The Earth and our impact on it

20th February 2004 at 00:00
S1-S2 Geography Kenneth MacLean and Norman Thomson pound;11.99 paperback Hodder Gibson

Kenneth MacLean and Norman Thomson are a well respected writing partnership and their latest tome (208 pages in colour) is a welcome addition to the range of resources available for S1 and S2 geography.

The textbook's strengths are its depth of research, high standard of graphicacy, extensive range of case studies and accessible summations. Numerous map extracts add to the flexible nature of the learning opportunities. Fieldsketching, using tables, drawing graphs, website analysis and map reading skills are all developed.

The book contains a mixture of traditional S1-S2 favourites (for example ecosystems such as tropical rainforests and hot deserts) and more esoteric but useful topics such as Scottish vernacular architecture and flood control on the Yangtse. With such a wide range of topics and information, this textbook lends itself to being dipped into as and when needed.

Some of the graphics are quite dense and my first reaction as a teacher would be to transfer any graphics I am planning a lesson around to a projector.

Graphical thinking is one of the main routes to the comprehension of geographical concepts. Several American geography texts have been accompanied by CD-Roms containing copies of figures, additional animations and further references. This is a development which I strongly believe we should replicate and indeed improve upon here. Low resolution copies of the best block diagrams and sections in such a textbook could open up a range of additional teaching and learning opportunities. This wouldn't do sales any harm either. Teachers simply do not have the time any more to redraw diagrams.

S1-S2 Geography is an excellent text, well produced and, equally importantly, well bound. It also has possible applications for Standard grade through its extension level pages, which often contain thought-provoking, open-ended questions. It should become a classic resource in schools.

Alan Doherty is depute headteacher at Linlithgow Academy, West Lothian

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