Improving Geographical Thinking in the Classroom with the Curriculum Making Model, pp. 5 of 8

Discussion and Evaluation of artefact vis-à-vis curriculum making model

From the subject circle, the video artefact is able to represent holistic geography viewpoints to students. In terms of geographical knowledge, students are able to learn big ideas such as place, the impact of poverty on people and the environment and sustainability, and concepts such as malnutrition, poverty and food aid. Students will be able to learn about a type of long term food aid in an audio-visual resource which is not illustrated in their geography textbook. Sending cows as food aid illustrates to the students an example of a sustainable and long term food aid, as support and education is constantly provided by the charity organization on how to care for the animals and how to sell the animal’s by products, such as milk, manure and young calves. The video provides insights into the improvement of the standard of living and quality of life of adults and children living in these parts of Africa after the cows were given. It also shows the improvement in farming practices with the presence of manure as fertilizer to grow more crops in villages which were experiencing food shortages earlier. Hence from this video, students can revisit the geographical concepts they have learnt earlier in the chapter on malnutrition, starvation and poverty, and rethink and evaluate if the example of sending a cow as a form of food aid is effective in solving poverty, starvation and malnutrition in affected areas of the world sustainably and successfully.

However, the curriculum artefact lacks the inclusion of student experiences and teacher choices. Though the video is rich in geographical content and examples relevant to the topic, by using the video solely in their lessons, teachers may not be able to tap on students’ experiences, their views on the video or elicit students’ personal experiences in charity work. Hence, planned discussions or collaborative discussions and opportunities need to be created in the lessons to elicit students’ views or shared experiences on the issue and to extend this knowledge so students can make connections with these themes and concepts in their curriculum and the world.

With the use of a curriculum artefact, teacher’s knowledge of the subject content and the enquiry questions they ask their students to help them think geographically, as well as the pedagogies they use with the curriculum artefact, become essential to extend students’ geographical understanding of the topic. By linking it with other physical and human concepts such weather and climate, effects of war, gender issues and spread of  diseases like HIV and AIDs, students’ knowledge will be extended beyond the topic and syllabus outcomes. Without the teachers’ input students may not learn the “powerful knowledge” that could be gleaned from this topic (Young, 2010). Only teachers can engineer their lessons and activities to link and connect what the students already know to other geographical concepts and geo-ethical issues that are related to the topic. These may result in students learning beyond the syllabus outcomes as John F. Bobbit (1918) has asserted in his idea of curriculum making (Catling, 2013). Thus, if a curriculum artefact is used alone, without the teacher’s input to link it with other geographical concepts to extend students’ viewpoints and experiences on the issue, there may not be geographical thinking in the classroom. Students may be left wondering what the resource was used for in the lesson. Thus, teachers’ choice is required to understand the geographical knowledge in the video and to make connections and extend the concepts the students may have learnt in other sub-topics in the chapter.

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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