A short time ago I set GeoEdChat.com live. It’s a new effort from a group of us in The Geography Collective that we hope will bring about new relationships, thinking, practices and initiatives that will improve geography education. The idea follows #UKedChat and other hashtag based Twitter conversations that bring together educators to talk on a specific theme. #GeoEdChat is especially for anyone interested in geography education and will take place every Wednesday. It does not matter what your specialism is or the age of the people you work with, if you have something to say or want to learn more about geography education then this new site should be useful for you.
All educators clearly have different experiences of geography. We all work in different settings and situations, often with different aims and objectives. That said, the world we occupy and the internet that reaches around it are shared between us and together we can use one to influence the other. #GeoEdChat is an international, new and focussed opportunity to develop and share ideas and practices in geography education. I do hope that you’ll join us.
When it comes to exploring and making sense of the world there are some good old rivalries in many education systems. Science v Art is one, with science winning in the vast majority of schools. STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Maths) Education is all the rage, with some artists arguing that STEAM education would be more appropriate. I personally fear a society that neglects the arts and fails to recognise its importance… or the beauty in science itself.
History v Geography is another curious professional and educational face off. In the English education system the two subjects are often pitted against each other, fighting to recruit students at option time. As a geography educator I’ve had many challenging conversations with history teachers who argue their subject to be a superior lens for interpreting the world. In the United States geography is mainly taught through other subjects and mainly in history lessons. A situation that I feel is disgraceful and am so pleased that National Geographic Education is working on so hard to change.
In reality these cockfights are, in many ways, ridiculous.
Shakespeare’s Restless World, a new radio series by the BBC with The British Museum, begins with Neil MacGregor examining Drake’s Circumnavigation Medal.
In the first episode MacGregor explores how “England goes global” and “how one man’s voyage changed a nation’s horizons forever”. To the English in 1580 the world was just being discovered and maps created. These maps were not (just) scientific however, but artistic tools of propaganda that created (imaginary) histories and geographies of their own. A practice that continues to this day.
As the programme points out, the influence of privateering voyages not only influenced economic wealth but also the arts.
“In The Comedy of Errors, written about 1592, Dromio, the quick-witted servant, outrageously compares a plump kitchen maid to a globe as he sets off on a raunchy geography lesson looking for treasure all over her:
Dromio: She is spherical, like a globe. I could find out countries in her.
Antipholus: In what part of her body stands Ireland?
Dromio: Marry, sir, in her buttocks. I found it out by the bogs.
Antipholus: Where Scotland?
Dromio: I found it by the barrenness, hard in the palm of the hand…”