Spent the weekend in the New Forest helping to train adult volunteers how to take young people into the outdoors. The course is based at the Burgate school in Fordingbridge. I really enjoy these courses as it’s a chance top meet many like minded people who are passionate about outdoor learning. It does make me wonder about the number of topics that are unnecessarily taught within the confines of a classroom in geography.
For example – how many people teach map skills in the class room? To me this has never made sense and I try to ensure that map skills are taught in the context of outside. For example, using a 1:25,000 map of the school grounds to explore contours. Portsmouth must be the flattest place on earth (ok, maybe an exaggeration!). There is only 1/2 contour lines that cut through the school so Year 7 act a detectives to see if they can find them.
I’ll be thinking about the other topics that could be taught outside using the school grounds and what is around the local area (e.g. 5/10 mins walk). I think that if I use the new KS3 documents to localise the curriculum (although I’m not getting rid of the global, regional or any wider context!) then more use of the local area can be made. So for example, I may remove rivers from the SoW and look at local coastal planning issues instead?
Also, one of my favorite navigation exercises has got to be night navigation. Exploring places at night not only sharpens up map skills but also creates a completely different sense of place. I’m a sensible sort of bloke, but I always get spooked when walking through a forest enclosure. The effect is multiplied as the group are very quietly counting their paces! Could there be an application in the geography curriculum? Are there opportunities to get pupils out into the night to get a different sense of place. How do spaces change at night? Are they better in the dark? Maybe during the proposed SLN meet this year we should go out into the night……….