Improving Geographical Thinking in the Classroom with the Curriculum Making Model, pp. 6 of 8

Hence, to create balanced curriculum making as shown in the model in Figure 1, the analysis of curriculum artefacts vis-à-vis the curriculum making model in Figure 2 requires the inclusion of teacher choices and student experiences to make geography happen in the classroom.

As Fien & Gerber (1988) have envisioned in “teaching geography for a better world,” teachers indeed have to “rethink their goals, content, resources and methods in geography teaching” (as cited in Morgan, 2002, p. 15) to make geography happen in the classroom and to allow students to think geographically. Teachers also have to equip students to ask “geographical questions” as Roberts (2013) has suggested, and to encourage the development of moral reasoning and judgment skills (Morgan, 2011, p.196) so that young people are exposed to decision making through careful consideration of economic, social, political, cultural and environmental viewpoints and factors.

The curriculum artefact discussed in this paper highlights real-world ethical issues such as poverty and food aid. These are controversial issues and are considered “wicked” issues by Morgan (2011), as these issues and problems are complex and cannot be resolved easily by plural societies (p.189). If teachers were to teach as if they were delivery agents of the curriculum, as Edge et.al. (2009) have highlighted in their research, where teachers “[present] knowledge about the world as if it was universal and therefore certain and unproblematic” (as cited in Martin, 2011, p.219), students will not learn to be ethical nor critical when confronted with real-world ethical issues in society when they are adults. To develop active and participatory citizens for the future, geography teachers need to play an active role as curriculum makers, providing balanced curricula which provide students with powerful knowledge from different viewpoints and factors (Martin, 2011).

Secondly, teachers need to give opportunities for students to engage in discussions on such controversial issues and topics in their classroom as students “tend to…improve critical thinking skills and communication skills, more civic knowledge and more interest in discussing public affairs out of school” (Civic Mission of the Schools Report, 2002, p.6 as cited in Hess, 2004, p. 257). Hence in order to execute such discussions in the classroom, Hess (2004) also asserts the need for teachers to be equipped with the updated knowledge from the subject discipline as well as to be incredibly skillful in their pedagogies. Again, the curriculum making model encourages teachers to think deeply about the intersections between their subject knowledge and their pedagogical choices. Lastly, teachers need to be balanced in their viewpoints when resolving controversial topics and issues to avoid indoctrination of their personal viewpoints (Campbell, 2003, as cited in Brooks, 2006). The curriculum making model compels teachers to consider the experiences and value orientations of their own students in the pedagogical process. Lambert and Morgan (2005) remind us that teachers can be “morally careless” if they fail to address the geography content of an issue critically, and when they fail to teach their students to think geographically (as cited in Brooks, 2006, p.77). The curriculum making model is a useful tool for helping teachers to think about the type of geography and geography thinking they bring into their classrooms.

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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