Can we describe migration as a crisis?


The topic being examined is that of migration; specifically looking at migration as a theme that is worthy of examination, and also distantly geographical. This vignette looks at forced migration, 24 people being forced to leave their home every minute; and the fact that 3% of the population is moving ever hour. The UN definition of a migrant will be explored ‘people who live outside their country of origin for at least a year’. The difference in definition between a refugee and migrant will be explored – this is giving students the language that they can use to discuss the issue later in the unit.
As migration is incredibly complex; particularly when considering migration is frequently a result of geopolitical processes looking in depth at the causes is beyond the scope of a brief sequence of lessons with Year 8 (ages 12-13). Instead the focus will be on looking at the stories behind the migration on a personal level; this is something that is able to make migration theories clear to students, however at the same time it is specific enough as it uses real stories and examples to make it meaningful. The concept of a crisis will then be examined to explain why some people may refer to migration as a crisis; where as others may consider migration coming about as the result of a crisis.

I have chosen this image as it reflects the ideas that migration is about people moving but it is taking place in a global and complicated way. It does not view migration as a linear process but as a multifaceted process and the image is a way to get that across to pupils. The article that it comes from is useful as it provides a balanced view and considers the fact that migration is both a crisis and an opportunity. As part of the teaching sequence this will be used as a starter with students annotating it at the beginning of the teaching unit; and again at the end of the unit. This will be a very clear way to see how students have made progress in their understanding of migration as a geographical topic.


Why is substantive knowledge about geographical conditions or characteristics essential for understanding the example?

The substantive knowledge is important for understanding the geographical example is due to the complexity of the issue. At a surface level, migration can have a very accessible nature; however to understand the example fully you need to have an understanding of the precise definition of the topic; as well as an understanding of what the scale actually means. Therefore the substantive knowledge is to be able to understand the use of geographical language when tackling the examples.

What is geographically theoretical or conceptual about the example? How does the example support geographical thinking in a way that is systematic (i.e., does the example show the intellectual significance of geographical concepts such as location, place, region, pattern, spatial hierarchy, regional identity, etc.)?

The example is conceptual in that is based on the framework of migration; particularly as laid out in ‘Global Migration’ by Hanlon and Vicinio ( This explains and gives the language used for migration.

How does the example support geographical thinking or action in a way that can be applied (i.e., not just ‘inert’ knowledge regurgitated for a test)?

The example provides ways for students to challenge ‘popular knowledge’ on migration. This would include the ability to question tabloid headlines on migration and look where there are elements of truth but also elements that are not based on hard facts. This will give the students the language and framework they need to look at migration as a multifaceted issue, and one that can be considered from multiple points of view.

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