Aims Into Practice


This section considers some visions of geography as a subject in schools. It explores the implications of subject experts seen as leaders. It asks what are the responsibilities of leadership?

Geography education matters

Visions of Geography

Compare some of the visions of geography and geographical education in the videos. What are the most common themes? Are there any gaps?

How do these visions of geography compare with yours?



How do they compare with your ideas about Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge (PDK) and the Capabilities approach?

What is PDK?
What is Capabilities?

Are you a subject expert?

What is a Subject Matter Expert (SME)?

A subject-matter expert (SME) or domain expert is a person who is an authority in a particular area or topic.

Subject matter experts have special, in-depth knowledge that when shared with others, significantly enhances performance within an organisation.

In schools, SMEs are able to bring best practices, real-world examples and experience to the classroom.

They should be able to work independently and use their expertise to resolve complex issues in the discipline.

A subject expert is also someone who is able to successfully communicate knowledge about their specialism to other professionals.

They may also serve as a resource to others by sharing what they do.

Download and look at the Subject Matter Expert characteristics defined by Corp U

pdf graphic

From this document, identify the characteristics that are critical in teaching Geography.

Becoming an expert

Hierarchy of Skills Igor Kokcharov (2013) suggests there is a hierarchy of skills, competence acquisition and learning in becoming an expert. This is connected with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.Review the presentation. Consider the skills needed to become a subject expert and the necessary learning approaches.
How does this approach relate to the Future 3 curriculum?

What is a Future 3 curriculum? (pdf download)


Subject leadership, curriculum leaders

Identifying Subject Leaders

Look at the presentation on subject leadership.

What are the characteristics you might look for in a geography subject expert?

Explore the Internet and social media looking for “geography subject experts” in teaching.

Create a list of Web addresses of those who might provide you with useful support.

  • Why do you think they are experts?
  • What profile do these “geography subject experts” have?
  • Are they old or young?
  • Male or female?
  • Online and active?
  • Making recommendations to others?

As professionals, teachers should play a decisive leadership role in choosing content and how to teach it

Teachers as professionals

Teachers have to make many choices when working ias subject teachers in school. Consider the choices you make.

According to Englund (2015) teachers as professionals should play a decisive leadership role in choosing content and how to teach it.

Do you agree with this statement? Take the Poll

Should teachers play a decisive leadership role in choosing the content to teach and how to teach it?


As an example of choices teachers have to make, Englund describes the teachers (of citizenship and social studies) as having to choose between five different types of curriculum purpose, as well as the choice of content and teaching methods.

These five types are:

  • Traditional values-based
  • Preparation for the workplace and an employability-oriented, focusing on individual competences
  • Preparation for active, participatory engagement by means of critical analyses
  • Social studies based on theory, with social science disciplines as points of reference.
  • Problem-oriented teaching based on students’ experiences. PDK image

This indicates that the subject can be interpreted and taught in very different ways.

Do you agree with all five types?

How does this list of different curriculum purposes compare with those you use when teaching? Are there any ways missing which geography employs?

With leadership comes responsibility

Leadership, Teacher Responsibility

As a teacher, you have the responsibility to deal with the choice of content, curriculum, approach and pedagogy.

This is represented in this curriculum making diagram (click to enlarge).

Curriculum Making

Consider your role as a teacher – leader:

  • How do you deal with questions about the interpretation of your subject (Geography) as a discipline?
  • How could / should you deal with it?

Dealing with such questions implies teachers should not only identify what is the most important knowledge but also what is the subject standpoint on it, or what is described in GeoCapabilities as Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge (PDK).

Review the presentation on Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge for curriculum leadership.

In leadership terms, school curricula are in practice interpreted, designed, and performed by teachers in their own ways.


Teachers have the power (the responsibility) to interpret and teach geography in different ways

In GeoCapabilities, teachers should be able to connect their disciplinary knowledge with broader educational aims, through a process of curriculum making.

How does the curriculum purpose fit in with your understanding of Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge and a Future 3 curriculum?

What is PDK?
What is a Future 3 curriculum? (pdf download)

The next part of Module 4 deals with Communicating Capabilities