On Geography and the Organisation of Education
Ron Johnston, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield
Geographical education is beset with problems, of which the main symptoms are self-perpetuation, inbreeding, mimicry, parochialism and political strength. These symptoms relate to the fact that what geographers research and teach is often partial, in its emphasis on conventional geographical wisdom, irrelevant in its removal from the real world, and uncoordinated. The solution lies in first defining the nature and purpose of geographical education, then reorganising the subject, both in school and tertiary education. In the latter the result would be fewer courses based on conventional geographical skills, but more where the subject would provide a sound educational framework for citizenship, and sometimes introduce more vocational training.
What is Worth Teaching in Geography?
Peter Gould, Pennsylvania State University
To be efficient, geographers must teach not facts, but how to learn. This means teaching theories, methods and models, and also the languages of investigation, which include mathematical languages. These are important because some human knowledge and discourse, including growing conceptual areas in geography, cannot be translated from mathematics. Mathematical languages are tools of inquiry, the teaching of which can quickly open up new lines of thinking. Mathematical geographers can make a unique contribution to applied areas through their ability to model and clarify complex problems. An example of teaching mathematical languages is given using a simple directed connectivity matrix, which in turn can be manipulated to introduce advanced ideas. During this process, students are learning naturally about mathematical languages.
Teaching Behavioural Geography
John R. Gold, Geography Section, Oxford Polytechnic
Behavioural geography has become an important part of teaching and research in contemporary human geography. A survey of British geography departments shows that behavioural geography has permeated undergraduate teaching both as specialist courses and in a range of broader human geography courses. This paper examines the former. It reveals considerable consensus on content masked by contrasting course organisation and discusses the relationship between the movement of the research frontier in behavioural geography and likely directions of change in teaching syllabuses.
Problems Arising from the Use of Continuous Assessment for Degree Classification
Brian Goodall, Department of Geography, University of Reading
Experience with continuous assessment at Reading has convinced geography staff of its value although some problems still remain. Students have problems of unfamiliar work requests, peaking of workloads, and any constraints that continuous assessment may place on choice of options. For teachers problems arise particularly where such methods are used with low staff/student ratios because continuous assessment is more time-consuming. Examiners have problems in interpreting marks, especially with joint work, and the role of the external examiner needs to be reconsidered. More evidence is needed before it can be concluded that continuous assessment justifies the extra resources it needs.
Geographical Film in Higher Education - Some Problems of Application
Michael J. Clark, Department of Geography, University of Southampton
The effective implementation of film-based teaching is hampered by three fallacies. First, that educational film must possess entertainment value. Second, that film is a subsidiary medium suited only to use as an aid or support within the teaching process. Third, that film must display objectivity and balance before it can be accepted as a viable teaching medium. The condemnation of films on the grounds that they fail to satisfy these fallacious criteria is a reflection of immature critical standards. Improved educational use of film demands enhanced awareness of the inherent properties of the medium, in particular the three sources of communication distortion which must be assessed in any form of documentary film criticism. The first is technical manipulation of the subject, deriving both from the syntax established by film editing and from the relationship between picture and commentary. The second is implicit conceptual manipulation related to decisions on film content. The third is the implication of the tone of presentation imposed by the film director. Attention to these points can assist both the film maker and the film user.
Soil Geography, its Content and Literature
E. M. Bridges, Department of Geography, University College of Swansea
Soil geography seeks to understand the distribution and formation of soils on the earth's surface. The study has theoretical, field and laboratory aspects, and the resulting maps and data can be interpreted in many ways, particularly for land use planning. This review surveys the available literature under these headings. It concludes with a selection of articles from a wide range of recently published journals which can further knowledge of world soils and introduce the reader to topics of current interest in soil geography and the wider field of soil science.
Some Problems of Varying Overlap between Secondary and Higher Education
Michael Bradford, Department of Geography, University of Manchester
This paper identifies some of the problems created by the varying school geography backgrounds of students entering higher education. They are illustrated by examining students' varying knowledge of the models of von Thunen, Christaller and Weber and some possible solutions to the problems are suggested.
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