More than a quick fix

11th November 2005 at 00:00
Kevin Harcombe recommends a must-have handbook that advocates sustainability

Primary Geography Handbook Stephen Scoffham Geographical Association Pounds 29.99 (pound;20.99 to GA members)

This well designed and richly illustrated handbook is not for the teacher who can't think of anything to teach on Monday morning and needs a quick lesson plan (though it does include ideas for lessons and makes links to QCA schemes of work).

Nor is it a book to read cover to cover. It is, however, comprehensive, clear, inspirational and indispensable.

Even if you have the most meagre curriculum budget this year, the Primary Geography Handbook is a must-have.

Geographical knowledge is never neglected, but central to the authors'

"mission" is their belief in the ethical value of the subject and its role in sustainability. (Jonathan Porritt wrote the foreword.) In its pedagogy it extols the virtues of emotional engagement in motivating children (the latest theories on brain development and multiple intelligences are featured) and claims boldly that "What children think about a country... is more important than their ability to name it."

The emphasis on the creative and investigative aspects of geography, while not losing sight of rigorous but realistic expectations in terms of knowledge and skills, is bang up to date. The editors, being geographers, have also supplied a "navigator" to help you find key material quickly and easily.

In terms of the creative curriculum the Primary Geography Handbook is an excellent tool for developing meaningful links between subject areas.

The chapter on the global dimension of geography takes in spiritual, moral, social and cultural aspects, while that on school grounds connects with science, maths and art.

As my school works on a revised curriculum, the handbook has many specific and helpful suggestions to make, such as linking Qualifications and Curriculum Authority geography unit 4 (Going to the seaside) with history unit 3 (What were seaside holidays like in the past?).

This will form a combined cross-curricular unit that might also include a field visit and provide additional links to art and science.

Kevin Harcombe is headteacher of Redlands Primary School, Fareham, Hampshire

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