Constant renewal

28th March 1997 at 00:00
Geography and Change By David Flint, Corrin Flint and Neil Punnett Class text Pounds 9.99 Teacher's pack Pounds 35 Hodder Stoughton

Target Geography Books 1 and 2 By Peter and Carole Goddard Pounds 14.99 each Ward Lock

Directions Books 1 and 2 Teacher's Directions By David Jones and Geoff Rowlands Pounds 6.99 each Teacher's book Pounds 19.99 Hodder Stoughton

Patrick Bailey reviews texts designed to keep interest alive for GCSE students.

Within the national curriculum and GCSE criteria frameworks, there are many ways of constructing a key stage 4 course. Geography and Change is certainly one of the more interesting. It is also notably sound and thorough.

The comprehensive one-volume core GCSE textbook is well illustrated in colour, with a spiral-bound A4 teacher's resource pack in black and white. The pack contains 11 pages of suggestions about how to obtain full value from the text and includes 103 pages of photocopiable, differentiated worksheets.

Its versatile theme of "change" is used to bind together all the aspects of GCSE geography into a web of interactions and dependencies, portraying a world of continual adaptations and renewals. Processes in the natural world are related to human developments. The agriculture, industries, capital resources, city growth and know-how of the "developed" world are shown to be linked with conditions in the poorer world through migration, aid and investment, tourism, resource use and misuse.

Discussion is pitched firmly at key stage 4 level, but the underlying thinking is thoroughly adult. There are excellent case-studies, imaginative diagrams, well-chosen and usable photographs and up-to-date statistics, with a country-by-country fact file and an extended glossary. This is an important addition to the teacher's GCSE armoury.

Target Geography is a two-volume GCSE core text which completes the Ward Lock integrated geography course from key stages 1 to 4. The books may be used without reference to the earlier units, written by Philip Sauvain. They are significantly different in style and approach from the earlier books.

These books, but not their predecessors in the sequence, are deliberately pitched at the upper, more literate end of the ability range. They are substantial, well-written texts, supported by an impressive array of maps, diagrams, statistics, fact- and evidence-boxes and suggestions for class and homework activities.

Unusually, the books are constructed on a "place" basis; their contents pages are lists of countries. Volume 1 covers France, Italy, Spain, the European Union and Japan; volume 2 covers Egypt, Nigeria, Bangladesh, India, Brazil and Peru.

General geographical ideas and principles are developed out of these country-based studies. Because no two authors can know all these countries equally well, there is some unevenness of coverage. France, for example, receives 66 pages for a thorough study, while Italy only has 12 pages. In volume 2, what reads as a somewhat distant account of Nigeria receives 13 pages, while Peru has 39 for a rich and interesting account, with many thematic branchings and cross-referencings. Despite these variations, this is a valuable reference work on some of the countries studied and a useful foundation for a teacher's own GCSE course.

Directions boldly aims to make geography comprehensible and challenging to those many students who are likely to achieve only moderate-to-poor GCSE grades and who can so easily become discouraged. It consists of a two-volume class text plus a Teacher's Directions pack which contains both photocopiable materials and highly practical notes about how to use the text to maximum effect and in a variety of ways.

For flexibility, the class text-books are divided into double-page spreads, grouped according to places in Book 1 and to themes in Book 2, with abundant cross-referencing. Book 1 includes place-based studies from Hong Kong, the Kenya highlands, the Lake District, France and Egypt; Book 2 deals with people's responses to hazardous environments, tourism, cities, changes in rural, urban and industrial geography and resource use and misuse.

A typical two-page presentation includes a short text and a selection from the following: a large map and smaller derivative maps, key statistics, graphs and diagrams, photographs (some too small), summary or key-conclusions boxes and questions to consider. There are some particularly effective composite landscape drawings, in the sections on tourism and rural change, for example.

Directions is written by experienced teachers who have a rich fund of geographical knowledge, a notable capacity for lateral thought and a keen understanding of what school work looks like to those many young students who never do well in it, try as they may. It is to be highly recommended.

Patrick Bailey is senior university teacher at the University of Loughborough department of education

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