Greg Hart started his career as a geography teacher in 1976, and is now deputy head (curriculum) at Myrtle Springs comprehensive in Sheffield. He is co-author (with Keith Grimwade) of "Core Geography for key stage 3", and "Skills Base Geography, for key stage 3 and GCSE", both published by Hodder amp; Stoughton I first got involved in writing when I met a commissioning editor from Hodder amp; Stoughton at a geography conference in 1994. Through her, I met Keith Grimwade (now a geography adviser for Cambridgeshire), and we collaborated on Core Geography.
At the time, a lot of key stage 3 textbooks were coming out in series of three. We felt there was a gap in the market for a single book which would give teachers more diversity, without the expense of getting locked into a series. The book has since been revised and questions sharpened up, and it is still selling quite well.
We also produced a resource pack, with differentiated tasks and worksheets. My background as principal examiner for the Midlands Examinations Group was very helpful here; I was aware that the higher level tasks needed to be made more demanding. So, for instance, we'd get pupils to plot the main economic activities in the Amazon rainforest and come up with a way of developing the region - an open-ended question, with no right or wrong answer.
In Skills Base Geography, we wanted to make skills like triangular graphs - often only taught at higher levels - accessible to everyone. We went out of our way to make it a really attractive book, with lots of good images.
I'm now working in a school on special measures where we are concentrating on improving teaching and learning. It's made me think much more about how textbooks need to reflect the different ways in which children learn - for instance, if the right brain is predominant, they'll be more spatially-oriented, if the left brain is, they'll be stronger linguistically.
Some pupils will struggle to make sense of maps and prefer to write things down: others are better sketching things out and writing less. I'd like to write a textbook which made provision for more than one way of learning.
My books are very much tied in with my classroom experience; I always regard the textbook as the ultimate worksheet. When I take a camera out with me now, my own children - 14, 12 and 10 - all hide for fear of being put in a book. We've got my daughter in Skills Base Geography, holding a globe; she thought it was quite good at the time, but now she's at secondary school, she's worried the school might use the book!
Greg Hart was talking to Diana Hinds