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Practice made perfect at key stage 3

Geography 11 - 16 Rekindling Good Practice. By Bill Marsden David Fulton, #163;14.99 - 1 85346 296 9

The aim of this timely book is to show how geography teaching in secondary schools can meet the requirements of the national curriculum at key stages 3 and 4 without abandoning the basic principles of good practice.

The author contends that these principles are derived from three sources; good practice in geography as a subject, good educational practice and good social education.

These have always been present, but teachers have recently focused on one or other of them. What is needed is a synthesis which reflects all three, while meeting the requirements of Dearing's revised Order for geography.

After an introductory survey on the relevant literature on educational aims, the four main sections of the book explore the principles of good practice in detail.

The first, geography and geographical education, reviews the changing nature of the subject, its justification in the curriculum and its relations with other parts of the curriculum.

The author points to trends at the frontiers of geographical research which emphasise the study of places as the central concern of the subject, but not in the form of the static, deterministic coverage of countries and regions derived from earlier paradigms.

Geography and education is a substantial section on aspects of curriculum theory, research on children's thinking, pedagogy, the role of teachers and assessment. As in other parts of the book, the topics are clearly signposted with sub-headings and divisions.

The following chapters on the social context of geography cover stereotyping, aspects of values and attitudes and the role of issues-based geography.

In a case study of trans-national corporations the author shows how a stereotypical view of these organisations can be replaced by a more differentiated view through a series of key questions. The final section has an up-to-date discussion of the national curriculum in geography - how it came about and the issues surrounding its content.

Some guidelines for curriculum planning at key stage 3 include a case study of Catalonia which brings together the principles of good practice discussed earlier. Here the author clearly illustrates his contention thatgood practice can be rekindled if we form a synthesis derived from the subject, especially the revival of the place approach, and its educational and social dimensions. This lucid, penetrating study of geographical education will provide support for practising teachers, student teachers and those responsible for training them.

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