Thanks to recent changes to the range of subjects that students' performance will be measured against, geography has finally been upgraded to the "worthy" list. This could mean that you will come into contact with a few more geographers in your school than you're used to. Here is my advice, as an established teacher of geography, on how (or how not) to communicate with people like me.
- “Geography is just colouring in!”
Ha. No geography teacher has ever heard that one before... Except they have. This is not wit worthy of a Perrier Award, despite what you may believe. And it’s not colouring in. It's shading.
- “Geography teachers all wear tweed jackets with leather elbow patches”
Well, with all that colouring in, the elbow fabric wears out pretty quick...
- “All I remember from geography lessons is oxbow lakes”
That's great, because if you understand oxbow lakes then you probably understand the processes of erosion. And if you’re familiar with erosion, then you no doubt also appreciate the role of deposition. Armed with knowledge of these two core processes you have a working understanding of the formation of pretty much every landform in Britain and indeed the world. Isn’t that brilliant?!
- “Geography teacher, eh? So what's the capital of Mongolia?”
- “Geography teachers are always out on trips”
Maybe, but those day trips to Stevenage are not as glamorous as you may think. And if we get permission for an overnight trip, we don't always find ourselves in five-star accommodation. Inevitably, while every other teacher is tucked up in their own bed at home, we find ourselves staying up until 1am, sitting in the corridor of a youth hostel and knocking on doors, while tiredly growling things like “Why is the light still on?!” or “No, you may not go to the boys' room to borrow a charger...” and so on ad nauseum... Enviable, right?
Chris Powell is a geography teacher and head of year at Parmiter's School, Hertfordshire