Intelligent reflection

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
LEARNING TO TEACH GEOGRAPHY IN THE SECONDARY SCHOOL - A Companion to School Experience. By David Lambert and David Balderstone. Routledge Falmer pound;18.99

This is a practical and visionary book, as well as being superbly optimistic. It has as much to offer the experienced teacher as the novice and could be used to reinvigorate geography departments everywhere.

Practical activities and ideas are set within a carefully worked out, authoritative, conceptual framework.

The book's central message is to do with developing and sustaining intelligent, learning teachers. This definitely does not imply the novice teacher. If we are not learning and trying something new, we are selling the children short. This is a refreshingly honest statement about what it means to be a teacher today.

This book unequivocally reasserts the art of curriculum thinking, schemes of work and lesson planning in geography. Such an emphasis has been sadly lacking since the national curriculum was introduced.

The national curriculum is not a curriculum, an neither is a textbook series. This book uses the analysis of teaching resources to reassert the need for critical thinking to be applied not only to the content and methodology of lessons but also to the materials used to teach the subject.

And there is some great stuff in the chapter on professional development too. "Reflection has become a dread word ... and is in some ways more dangerous than no thought at all!" The authors pull all the cliches apart. But when they put them back together, they are all the stronger for it. So intelligent reflection informs practice.

The penultimate chapter on "Geography and education for the future" is probably the most groundbreaking. The reader is challenged to reflect on the spirit and purpose of geography education in helping to prepare students for the next 75 years.

Such teaching will stimulate the intellectual and emotional capacities of students and generate a lifelong interest in wider educational and moral issues.

Andy Schofield is head of Varndean School, Brighton

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