Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moana.... cultural appropriation discussion

The latest Disney film features characters from Polynesian mythology...
This Guardian article suggests it's not the first film to engage in this cultural appropriation....

Monday, September 5, 2016

New British Red Cross resource...

A new resource that I wrote for the British Red Cross has now been published, and placed online for download. It's taken almost a year from the original start of the project, which John Lyon asked me to do before he retired from the GA. During that time it has grown and become a major resource.

It's 130 pages long, and packed with ideas for teaching about natural hazards and humanitarian aid.

Free to download from the British Red Cross website.

“We urge all geography teachers to download this free resource and encourage young people to think about the humanitarian impact of natural disasters. This invaluable resource pack has been created with the technical input from the British Red Cross combined with the expertise of GA teacher consultants.”
Rebecca Kitchen, Secondary Curriculum Leader at the Geographical Association

Introduction and curriculum links

Learn about how the resource has been designed to support your teaching and how the content maps to the geography curriculum for KS3, GCSE and A Level.

Session 1: Natural disasters

Session 1 is an introduction to the Natural disasters: earthquakes resource. It sets the scene by introducing the topic of natural disasters alongside general ideas of risk and hazard.
  • What do we mean by natural hazards and disasters and how can they be classified?
  • Which natural hazards are the most common?
  • What impacts will different natural disasters have on individuals and communities?

Session 2: Earthquakes

After a general introduction to natural hazards and disasters, this session moves on to look more specifically at earthquakes, with a focus on tectonic hazards.
  • Where do earthquakes happen, and why?
  • What were the causes of the Nepal earthquake?
  • How can people who live in areas prone to natural hazards prepare themselves for future events?
  • Could the Nepal earthquake have been predicted?

Session 3: The impact of a natural disaster

Session 3 focuses on the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster like an earthquake and the work of local and international Red Cross teams to support people affected.
  • What was the immediate impact of the Nepal earthquake?
  • What was the immediate humanitarian response to the earthquake?
  • How were local and international communities involved in this response?

Session 4: Recovery and resilience

After a natural disaster the Red Cross supports the people affected as they start to recover and rebuild their lives.
  • What are the longer term impacts of a natural disaster and how do people recover?
  • How resilient were individuals and communities in Nepal to the earthquake?
  • How can communities increase their resilience – what about the school community? What might make a community more or less resilient?
  • What lessons can be learned from each event so citizens are better prepared for them in future?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Canterbury Tale

This is in my top 3 films (if I have one...)
There is something about it which grabbed me the first time I saw it, and continues to do so now decades later...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Media literacy and geographies of consumption...

Here's the latest resource that I have worked on (a little - I gave some guidance on the contents and Finnish translation and activities)

It's been developed by Eeva Kemppainen and Ian Cook, who I've worked with previously.

Developed for Pro-Ethical Trade Finland

This guide sets out an approach to teaching media literacy and the geographies of consumption that has been developed by the NGO Pro Ethical Trade Finland (Eettisen kaupan puolesta ry), with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland.
A subvertisement workshop involves interpreting and subverting the messages made in product advertising.
With their teachers, students are shown how to critically read advertisements brought into the classroom and encouraged to work out:
• How images and texts are designed to convey a message about a commodity
• How advertisements convey relationships between people, places and things
• What claims advertisements make about the origins and uses of commodities and what information and imagery is missing
• How advertisements can be altered to convey alternative messages
• How and where subvertisements can encourage critical readings of advertisements?

Children and young people are bombarded by diverse commercial messages on social media, on the street, on TV, in movies and in games. Teachers can help students to learn the differences between journalism and marketing as well as develop their capacity to critically interpret what they see and hear.

Would be useful for Cultural Geographers and also connections with Changing Places units as well.




You can download a copy of the whole guide in English (unless you want it in Finnish) as a PDF file.

