Presentation on theme: "Questions children ask Dr Stephen Scoffham Faculty of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University Geographical Association Annual Conference University."— Presentation transcript:
Questions children ask Dr Stephen Scoffham Faculty of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University Geographical Association Annual Conference University of Derby April 5 th 2013
London Redcar Blackburn Oxford Grantham Total number of children 134 Total number of boys 58 Total number of girls 76 Very varied catchment areas All children aged 9-10
Questionnaire What questions do you want to ask about the world and your surroundings? Think carefully and write down no more than six questions in the space below. You might want to think about these themes Weather, rivers, seas, oceans The environment/creatures Continents and oceans Britain/Your own area Natural disasters Other countries Towns, cities and peoples lives Planet Earth Food and transport Maps Are you a boy or girl? How old are you?
Analysis categories (a) School (b) Gender (c) Themes (d) Times asked (e) Question type (f) Place names There were a total of 587 question of which 528 related to geography
Comparison by school and gender In general terms the same themes occurred in all five samples Influence of previous travel experience and teaching were apparent There was evidence of some clustering eg a group of boys in one class asked a lot of questions about death and disasters The influence of the Japanese tsunami was strikingly apparent and certainly underlies the frequency of questions about natural hazards There were no obvious difference between boys and girls
Factual questions How big is our planet? How many continents are there? Is there a core in the middle of the Earth? Process questions How was the Earth made? Why does it rain? Is there a way of stopping natural disasters ? Existential questions Why is there a sun and a moon? Why does the world turn round? Can you touch the clouds? Question Types
Anthropomorphic Questions Who built the first mountains? (x3) How are rivers made? How do you cause a hurricane? Who invented water? Why was the world created? How was the Earth made?
United Kingdom England 10 Britain 5 Redcar 3 London 3 Blackpool 1 Blackburn 1 Isle of Man 1 UK 1 Total 25 World countries India 4 Japan 3 Russia 2 South Africa 2 Australia 2 Iceland 2 Finland 1 Jamaica 1 New Zealand 1 USA 1 China 1 Total 19 Others Antarctica 6 Amazon 3 Pacific Ocean 3 North Pole 2 River Nile 2 Greenland 1 Lake Victoria 1 Equator 1 Himalayas 1 Mt Everest 1 New York 1 Total 21 Places named by children in their questions
Taking part in the research has really made me think about facts; we dont particularly focus on facts because of our cross curricular approach, however the boys seem to love learning them It has also confirmed the value of fieldwork; this is the first school I have worked in where there are big resources just around the corner ie beach, sand dunes, cliffs. All the visits we have done have lasted about 40 minutes but they have clearly made quite a big impression.
Conclusions and Summary Considerable number of questions to do with physical geography especially Earth in space Surprising number of how and what questions The number of questions about distant places as opposed to a parochial everyday geography The danger of geography becoming a Disney style chronicle of disasters The importance of encouraging children to ask questions even when we dont know the answers
Further thoughts Children are expert witnesses in the process of curriculum reform and it would be indefensible to ignore their views (Alexander 2010 p143) Questions are one of the learning muscles we develop as we seek to develop our intelligence (Lucas and Claxton 2011) Geography provokes and answers questions about the natural and human worlds using different scales of enquiry… (DfEE/QCA 1999) Children are to be viewed as contributors to our shared knowledge and understanding of the world rather than as recipients and shared beneficiaries of hand-me- down curricula (Catling and Martin 2011)
References Alexander, R. (Ed) (2010) Children, Their World, Their Education, London: Routledge Catling, C. and Martin, F. (2011) Contesting powerful knowledge: The primary geography curriculum as an articulation between academic and childrens (ethno-) geographies in The Curriculum Journal 22, 3 pp DfEE/QCA (2000) The National Curriculum, London: Crown Lucas and Claxton (2011) New Kinds of Smart, Maidenhead: Open University Scoffham, S. (2013) A Question of Research in Primary Geography No 80 pp16-17 Contact: