#GeoEdChat is back from our mid-year break!
We are moving back to a voting format where you get to choose the topic of the next chat so that the Chats are as relevant as possible for all Geography Teachers. The moderator will then post a thinkpiece on the chosen topic to help stir the conversation.
Come back in the next couple of days to see the poll for our first chat back!
There is a strong link between geography and play. Geography is simply a giant game of hide and seek. Mentally and physically we’ve always played the game. From our first smiles playing peekaboo to the war games (and battles in theatre) that are played out by our military and political leaders, much of our lives are spent searching, evading and finding.
Play can be a powerful way for us to learn about places. Indoor games like The Settler’s of Catan draw from the ‘real world’ and can be an engaging way for us to learn about trade, strategy, inequality and theory (as this game is based on Central Place Theory). With parallels to the famous Trading Game by Christian Aid, indoor (board)games are effective and largely uncontroversial learning tools. A good exception being those created by my good friends at Terrorbull Games (check out the print-and-play games).
Outdoor play is far more controversial than indoor play for some teachers, parents and communities. We all know about the concerns for ‘safety’, curriculum time and other barriers that prevent children from benefitting from outdoor play, learning and exploration. Countries like Scotland have a very forward thinking approach to outdoor learning, but in England, the United States, Australia and other ‘developed’ countries the picture is far more bleak. Despite a raft of evidence revealing the benefits of us (all) having time and space to playfully learn outdoors, too many children just don’t get the right opportunities.
There is much that the professional ‘geography’ and ‘play’ communities can learn from each other. Playworkers, play rangers and playground designers are all inherently interested in creating valuable, meaningful and appropriate places for children. As well as micro-play environments like sandpits, many people in this thriving community are working hard to change the geographies of their communities by creating play streets and helping parents to rethink the real geographies of risk in their local area. Equally, geography educators can learn much from the way that playworkers create opportunities for free play (and learning) and conceptualise how this play can be of benefit to us.
An ever increasing movement of individuals and organisations are working to help the gatekeepers unlock opportunities for us – not just the children – to spend more time exploring, playing and learning outdoors. My work with Mission:Explore, the programme by the John Muir Award, the awesome personal drive of Juliet Robertson with Creative STAR and campaigning by Play England are just tiny sample of what is happening in the UK.
Empty Classroom Day on Friday 5th July is one of the most exciting. It’s a simple idea and one that we should all support. It’s aim is simple – that every school in the UK (I reckon this should say on Earth) there will be an empty classroom and pupils will be learning in their playground, local park, farm, seaside and the great outdoors.
So, my question for #GeoEdChat this Wednesday is this. Given that Empty Classroom Day is just around the corner..
- How can play be used to improve geographies?
- What outdoor games can you recommend that help us to learn outdoors?
- How can play improve the geography of your community?
- What can you do to support Empty Classroom Day?
#GeoEdChat now takes place for 24 hours every Wednesday with a focussed meet-up at 8pm in your timezone. I’ll be dropping in and out of the chat all day. Tweet with you then?
@DanRavenEllison is a Guerrilla Geographer and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. He is one of the people behind Mission:Explore, a project to inspire young people to explore, learn and play outdoors. You can follow his blog here.
The first #GeoEdChat will happen on the 6th Feb. I’ve put my head above the parapet and volunteered to moderate the first session. If you want to know who I am, check me out on Twitter or have a gander at my blog.
As moderator, I get to put forward a few ideas for what we focus the conversation around. The best bit is that you get to vote for what you’d like. Here are my choices:
a. Putting geography at the centre of your school.
Us geographers are always harping on about how our subject is so great and linked to other subjects. How can geography and school geography departments take control of whole school initiatives?
b. Getting guerilla with school geography.
Geography is all around us but it’s getting more and more difficult to get out into the wider world. How can mini-explorations and naughty learning allow children to develop their sense of place?
c. Using school grounds for exploration and fieldwork.
Similar to the second topic but more focused on the development of exam skills on and around the school grounds.
d. Setting up an overseas field-trip.
This one is all about getting out there. We could focus on how to make the case for an overseas adventure, the planning, risk-assessment and ensuring that young people learn
Welcome to #GeoEdChat, a new project to improve geography education through conversation.
Everyone who is interested in improving geography education, teaching and learning is welcome to join in. It’s our intention that #GeoEdChat will cross, shape and create professional and geographical frontiers, resulting in new ideas, critical thinking and shared best practices.
Geography education, teaching and learning is of vital importance not only for individuals, but communities at all scales around the world. From finding the best place to eat, sleep, hide, find work, dance, give birth or be safe, to understanding the patterns and processes that affect and interconnect people, places, markets, habitats, cities, wildlife and ideas, good geographical thinking helps us to make sense of things and solve problems. By improving geography education we can make our lives and the planet better; a strong argument for geography and developing a #GeoEdChat.
Each Wednesday on Twitter using the hashtag #GeoEdChat, we’ll focus on a different topic that will be mediated by a different person. It will also take place in one of four different time zones so we can get as many geography educators involved as possible.
- 20:00 London (UTC 0) 1st Wednesday of each month
- 20:00 New York (UTC-5) 2nd Wednesday of each month
- 20:00 Dhaka (UTC +6) 3rd Wednesday of each month
- 20:00 Sydney (UTC +10) 4th Wednesday of each month
This effectively means that #GeoEdChat will only take place in ‘your region’ once a month, but we’d encourage you to try and make the others if you can. You can see a break down of future chats and times as and when the take place here.
Each chat will consist of four stages that our moderators will guide us through.
- Vote – #GeoEdChat community votes on the next topic for their time zone
- Blog – The guest moderator posts a “Think Piece” on this site
- Chat – #GeoEdChat on Twitter, led by the guest moderator in their time zone
- Blog – The moderator posts a #GeoEdChat summary
The first #GeoEdChat will be mediated by David Rogers, my friend and partner in guerrilla geography who describes himself on Twitter as a “Dad, Husband, Associate SLT, Head of Geography, Runner, Mission:Explorer, Adventurer, Author, Pedagogic Trouble Maker, Geek”. David teaches young people aged 11-16 and is a prolific geography education blogger. His first of three blog posts will follow this one and will ask you to vote on what the first #GeoEdChat should focus on. Please do have your say.
Please do help to make this experimental project a success by joining a chat.