The inaugural poll has closed. The first #GeoEdChat on the 6th February will discuss how geography can be at the centre of your school. The purpose of these ‘think pieces is to provide some food for thought and a context on which to centre our discussions. Feel free to add comments below. This post is here to provoke reaction, generate discussion and get your goat up!
I’ve been teaching geography for almost ten years now and leading Priory Geography for five. I’ve attended many CPD events, conferences and subject association meetings where the general consensus is that geography is being marginalised in schools. My argument is that this is usually down to inaction within schools on the part of geography departments.
Let me explain. If we are to move back into the spotlight, the fight is on two fronts. The Subject Associations need to convince the politicians and policy makers that our subject should be on the curriculum. In my view both the GA and RGS are doing a fine job at this scale. The second front is to win the hearts and minds of our students, parents and leadership teams. We can only do this through strong leadership from geography teachers at school level. We need to win one school at a time.
At our school, geography has gone from a marginalised subject to one of the leading subjects in the school. We deliver more progress, provide more opportunities for our students and are involved in whole school changes. We weren’t asked to get involved and we didn’t ask for permission. We got on and did, employing a wide range of Guerilla tactics, subversion and sound curriculum design.
Our GCSE numbers have risen from 21 students in 2008 to 100 students in 2012.
We have been proactive, putting our necks above the parapet and being geographers driving change. In the past five years, we have:
- Produced a school wide mobile device policy;
- Run the digital leaders programme;
- Taken over BBC School Report;
- Engaged teachers from across the school in guerilla learning and use our school grounds;
- Gotten pupils, teachers and artists to co-plan lessons;
- Led whole school off-timetable enquiry days;
- Enabled children to develop campaigns and manifestos calling for school changes…
I could go on. Most importantly, we transformed the curriculum so that most of our young people love geography, and let everyone know about it.
My message is simple: geographers need to be proactive, shake up the apple cart and get serious. Or, allow the continued fossilisation and marginalisation of our subject by staying quiet.