These two publications from Stanley Thornes are available on annual subscription and aim to cover geography requirements for the 14 to 18 age range.
With GeoActive you get 21 four-page units, delivered in three batches over the year, a ring- binder and a set of teachers' notes. The latter are brief and the topics have had a strong European bias, with a particular emphasis on UK case studies.
Environmental geography re-ceived limited attention, which probably reflects the balance of most GCSE syllabuses. Geofile has more physical geography, and also includes one decision-making exercise in each of the three issues.
Both series suffer from a rather unexciting format, largely be-cause these are black and white photocopiable sheets. An attempt has been made to liven up the pages in GeoActive with cartoons, and clear maps and diagrams help to break up the text which is fairly dense, but GCSE pupils may none the less find the layout daunting. Its photographs, however, tend to be small and dark. Geofile does not have photographs at all.
The principal advantage of both series is that they provide up-to-date information on topical issues, and detailed case studies. Those in GeoActive ranged from the Braer oil spill of 1992 and coastal erosion at Scarborough, to a study of a site and service scheme in Madras.
While there are some suggestions for group activities and discussions, most of the pupil activities included in each unit comprise written tasks, which may prove too demanding for all but the more able. Suggestions for extension activities are included in some units and there are useful lists of sources of supplementary materials.
Geofile units are very informative and their strength lies in providing up-to-date information from a variety of sources. There is a wealth of statistical data which A-level teachers will find useful in the preparation of materials for their students. There is also a good balance in the content over the year, which ranges in scale from a broad topic like desertification to a study of land consolidation in Cyprus.
While Geofile is described as an information service, which it clearly is, GeoActive is designed to provide ready-made teaching materials, and in this it is less successful since the materials will have to be modified by teachers before they can be used with mixed classes. Geofile might therefore be the better buy, although both publications have a place in the geography department's resource bank.