For more on the previous work that I have done with Ian and Eeva check out the Follow the Things education page.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Pole of Cold Exhibition

If you are heading to the Historic Dockyards at Chatham over the next few months, you can check out a specially expanded version of the Pole of Cold exhibition which has been to several other locations over the last few years.


This is the expedition which I got involved with in a small way by writing the educational resources, funded by the RGS-IBG (as was the expedition).

The resources won a Scottish Association of Geography Teacher's (SAGT) Award in 2014.

Read more about it in earlier posts on this blog.

Further details of the exhibition:

Discover the mystical world of the Arctic and the people who live there.  From Shamanism to ice cream. Kent’s very own polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE presents a diverse and exciting exhibition, which combines the natural world, adventure and art.  This compelling exhibition gives an insight into the coldest place on earth.
Pole of Cold explores what life is like in some of the coldest permanently inhabited places in the Arctic.  The photographs and words are from the expedition led by Felicity Aston and are visually stunning.
This exhibition mixes stunning photography with a number of interactive elements:
  • Try on a pair of snow goggles or mittens worn to protect against the cold
  • Design your own polar clothing in our own version of a Siberian house
  • Listen to traditional chants known as ‘joiking*’
  • Discover a series of little known facts about the peoples of the Arctic through your journey in the gallery
  • Tell us what winter means to you!

New 'A' level book now published...

Breaking into the summer break for some important news

The AQA 'A' level Geography textbook that I worked for over 2 years on editing and co-writing (and re-writing) is now in stock at the publishers! Order your copies now.

Thanks again to everyone who helped with the project!

Image: Caroline Walton from CUP

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Crystal Serenity - cultural opportunities...

This post has been in draft for a couple of months, and the story has evolved since it was first announced. This would now be a useful idea for exploring fragile cold environments.

I'm going to try to develop this as an evolved case study piece, but ran out of time… will come back to this I think

I've just read a Jonathan Franzen piece on Antarctica in the Times which was excellent and worth hunting out...

The Crystal Serenity is a large cruise ship, which is going to boldly go on a voyage this summer, setting off in August 2016… and it's one that all geographers should be fascinated by. The ship is going to sail around the north of Canada, and go through what would have been referred to in the past as the Northwest Passage.
The ship's website has a range of detail on the voyage, which includes the itinerary and the route that the ship is going to take. I won't put it here due to copyright, but it's well worth hunting out and taking a look.

The voyage is rather expensive too (at over $20 000 per person), as all Polar voyages are, and apparently all the places have been booked.

This has attracted a lot of interest given the size of the ship, and also the nature of the voyage, which is a commercial voyage through an area which is being changed by human activity, and the ship may well cause other interruptions to daily life for people who live in the area.

The ship will be accompanied on the voyage by the BAS ship Sir Ernest Shackleton.
This has a heavily armoured hull which can withstand ice, and will also be able to have a
range of additional equipment and potentially help with an evacuation if there is a problem with the cruise ship. There has been some criticism of a scientific ship being used in this way.
There is a Canadian radio show here which includes a useful 30 minute report on the proposed voyage, although it won't be there for ever.

The Guardian has published an article on the voyage, which provides some useful additional information.

However, Klaus Dodds, who specialises in geopolitics has pointed out that there are lots of different perspectives at play in the Arctic, and this is just one of them. This is excellent on how Nunavut and Cambridge Bay is preparing for the visit.

And via Twitter, I came across a useful few tweets with ideas that are relevant, including from people living in the area.

A Pew Trust research report also contains some very useful diagrams and data on the growing changes in the Arctic.

There's a splendid infographic on this National Post article.

And finally, there was a report published recently on the sustainability credentials of cruise holidays, and the impact of these large ships on the sea through which they sail.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

Cultural geography was at the heart of this really enjoyable Opening ceremony.

There were images of the rainforest, the arrival of European migrants, slavery, the changes in the landscape, and the growth of the cities and the favelas.
There was a major element of the environment about the event, with some visualisations on climate change being displayed prominently...

