Geography Review

Has there ever been a time when it has been more appropriate or relevant to study Geography with the passing of storm Ciara, wild fires raging in Australia, sea levels rising, global warming, climate change, plastic pollution, HS2, population displacement and a host of other dismaying and worrying effects on Planet Earth?  Despite the gloom there is also genuine hope and vision with the campaigns for cleaner air, less meat consumption, climate change action, recycling initiatives and, with some reservations about tactics, Global Extinction Revolution.  The younger generation is involved and passionate about protecting Planet Earth.  The lyrics to the Rag and Bone Man song, “I’m only human after all, don’t put the blame on me!” can be shouted down – humans ARE to blame but we have the solutions as well.  Education is one of them.

Pupils at Vinehall study a range of topics with environmental bias and they develop empathy and compassion for issues beyond the comfy surroundings of TN32 5JL.

Last Friday Year 8 pupils went to the Greenwich Peninsula to study the Millennium Village, an example of environmental planning in an urban area, as well as a visit to the Thames Barrier keeping London safe from rising sea levels.  Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the trip was the chance to catch the cable car over the Thames and then fly an Airbus 380 in a simulator run by the Emirates Airline.

Year 7 pupils got down and dirty last week visiting our local river in the gulley as part of their study into the processes sculpting the surface of Planet Earth.  The source of the River Line provided ‘hands on’ and ‘hands in’ learning as the photos of mud covered faces confirm.

Year 6 pupils are doing an in-depth study of weather and climate, learning about the types of rainfall, air masses, fronts and weather recording.  (Appropriate after storm Ciara recently!)  Some practical work is to follow, examining micro climates around the school grounds.  (I haven’t forgotten that I owe them a trip to the beach to see the coastal protection schemes in Bexhill).

Year 5 are making a study of South America learning the countries, capitals and physical features of this continent.  A closer study of the rain forest layers and the dangers of deforestation are opening their eyes to this phenomena and the world consumption of palm oil and burgers has been broached for their thoughts.  It’s very interesting what the young think are the problems and solutions.  If only it were so black and white!

Years 4 and 3 continue with their learning journeys combining many geographical topics, issues and skills along the way.

The core skills in Geography are becoming more embedded into the topics covered and I am sure further tinkering with these will happen as the thematic approach to the humanities becomes more established.

We say a fond (?) farewell to CE this summer as we look to recognise our pupils’ strengths at the end of next Year 8 with a more skill-based summary of their studies, rather than a single hour examination as all they have to show for their broad curriculum.

To conclude – Geography is out there and we try to ‘get out there’ as often as time and weather allow.  Geography is fun – the smiles on the muddy faces of Year 7 and the feedback from Year 8 about their trip only give encouragement to those of us lucky enough to teach such a full and varied subject.  Geography?  It’s the best subject on Earth!

Nick Butcher