My best lesson - Have you got the moves for kung fu geography?

30th January 2015 at 00:00

At first glance, coastal erosion may not appear to have much to do with kung fu. But the connection has been made with a lesson that draws inspiration from the Kung Fu Panda films and is now famous among geography teachers. The impact on learning is considerable.

The first half of the lesson is spent in the classroom, discussing the different erosion processes that the coast can succumb to: abrasion, attrition, corrosion and hydraulic action. So far, so usual.

Then you bring in the kung fu. Discuss with the class how these erosion processes act on a headland and create the landform features of cracks, caves, arches, stacks and stumps. Give each of these landforms a different movement - a crack, for example, is a kung fu chop.

Now it's time to take your class somewhere with a little more room. Arrange the students in the formation of a traditional martial arts class (so if you have 20 children, four lines of five) with you at the front, facing them. Read out a prepared passage (one is available at the link below) that describes the processes and mentions the specific words that trigger the kung fu moves.

The students always get really involved in this activity and we have a bit of fun while learning. For obvious reasons, Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas should be playing in the background.

After the lesson, I ask the students to answer the GCSE question "Explain the formation of a sea stack". They instantly recall their kung fu and get full marks every time. They often talk about using the moves in their exam, too.

Tim Parker teaches at Yarm School in North Yorkshire. Find him on Twitter at @ParkerGeog

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