Geography in education: exploring a definition
Geography in education: exploring a definition

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Geography in education: exploring a definition

2 The purposes of geography in schools

The evidence shows that students who study geography through their school lives become some of the most employable people in our society. The organisation [the Geographical Association] comments: ‘Surely all parents would wish their children to engage with a subject that improves their life chances and helps them to develop an informed concern for the world and an ability and willingness to take positive action, both locally and globally.’

(Brown, 2001)

The quotation above comes from an article in The Guardian entitled ‘The erosion of geography’. The article suggests that geography in schools was under threat, and tried to argue why geography matters as part of a general education.

The article seems to reflect a genuine concern about the status of geography in schools. In recent years, the numbers of students studying the subject nationally has declined, and the recruitment of geography teachers has been sluggish. This perhaps begins to explain the concerns of Rawling, Lambert and Machon in the quotations in the first section.

‘The erosion of geography’

How do you react to this article?

Activity 2

Click on 'View document' below and read the extract from the ‘Letters’ section of The Guardian, 27 November 2001, which features some reactions to the article ‘The erosion of geography’.

View document [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

  1. Now think about your own teaching, and consider what letter you would have written to The Guardian.

  2. Undertake a review of what you think are the ‘strengths’ of your geography department and any areas which are ripe for further development.

  3. Share your review with colleagues; do they agree with your assessment?

So far, we have been talking about ‘geography’ in a way that assumes we all share a common understanding of its characteristics and purposes. But is this really the case? The next sections consider a wider view of school geography.

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