Geography

Well-being and Humanities Education in Singapore

"In February (2014), I was invited to Nagoya University (Japan) to participate in a symposium on well-being and education in the ASEAN region. Participants from ASEAN nations shared the state of well-being in their nations and considered the role education can play to promote well-being. My participation in this symposium led me to think about well-being in Singapore and the relationship between Humanities education and well-being."

A Space for Social Justice in Geography Education?

"The push for more attention on social justice in geography education has gained a stronger sense of urgency and greater coherence in recent decades. This has occurred in tandem with increasing attention paid by geographers to what this discipline, perceived by some as inherently concerned with injustice and disparity (Smith, 1994; Merrett, 2000), can do to contribute to a more equitable world. This push for what Kirman (2003) termed as “transformative geography” (p. 93) in education calls for teachers to introduce students to the geographical aspects of social justice and focus on how these issues are located at a number of interconnected geographic scales (local, regional, state and international). This will allow students to practice the “discipline of geography for the well-being of people and the environment in order to improve the world” (p. 93). "

Advancing a Framework for Climate Change Education in Singapore Through Teacher Professional Development

"Cities like Singapore have implemented numerous planning norms and policies that are aimed at addressing rapid urbanization. These efforts, however, have largely been state-driven and state-led. In other words, important behavioral norms such as the reduction of consumption of materials and energy have not necessarily been inculcated or accepted (Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Singapore, 2008). For instance, while there have been many public events and campaigns through mass media aimed at raising awareness, such campaigns only galvanize a small portion of the population to change their behavior in order to mitigate climate change. Schools, however, provide a favorable environment whereby environmental measures such as recycling activities can be put in place to promote positive attitudes and behaviors toward climate change. Formal lessons, in addition, can help to reinforce the concept of climate change and this in turn may influence students’ knowledge, attitude, and behavior towards climate change. "

Deepening Secondary Students’ Understanding of Coastal Management at Labrador Park through Fieldwork

"The impetus for action research on experiential learning of geography stems from a desire to introduce a more “engaged” form of geography, whereby students move beyond the academic study of geography in the classroom to making sense of geography in relation to their reality (Morgan, 2012). Through an environmental scan of the inclusion of fieldwork into the new Geography syllabus commencing 2013, we sought to find out how fieldwork is integral to the study of geography in Singapore schools. The choice of coastal geography as a topic for inquiry was strategically aligned to its inclusion in the new syllabus and its relevance to Singapore’s geography as an island. The feedback obtained from teachers participating in Professional Learning Circles (PLCs) also suggested that students found it challenging to understand abstract geography concepts, in particular, physical geography processes and how they take place in real world contexts. As such, a “disconnect” or a learning gap has been created between geography presented to the students in the textbook to that of their real world contexts. "

Geography Fieldwork is Not Mission Impossible

"Geography teachers face numerous difficulties in conducting fieldwork for their students. While the national curriculum is shifting towards a field inquiry approach, some pre-existing problems remain, such as the issues of large class sizes, the lack of suitable sites due to our highly urbanised landscape, and teachers who do not have an understanding of the role fieldwork plays in constructing meaning in Geography. Having an understanding of how geographical knowledge has evolved will allow teachers to adopt meaningful strategies in the field in order to maximise the construction of geographical concepts and learning of geographical skills. In this paper, I propose a simple matrix that identifies purpose and strategies as two key goals that can help teachers work towards the implementation of a meaningful fieldwork programme for students. "

What about Geography? The Geography Curriculum, Young People, Critical Thinking and Active Learning

"This paper is based on a workshop I ran at the Humanities Educators Conference (Singapore, 2012) with the same title. In the workshop, my intention was for the participants to consider ideas of critical thinking and active learning and how this might apply to their own practice. I used examples from geography lessons I had observed in England to illustrate the discussion. Converting a workshop into a paper is not an easy task. One of the benefits of a workshop is the interaction between the participants and the participant led discussion, which is necessarily absent from a paper which reflects a lone voice. Therefore, I have chosen to present some of the content of the session in this paper, and to encourage the reader to consider this content in the light of their own experience. As a geography educator from England, I do not pretend that I have the answers: critical thinking and active learning are challenging for all geography educators, and can differ depending on context. My intention is for individual geography teachers to come to their own understanding of what these terms mean and how they may develop them in their own classrooms."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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