Mind for success

20th November 1998 at 00:00

By David Leat.

Chris Kington Publishing Pounds 25.

But can you teach geography so as to make people think?" asked Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol, addressing the infant Geographical Association at the turn of the last century. David Leat and nine teachers with links to the University of Newcastle PGCE course tackle the question head-on with this thought-provoking book.

At its heart are 24 detailed descriptions and analyses of eight secondary classroom strategies that encourage pupils to use their thinking powers. These range from those already in use (Odd One Out, Classification, Fact or Opinion?) to the boldly experimental (Mind Movies) and they need not be restricted to geographical material.

"For too long, teaching has drifted towards a utilitarian delivery mentality, " asserts Leat, challenging geography teachers to go beyond the presentation of content and explore ways of "wiring up minds". There are echoes of de Bono, as well as of the work of John Reynolds in the 1970s Bristol 14-18 geography project.

The strategies are not linked specifically to a framework of development,nor do they cover all basic geographical concepts, but their practicality is demonstrated comprehensively with sheaves of classroom materials and helpful cross-referencing to ideas in other parts of the book.

This book is practical and thoroughly stimulating. All self-respecting geography teachers ought to buy it, read it and learn from it if they believe Jowett's sceptical question should be answered in the affirmative.

Rex Walford is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge School of Education.

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