I enjoyed the city scenes with amazing projections on the floor of the stadium, and the fireworks were good as well.

The ceremony was shown with a delay in the USA apparently, and according to an article:
NBC responded to online criticism by saying that its team needed time to edit the ceremony and put it into context for viewers in the US.
In a statement, a spokesperson said: "It's not a sports competition.
"It's a cultural ceremony that requires deep levels of understanding, with numerous camera angles and our commentary laid over it.

"We think it's important to give it the proper context. And primetime is still when the most people are available to watch."

Pixar Piper

Out to see 'Finding Dory' today which is excellent - I preferred it to 'Finding Nemo' as there's more humour and invention, and of course the familiarity with the characters helps...
The short film that went with it was also wonderful. It's called 'Piper' and has exploration and overcoming fear at its heart... and of course it looks beautiful...
Are you ready to brave the waves?


Well done to Ollie Bray

Ollie has just finished an amazing 4228.5 mile unsupported ride across the USA from West to East. A really inspirational ride, and look forward to reading the book.

TransAM Miles: 4228.5 miles

Getting Lost / Accessing Services off-route miles: 36 miles

Total Miles: 4264.5 miles

Total Time: 28 days, 2 hours and 46 mins

Average miles per day: 152 miles

Longest Mileage Day: 202 miles (who even thought that was possible!)

Shortage Milage Day: 73 miles

Normal time cycling each day: 16/17 hours

Total punctures: Six

Tires worn out: Five (three back and two front)

Brake Pads worn out: Two sets

Crashes: One (Day 14 - all healed now but week three was pretty sore!)

Lowest Point: Sea Level 0m/ft at Astoria and Yorktown

Highest Point: 3617m / 11,539ft at Hoosier Pass, Colorado

Tubes of Chamois Cream used: 2.5

Favorite State: Wyoming (Can’t beat Yellowstone and the Tetons + good to re-visit some of the places that I peddled on the 2008 Divide Route)

Least Favorite State: Kentucky

Total Beers consumed: Three (yes, three in 28 days… that's how tough / little time there has been!)

Bikes for sale: One (well used but loved and with full service history from one careful male owner…)


Ollie at the start:
On the continental divide:
And at the finish....

Friday, August 5, 2016

Google Favela Tour

Google has been working in the favelas of Brazil to produce a virtual fieldtrip experience which, with the Olympics about to start in earnest (some events have already started) is well worth taking a look at. Thanks to Ben Hennig for the tipoff to this resource.

Favelas are being mapped because "a big part of having an identity is having an atlas".
They are not just a place, they are a people, and to fully understand them, you must go inside...

This is colourful and is well worth experiencing (make sure that you wear your headphones when you do)


Monday, July 25, 2016

Pokemon Go - a cultural phenomenon...

Pokemon Go has been receiving a LOT of media attention.

This is now being described as a cultural phenomenon, and I will be blogging about the geographical aspects of the app here and over on LivingGeography.

Let me know if you have any articles that you come across relating to the use of the app.

We already have plenty written about the way that young people are spending time outside, but are they taking notice of where they are going?
Are they looking at the nature around them, or just the screen and their pokedex?

This article describes the idea that young people perhaps know more species of Pokemon than they know species of native plants and animals... You can also download the Phylo(mon) Card Game.

National Parks Week

National Parks Week is the National Parks family's annual celebration of everything that is unique and wonderful about Britain's breathing spaces.
It runs from Monday 25 to Sunday 31 July 2016.

The theme for National Parks Week 2016 is adventure
. With diverse landscapes, activities and events there's an adventure waiting at whatever scale suits you! 


One way to ensure that adventures take place is to get hold of a copy of Mission:Explore National Parks.
Available from all National Park shops for £5 or 500p....

I'm off to the Norfolk Broads later in the week for my National Park adventure...