Improving Geographical Thinking in the Classroom with the Curriculum Making Model, pp. 3 of 8

The subject circle refers to the geography curriculum as a key resource for teachers and students. As Rawding (2013) has asserted, students need to learn and be taught both physical and human geography to understand and explain the interconnections between both to have a holistic understanding of any geographical issue they are studying. However, Lambert and Morgan (2010) argue that, if teachers focus on presenting the subject matter only without eliciting student perspectives in the lesson, or use student-centered pedagogies to learn, students may become passive learners of geography.

The student experiences circle reminds teachers to tap on and find out more about their students’ experiences in the topic being taught or use relevant communication platforms used by young people in the lessons where possible to engage them and to tap on their skills and knowledge from these areas. Lambert and Morgan (2010) warn that if a curriculum or lesson is designed to only serve students’ interest without any subject content, that lesson may not provide opportunities for students to learn new knowledge and skills or think geographically in the lesson.

Lastly, the teacher’s circle includes the teacher knowledge in the subject, skills and ability to teach effectively with a repertoire of pedagogies. Simon Catling (2013) suggests that teachers use the enquiry approach in teaching and learning to allow students to develop geographical thinking. Lambert and Morgan (2010) also warn of a curriculum being “emptied” if teachers only demonstrate their strength in pedagogies in teaching in the classroom without reflecting on the geography knowledge and skills learnt by students in their classroom (p.51).

In summary, the GA (2012) posits that curriculum making’s main goal is to “make geography happen” in the classroom for students. The merger of these three essential components - the Geography content, teacher choices and student experiences - with one another in balance achieves the intended outcomes of curriculum making (Catling, 2013). As Lambert and Morgan (2010) assert, teachers play an import role as curriculum makers in the classroom and have to make critical choices to keep the three components in balance to ensure that geography is learnt in their lessons. This supports the viewpoints of Jackson (2006),  Rawding (2013) and Roberts (2014) discussed earlier. When teachers begin to think geographically about the content they are teaching and make it engaging and meaningful for their students, they are moving forward in the direction of being curriculum makers.

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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