to confirm the importance of geographical learning.

  • Living and learning outside the classroom – Andrew Turney

This chapter demonstrates that fieldwork is relevant to young people, that it is central to ‘living geography’ and is clearly future-oriented. It first explains why this is so, and goes on to show how we can ensure it is effective by identifying the ‘building blocks’ that need to be in place.

  • Living in virtual space – GIS – David Mitchell

Drawing from the Spatially Speaking project, this chapter will discuss the role of geographic information systems (GIS) in young people’s lives. It will argue that spatial thinking, practised and developed through using GIS, is an important and undervalued part of wider geographical thinking, and essential to developing geo-capability. GIS has a clear vocational role, but its educational value extends beyond merely providing a technical skill set. In a world filled with spatial information which is analysed and presented within a social, economic and political context, young people are empowered by the ability to understand and critically evaluate the manipulation of spatial data through GIS.

  • How to use this book – Clare Brooks

The concluding chapter explores how teachers can start to create their own ‘living geography’ curriculum. The chapter begins by exploring what we already know about school geography, and how it differs from the academic subject. By using the idea of synoptic capacity, the chapter also explores what research tells us about how teachers can use their geographical knowledge in the classroom. Teachers are encouraged to examine their current curriculum offer and to evaluate to what extent it has been driven by ideas in geography, policy or students’ needs. Working from a prescriptive curriculum or a textbook prevents teachers from doing this. The chapter concludes that teachers need to get to know their students, and use their subject knowledge as a map to help them to develop their own ‘living geography’.


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