Volume 4, Issue 1 2015

Geography Edition of HSSE

In this special geography issue of HSSE Online, we acknowledge geography teachers’ role in geographical education by inviting classroom practitioners to share their reflections on issues in geography education research. As noted by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1959, “It is no exaggeration to say that the 10,600 teachers in all our schools constitute the most influential group of 10,600 people anywhere in Singapore” (cited by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the MOE Promotion and Appointment Ceremony, 2015). What teachers do in their classrooms has profound implications for students’ learning and development.

This collection of articles, though centred around geography education, is largely applicable to a wider humanities education audience as it deals with disciplinary value and purpose, the organisation and prioritisation of curricular content, and teachers’ roles in negotiating these various issues and perspectives. Zainab Banu Hassan’s article applies the curriculum making model advocated by the Geographical Association in the UK as a means to evaluate curriculum resources for developing students’ geographical thinking. Liu Zhen considers the applicability of a conceptual approach to geography as a means to organise geographical content for teaching, while Paul Seah reflects on Young’s (2010) powerful knowledge and the debates within geography education about whether pupils’ experiences should be part of the formal curriculum. Ng Mui Leng’s article examines the debates surrounding whether the study of the earth’s systems sits better within a geography or science curriculum, as well its value in the education of students in Singapore. Finally Peh Shi Yun considers the relationship between teachers’ geographical knowledge and their classroom practice within a wider analysis of other types of powerful influences on what they do.

The final two articles in this issue address issues that have great relevance to geography teachers in their practice. The article by Norfarahin Binte Abdul Rahim and Wu Bing Sheng highlights the importance of disaster education in countries like Taiwan that suffer natural hazards frequently, and assesses the success of disaster prevention literacy in an elementary school. The article also reveals how fieldwork and qualitative and quantitative analyses help geography teachers analyse, interpret, and represent in-situ data. The last article by Adelina Chandra and her colleagues is invited to share their regional study in Southeast Asia. The authors explore impacts of tourist facilities on the transition of Gubugklakah Village, Malang, Indonesia. Their findings reflect how local people benefitted from the growing number of tourists and how the new tourist facilities are geographically expanded along the popular attraction sites. Geography teachers can be inspired by the fusion of qualitative and quantitative analyses in fieldwork study.

Tricia Seow
Bing Sheng Wu

Improving Geographical Thinking in the Classroom with the Curriculum Making Model

"Geography teachers often use curriculum artefact(s) in their lessons to aid students’ learning of content knowledge, concepts or skills. How effectively have artefact(s) been used in such lessons to help students think geographically? This paper demonstrates how an artefact chosen as a resource for a lesson could be evaluated vis-à-vis the Curriculum Making model introduced by the Geographical Association in UK to enhance both teachers’ and students’ ability to think geographically in the classroom. To enhance geographical thinking in the classroom the Curriculum Making model requires three essential elements to be in balance: the geographical content, teacher choices and student experiences. Through the analysis of an artefact, this paper also discusses teachers’ important role in making decisions as a curriculum maker in the classroom to allow geographical thinking to happen in the classroom."

Concepts as the Grammar of Geography: A Reflection

"Geographical concepts are an important means of organising an otherwise long and unconnected list of geographical places, names and topics, and arguably provide geographers with a “grammar” with which to give order to geographical content. This paper reflects on the usefulness and applicability of such a conceptual approach to teaching geography in the Singapore classroom."

Radicalization of Geographical Education in Singapore through Powerful Knowledge and Powerful Pedagogy

"Debate about the purpose of a geography education is often related to what should be included and emphasised in the curriuclum. This article considers Young’s (2010) conceptualisation of powerful knowledge and reflects on its relationship to pedagogy. More specifically, it considers if students’ knowledge should be part of the formal curriculum."

The “rightful place” of Physical Geography in Singapore’s School Geography Curriculum

"The role of physical geography within geography, its relationship to human geography, as well as its similarities and differences to the study of science have been topics of intense debate in geography. This article engages these debates as they apply to geography education in a highly urban Singapore context and argues that the nexus of physical and human geography provides students with the type of knowledge that best prepares them to be concerned and informed global citizens."

Negotiating the Role of the (Beginning) Teacher in the Classroom

"Teachers play an important role in enacting the curriculum for their students, but teachers’ classroom practice is affected by a multiplicity of influences. This paper reflects on the role of teachers’ subject knowledge in their practice of geography in Singapore classrooms. In addition, it also applies a post-modern analysis of power to this knowledge-practice relationship, suggesting that many beginning teachers may not be able to draw on their subject knowledge due to other more powerful influences on their teaching."

Disaster prevention literacies: Assessing the knowledge, skills and attitude of Taiwanese students for an earthquake disaster

"Natural disaster education can play a very important role in mediating the impact of natural disasters. If it is imparted at an early age, it could yield positive results such as reducing the risks and consequences of natural disasters. In Taiwan, disaster prevention literacy begins in elementary schools. A disaster prevention framework requires all schools to impart citizens with knowledge about earthquakes, the skills to act and respond appropriately when disaster strikes, and the attitudes necessary for preparedness. Although the implementation of the framework helps equip citizens with these three integral domains of disaster prevention literacy, it is worth examining if Taiwanese citizens are in possession of the necessary knowledge about earthquakes or have the skills to act and respond appropriately to earthquakes based on their school education. This study is based on questionnaire survey data to evaluate if the implementation of the disaster prevention framework plays a vital role in Taiwan’s disaster education. The results reflect that the framework to nurture disaster prevention literacy is successful and could serve as a model to be followed by earthquake-prone countries where people’s preparedness for earthquakes is problematic."

Impacts of the development of tourist facilities on the transition of villages: A case study of Gubugklakah Village, Malang, Indonesia

"Gubugklakah village is located in eastern Malang, Indonesia. The settlement grows along the main road towards the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS). This village has high economic potential because of the tourism activities. Lembaga Desa Wisata (LADESTA) is a local community formed in 2009 that initiated the status transition of Gubugklakah into Gubugklakah Tourism Village. This research study focuses on the development of tourist facilities in Gubugklakah. Tourist facilities are categorized as primary, secondary and conditional facilities in order to determine and analyse development since the status of the community changed. The method used was a descriptive spatial analysis based on a field survey that included observations and interviews. The results of this study indicate that the number of primary, secondary and conditional tourist facilities is increasing and the facilities are developed linearly along the main road of TNBTS. Furthermore, secondary facilities established by local people, such as restaurants, hotels, and shopping centres, also help the economy in Gubugklakah Tourism Village."

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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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