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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Monday, April 25, 2011

#placematters Or does it?

Categories: Geography General
I'm having a cracking discussion on 'place' on twitter right now. It all stemmed from an idea for a lesson tomorrow with an S2 class (which is now out of the window!). We have just started looking at India and one of the barriers to learning I sometimes feel presents itself is a questioning of the need for knowledge of places, regardless of where is being studied. I simply put the same question out on twitter, as shown in the picture above. The response has been quite out of proportion to what I was expecting, and it's been interesting watching the replies come in, although I have to say I've lost track completely.
One of the notable elements of this is that, so far, none of the replies have said that place has no importance. However, three of the earliest replies came from people in the Shetlands, Baffin Island and Stornoway, all geographically remote places. I wonder if people in isolated communities feel more of a need for knowledge of the outside world? I wonder if urban living is so instant that it dulls the thirst for knowledge about other places?
I expected a reply from Geography colleagues, but the swings of the discussion surprised me a little. For instance, there was a debate about whether some places NEED to be taught regardless of students disposition to learning about them. There was a reopening of an old discussion about knowledge v skills and also about the idea of 'useless' knowledge still being important. Most of interest to me was the idea that students should be involved in deciding the place knowledge that they later acquire. As a teacher, this potentially makes my job a lot more difficult and takes me out of my comfort zone, all probable reasons for giving it a go!
I think I may give some time over to classes on this tomorrow, so many points raised, it might be worth doing a stations activity and collating students own thoughts on the matter, as well as shaping some of the place work that we do for the India unit too. Certainly beats the short discussion about the importance of place and, once that had been established, the 'big room' mapping exercise that I had planned in the first place! Thanks to Alan Parkinson, Tony Cassidy, Angus Willson, Caroline Breyley, Sharon Somerville, Steve Bunce, Murray Cockburn, Liz Sutherland and Jan Webb for contributing their thoughts. If anyone would like to contribute to the discussion, please leave a reply here or contact me via twitter at @Kenny73. You could use the hashtag #placematters after your tweet too if replying. Thanks to all for another great wee bit of professional development. I'll leave the last word to Alan:

"...there's a world of places to choose from and some of them should be decided by the students"

Parkinson (2011)


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