Explore rivers deep and mountains high

21st February 2003 at 00:00
Geography Matters (Scotland). Editor Philip Duffy. Series editor John Hopkin. Heinemann, pound;9.99

This bright textbook is crammed full of colourful photographs, clear maps and well-drawn diagrams. It certainly grabs your attention.

Students will find plenty of material to develop their geographical skills. For example, chapter 1 shows in clear, manageable and simple steps how to carry out an investigation. It is helped by the fact that the subject of the investigation is a fast food restaurant.

The book meets its aims of covering the 5-14 guidelines. Topics such as earth forces, physical landscapes (rivers and coastlines), floods, weather, population distribution and settlements and ecosystems are all covered, some in a Scottish context.

Each chapter features a variety of activities for students to carry out, including report-writing, research, map interpretation and drawing graphs.

I particularly liked the computer activities, which were well integrated.

Good use is made of Scottish case studies in chapter 6 "People Everywhere", chapter 7 "Flood Disaster" and, to a lesser extent, chapter 3 "Rivers".

Both chapters 6 and 7 examine the River Tay and its immediate area. I particularly liked the use of aerial photographs with ordnance survey maps.

Geography departments will have larger extracts of the same maps so will be able to extend the map exercises.

However, I feel that the book would benefit from more Scottish coverage, in particular the inclusion of a Scottish city.

The book provides students with resources and guidance to develop their skills in a variety of graphical techniques. Although these are all valid, I feel that some are beyond the average S1 or S2 pupil. For example, the use of scatter graphs to illustrate correlation in chapter 5 and proportional maps in chapter 8 is better suited to a more advanced student.

However, schools buying this textbook will no doubt make good use of the activities with Standard and Higher classes.

The book does a good job in developing informed attitudes, particularly in chapter 8 "Can the Earth Cope?". But here, too, I felt some of the content was inaccessible, in particular the complex diagrams and materials, some of which would be more suitable in a biology textbook.

It must be said that these are minor niggles. Geography Matters is a textbook packed full of excellent ideas and activities. Its exciting approach makes it well worth buying.

Maralyn Reid is principal teacher of geography at Lenzie Academy, East Dunbartonshire

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