Lines of enquiry

18th November 1994 at 00:00
Key Geography for GCSE, By David Waugh, Book 1. 0 7487 1670 X, Book 2. 0 7487 1671 8, Stanley Thornes Pounds 6.99 each, Teacher's Resource Guide, By David Waugh, John Smith and Tony Bushell, Book 1. 0 7487 1672 6, Book 2. 0 7487 1673 4, Stanley Thornes Pounds 39.99 each.

Discover, By Keith Grimwade, Physical and Environmental Geography, 0 340 59344 X.

Human Geography, 0 340 59343 1, Hodder Stoughton Pounds 8.50 each, Geography People and EnvironmentS, Population, Place and Movement, Student Book 0 00 326654 0. Teacher Resources 0 00 326656 7 Copymasters 0 00 326655 9, Landscape and Water Resources, Student Book 0 00 326657 5, Teacher Resources 0 00 326659 1, Copymasters 0 00 326658 3, Economic Activities and Development, Student Book 0 00 326660 5, Teacher Resources 0 00 326662 1, Copymasters 0 00326661 3, Weather, Climate and Ecosystems, Student Book 0 00 326663 X, Teacher Resources 0 00 326665 6, Copymasters 0 00 326664 8, Student books Pounds 7.25,Teacher resources Pounds 6.95, Copymasters Pounds, 42. Collins Educational.

Patrick Bailey reviews some GCSE materials most wisely used to complement, not supplant, pupils' own questioning. These three very different GCSEStandard Grade series are fully in line with the Draft GCSE Criteria published in August and with best-guess future syllabuses. They embody a rich variety of approaches and all can be recommended for immediate inspection.

David Waugh's two course-books are undoubtedly excellent. They are direct and practical, up-to-date and visually attractive. They will be especially helpful to non-specialists and those new to teaching, as well as to senior teachers who sometimes have to put their classes on auto-pilot while they deal with other matters.

The authors' method of construction does, however, raise an important, worrying educational question: how satisfactory is it to build your whole course around questions which you and not the pupils have thought out, and then to set out the main teaching points relating to each question in a way that almost suggests to the GCSE candidate, ever keen to memorise "right answers" that all you need to know is here?

Surely an important purpose of education in a fast-changing world is to equip young people to ask their own questions and draw their own conclusions? Teachers who use these books should be aware of the potentially limiting effects of any seeming "complete answers" approach to geography, however skilfully managed, and make sure classes sometimes think beyond these questions and materials.

Book 1 deals with landforms, natural hazards and aspects of human and economic geography, Book 2 with the atmosphere, soils and vegetation, the European Union and rich and poor countries outside Europe. Final sections cover map projections and geographical information systems (GIS).

Each book is divided into broad thematic sections, which are in turn broken down into double-page spreads headed by questions, such as "Why do birth and death rates differ?" and "What causes desertification?" Altogether there are 74 question-led spreads in Book 1, 55 in Book 2. Materials are then supplied which expand upon each question and equip the GCSE candidate to write successfully about it. Activities are suggested, related closely to the text.

The Teacher's Resource Guides consist of ring-binders containing about 150 pages of photocopiable extension materials, emphasising differentiation. There is an explanatory note to each section and detailed assessment advice.

Keith Grimwade's two books are the product of a tried and tested school course, expanded (but not too much) with the aid of a supportive publisher. The books' most important characteristic is their complete flexibility. They consist of 14 units, each divided into numerous sub-sections, which can be built into a source in many ways. Each sub-section includes ideas for further enquiries, each unit incorporates a major assessment task. The text is pitched at just the right readability level and is complemented by well-chosen photographs of effective size, diagrams which are clear and bold, graphs, maps, press extracts and other supporting materials.

Discover Physical and Environmental Geography covers the usual "physical" topics in six units, adds a unit on energy sources and draws the argument together in a thoughtful unit on human interventions in natural systems. Discover Human Geography covers the standard "human" topics in six units which lead into stimulating discussions of development, trade, aid and the complicated relations between the world's rich and poor peoples. Something might have been added here about Pacific Rim developments, usefully summarised in map form in the 1993 Tadashi Inui atlas for Japanese schools and available in Britain; but there is plenty of material here to supply any conceivable GCSE course.

The formidable Collins offering of class texts, teachers' resource booklets and copymaster sets has been assembled by a team of highly experienced teachers, inspectors and lecturers. It covers all aspects of GCSE syllabuses with ideas and materials to spare. Unfortunately, it is expensive.

The four class texts form the core of the package. Each book is divided into 10-12 free standing units, built around discussions of current issues. The arrangement of the units follows on logically in each book but is adaptable. It is perfectly possible to re-build the 44 units contained in the four books into a course of one's own. The teacher resource booklets include suggestions about course building as well as about the potential uses of the copymaster materials, contained in plastic envelopes.

The books are constructed within a place-knowledge framework, Britain, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Kenya and Bangladesh providing most of the thematic examples. Aspects of physical geography, such as climate and weather, eco-systems, hydrology and oceanic circulation are interwoven with discussions of human and economic topics, such as population growth and movement, agriculture and industry, aid and trade and the great 20th century problems of city growth, city living and city management. Units about major environmental issues such as desertification, pollution, human interventions in fragile natural environments and, of course, tourism, now the world's largest interventionist industry, serve to integrate physical and human aspects of geography even more effectively. Units on world-scale themes such as climatic change place the more narrowly-focused individual units into a broader context.

This is a geography of the modern world, full of interest, full of problems. It is a major attempt to set in order the fragmented world portrayed on television and as such ranks as an important essay in citizenship education.

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