Pinpointing need for geography

7th January 2005 at 00:00
Alex Standish's Platform piece (TES, December 10) made some interesting and helpful, if provocative, observations on the hugely significant role that effective geographical learning can play in a young person's education.

Both the Geographical Association and the Royal Geographical Society have been engaged in significant work involving teachers' continuing professional development . Their support of teachers in OCR's pilot GCSE is but one example of how the geography community is taking responsibility for developing learning that is concept-led and informed by the subject's academic and intellectual rigour.

David Lambert's significant and long-established work on the use of concepts in geographical education is helpful here. Another of the GA's curriculum development projects, Valuing Places, has on its sounding board, Professor Doreen Massey of the Open university. She said it was "lovely to see the different phases of geography in step" as teachers and academics together develop the power and relevance of geography through a re-emphasis on place, scale and interconnectedness.

The project is convinced by Simon Catling's well-researched ideas, that children's geographies are a powerful tool to develop a learner's capacity to view the world through critical and informed geographical thinking. To ignore children's worlds reduces geography's connection with learners'

lives. Like Catling, the Valuing Places teachers (more than 100 teachers are active researchers for the project) see children's geographies as an element of their geography, to be explored and expanded upon through informed geographical investigation and dialogue.

Standish rightly draws attention to the need for more support for the subject through initial teacher education, and further support to widen the influence of the many hundreds of highly motivated and effective teachers of geography who have been recognised and celebrated by both HMI and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

Diane Swift. 3 Vicarage Croft. Kings Bromley, Staffordshire

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