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Geography, Education and the Future: perspectives on geography education in English schools. Graham Butt University of Birmingham Association of American.

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Presentation on theme: "Geography, Education and the Future: perspectives on geography education in English schools. Graham Butt University of Birmingham Association of American."— Presentation transcript:

1 Geography, Education and the Future: perspectives on geography education in English schools. Graham Butt University of Birmingham Association of American Geographers Conference Washington April 2010

2 Geography Education Research Collective (GEReCo) - a collective dedicated to the promotion of geography education through research and publication Forthcoming publication: Butt.G (ed) Geography, Education and the Future. London. Continuum.

3 Introduction How can geography education prepare young people for the places, environments and societies they will inhabit in the future? How should geography be reframed to take into account the major social and environmental changes wrought by growing consumption, restructuring of economies and technologies, and the dynamic connections between local and global? How can geography and geography education present an agenda that can be taken seriously and implemented in the twenty first century?

4 State of play: The good one of humanitys big ideas (GA 2009) dynamic, inspirational, powerful way of visualising the world explores processes that fashion societies and environments at a range of spatial scales contemporary issues: climate change, sustainable development, energy use, migration, employment patterns, asylum seeking, sustainable development... futures oriented: experience of past and present must inform decisions which will affect our futures

5 The good..... Action Plan for Geography (GA and RGS-IBG) revision of GNC, GCSE and A/AS levels conceptual approach to geography in GNC (see Jackson 2006, Barnett et al 2006, Clark et al 2006) 15,300 secondary geography teachers (62% with geography degree, 73% with PGCE or teaching degree. 96% of Year 13 geography students taught by a qualified geography teacher) (Howson and Sprigade 2010)

6 State of play:...the bad, and the ugly! OfSTED (2008) describes geography provision in English and Welsh schools as declining, the teaching of geography as mediocre, and pupil achievement as particularly poor compared to other curriculum subjects. Christine Gilbert, HMCI, states more needs to be done to make the subject relevant and more engaging to pupils.

7 Downwards trend in candidates entered for GCSE and A level Geography

8 ....the bad, and the ugly widening gap between school and university geography (see Castree, Fuller and Lambert 2007, Butt 2008) geography subsumed in humanities courses (KS3), or reduced to two years rise of learning to learn and thinking skills rise of vocationalism and Diplomas

9 Upcoming UK election Conservatives – local control, professional autonomy, hostility to citizenship, hostility to skills led curriculum (after Lambert 2010) Labour – standards, delivery, teaching and learning, innovation, citizenship (after Lambert 2010)

10 Conclusions challenge of the future – unpredictable, uncertain..... but some elements are known change as a constant growth of world population, percentages living in cities, shift of economic centre of gravity to Asia, ageing UK population, globalisation>interconnection>interdependence (capital, goods, culture, people), technology>movement of information and ideas (Roberts forthcoming) different/uneven impacts on different places – importance of helping young people understand this.

11 future unpredictability is precisely why it is worth thinking about what kind of future do we want? How do we shape it? many of the questions have geographical dimensions need to envisage, evaluate and identify possible and preferable futures (Hicks 2007) significance of personal geographies (influenced by age, gender, class, nationality, ethnicity, interaction with others) > geographical imaginations (Massey 2005) geographical knowledge is not fixed

12 References Barnett, C, Robinson, J and Rose, G (eds) (2006) Demanding Worlds. Milton Keynes: Open University. Butt, G (2008) Is the future secure for geography education? Geography, 93 (3) pp Castree, N, Fuller, D and Lambert, D (2007) Geography without borders. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 32, pp Clark, N, Massey, D and Sarre, P (eds) (2006) A World in the Making. Milton Keynes: Open University. Geographical Association (2009) A Different View: a manifesto from the Geographical Association. Sheffield: GA. Hicks, D (2007) Lessons for the future; a geographical contribution, Geography, 92 (3) pp Howson, J and Sprigade,A (2010) Geography teachers: a snapshot of changing supply and demand. Geography, 95 (1) pp Jackson, P (2006) Thinking Geographically. Geography, 91 (3) pp Lambert, D (2010) Education for Geographical Understanding (presentation to GTE conference, Cambridge) Massey, D (2005) for space. London: Sage OfSTED (2008) Geography in Schools – Changing Practice. London: HMSO. Roberts, M (forthcoming) Conclusions in Butt.G (ed) Geography, Education and the Future. London. Continuum.


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