The educated person in this day and age needs to think geographically.
Thinking geographically (GeoCapability) requires engagement with the powerful geographical knowledge. We make sense of the world using ideas (concepts) that provide us with geographical perspectives. Geographical thinking visions humankind and its relationship with planet Earth, and we use geographical concepts to do this.
The GeoCapabilities approach encourages teachers to challenge and develop children’s geographical imaginations and understanding. Children learn to use specialist concepts such as Place, Space, Scale, Environment, Diversity, and Interdependence.
A curriculum of engagement is one in which both teachers and students are engaged with these ideas.
Curriculum Scenarios: Three Futures
Young and Muller’s ‘Three Futures’ argument is very helpful. They set out three curriculum ‘scenarios’ all of which can be present, sometimes even in the same education system at the same time. GeoCapabilities adopts a Future 3 (F3) approach to curriculum thinking.
Future 1 GeoCapabilities rejects a ‘traditional’, fact-based curriculum. This treats knowledge as ‘given’ and fixed. It is usually a curriculum of transmission: the teachers are the givers and the students are the receivers. It is an under-socialised curriculum, with little dialogue or engagement. We call this Future 1 (F1).
Future 2 GeoCapabilities also rejects the so-called ‘progressive’ curriculum that focuses too heavily on skills and competences. This curriculum is sometimes grossly overly-socialised. Student ‘learn to learn’, but often it seems as if the subject disciplines are arbitrary. We call this Future 2 (F2). It often looks like a curriculum of engagement. But the engagement is with the pedagogic ‘activity’, as if ‘learning to learn’ were the only aim. See here for some arguments about the flaws of F2.
Towards Future 3: a curriculum of engagement
Future 3 GeoCapabilities is concerned with active pedagogies, but also with what young people learn. GeoCapabilities wants teachers and young people to be engaged with dynamic, evolving geographical knowledge. Future 3 is interested in the shifting ideas and arguments that have created powerful disciplinary knowledge. It is this, rather that lists of disconnected, inert or given ‘facts’, that defines the F3 curriculum.
GeoCapabilities helps promote a curriculum of engagement, based on Future 3 curriculum thinking.
David Lambert talks about some of these ideas.