Accessing the discipline

Academic disciplines develop their own specific methods, approaches and knowledge. They evolve based on research and publications.

To offer powerful disciplinary knowledge to their students, teachers need to keep up to date with the latest ideas, information and research about the topics covered in the curriculum.

GeoCapabilities 3  seeks to redistribute knowledge as a resource, and better enable knowledge integration between school and academic geography.

The main issues relate to:

  • accessing suitable relevant resources and
  • developing the most appropriate pedagogies to support their students’ learning

This is the first step in the GeoCapabilities process.

This part of the toolkit provides ideas and suggestions to help teachers keep up-to-date with the discipline – relating to resources that they can access and modern approaches to the discipline.


The next diagram is a helpful tool for thinking about the way in which a GeoCapabilties approach connects to the discipline. Geography (the world in which we and the child lives) frames everything, then there is the child – education and all our teaching is, of course, about them. This leads down into the question of why the geography of the discipline should be taught…and finally to the questions of what geography and how to teach it.

click to enlarge

GeoCapabilities 3 undertook a survey of the teachers involved in the project and specifically in relation to teaching their students about migration.


The teachers confirmed they wanted access to what they regarded as ‘good reliable and up-to-date information’ that would better enable them to utilise reliable evidence to challenge students’ views.

One of the Czech teachers stated:
The biggest problem is in finding actual data and information on what is happening with migrant workers or temporary asylum seekers in the EU. What is the success of integration, what is the success rate of returning rejected asylum seekers? Students sometimes find it difficult to break down the basic stereotypes that come from families and the lack of specific information. Part of my teaching is more about disinformation and (its) function in society.”Teachers also commented on the impact of poor access in school to ICT to support access to the discipline and enable their students to undertake more independent learning. – section on the use digital technologies in class

The quality of resources was also identified as problematic for teachers, as popular textbooks show in pictures, figures and texts over-simplified messages. They also said that when teaching from a more quantitative approach, for instance ( when using data sources, diagrammatic representations etc) the topic of migration becomes too abstract for student to understand or relate to, as a result the teachers were concerned about students’ attitudes towards what is a challenging  topic.

The teachers identified useful and relevant sources (artefacts) to use when considering teaching about migration. They created vignettes (anecdotes or illustrations) as useful tools to help them express geographical issues.

See the Migration Vignettes of the GeoCapabilities 3 associate teachers.

vignettes graphic

GeoCapabilities believes it is important to develop relationships, so that  – how to develop the relational capabilities of students can be increased in order to develop students’ levels of understanding and empathy with complex choices and decisions that migrants have to make. Teachers need to focus on the relationship between the knowledge that students bring to school and the demands of Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge and build the students’ relational capabilities – with the learning content, with the teacher and with one another.

Geographical updates from reliable sources

On the challenging geographies section of this website there is a list of resources and further advice and discussion about migration as a geographical theme and challenging geographies more broadly. 

A key source on migration is: Castles, S. de Haas, H. and Miller, M.J. (2020) The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World (sixth edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

This book is a comprehensive and up to date source which pulls together academic research on migration geography in a thorough, but clear and accessible way. It is accompanied by a website, including short case studies which illustrate some of the current geographical processes and policy tensions around migration.

From this and some other sources we have put together a quick way to update your knowledge of international migration, based on the research of academic geographers, in a sheet – 13 myths about international migration