International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education Abstracts


Fien, J. (1999) Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 140-158.

Fien, J. (1999), Towards a Map of Commitment: A Socially Critical Approach to Geographical Education
International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education
, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 140-158

Director, Centre for Innovation and Research in Environmental Education, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia


This paper begins with a lament that much of the political effort in geographical education in recent years has been directed towards issues of disciplinary chauvinism and the preservation of the subject in national curriculum prescriptions and that, as a result, research and scholarship in geographical education have not reflected the debates about ideological purposes of education and curriculum theory that have characterised related fields in social and environmental education. The purpose of the paper is to map some issues involved in an openly-ideological, socially-critical approach to geography and education. A template or grid for analysis is first constructed through a brief overview of the nature of ideology in education in which the characteristics of a committed, socially-critical approach are contrasted with those of liberal and conservative approaches. Next, two key pedagogical implications of a socially-critical approach to teaching geography are mapped. These relate to processes of globalisation and values commitment in geography teaching. The third part of the map involves a reflection on the contribution of socially-critical theorising in education. The role of the teacher as an agent of curriculum change via a language of possibility that can guide critical practice in geography teaching is presented.

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