Monday, February 25, 2008

No 1 in Germany

Evidence against a Global Culture ?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Jumper is a new film which has the premise that the lead character can teleport himself to anywhere in the world. This is obviously an intoxicating idea, and instantly appealing to Geographers. Where would YOU go if you could go anywhere right now ?

YouTube user JoeBeacher has produced a rather nice Geography response to this idea, which is well worth watching. Click the link below (sadly this will not be displayed in school as the site is blocked...)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

5 hours of Culture per week

...and some of it can be in their GEOGRAPHY LESSONS of course...

Try the CULTURE QUIZ on the BBC website.

And here's the story...

Too much culture !

This week is half term, and I'm being bombarded with cultural stuff...
Most of this is also directly relevant to the Pilot GCSE stuff.

First of all, just been reading about Martin Parr's new edition of his book: "Small World"
Small World is about tourism, and shows the difference between the mythology of a place and the reality when you get there - about what you think a place will be like and then forgetting that there'll be hundreds of other people there too... Got a flavour of that on Holkham Beach earlier in the week...
I love Martin Parr's approach to photography.
His themes of leisure, consumption and communication are a perfect counterpoint to the geography that we have been developing.
There are also plenty of homages to his work on Flickr.

A good blog post here by James Lomax, who has also posted some rather nice pictures of his own as a counterpoint to Parr's.
I particularly liked this one:

Image copyright: James Lomax

Next up was Philippe Legrain's "Open World": particularly Chapter 12: "Culture Clash". This looks at the increasing homegeneity of global culture: an idea we are going to be developing after half term with my Year 11 Geographers. Philippe is also the author of another essential purchase for Geographers: "Immigrants". Click HERE to read an extract from this book.I looked up Philippe's blog and came across this comment on one of his posts by 'Nabila Kazi', who attended a lecture he gave on immigration at the Institute of Economic Affairs:
I am not an economist, but am studying geography and therefore I approach the subject of immigration in a different way. There was talk about wanting a reduction in Britain's population which I find very strange given that the country has an ageing population. Before the recent influx of immigrants, the country was subject to extremely low fertility rates which forecasted a dangerous future for the economic welfare of the country. Without immigrants, in a country where people are focusing more on career rather than family prospects, a decreasing population is exactly what is in store for the future. However it is not a beneficial decrease because low birth rates result in a decreased number of economically active people in the future, which in turn will increase the dependency ratio of the country. As the ratio increases, there is increased strain on the productive part of the population to support the upbringing/pensions etc of the economically dependent. In turn there are direct financial impacts on the social security of the UK: Taxes will rise, general stability and balance of the country will decrease. This is something that most people last night fail to understand. We need immigrants just as much as 'they need us'.

A very useful paragraph for our Year 12 Geographers to discuss, or even our Year 9s ?

I was also directed to a rather great article in YALE GLOBAL ONLINE also by Philippe which looks at the issue of global culture: and uses the phrase masala: one used in the Open World book too.
Scroll to the bottom of the article and not only can you print the article but there are links to lots of similar articles on themes of globalisation and immigration. This could keep you going for a long time...

Next up was a reminder of some Tony Cassidy classics on Coca Cola, which links with the Legrain book.
It can be downloaded from Tony's Radical Geography website.
This is a great introduction to GLOBALISATION using a PRODUCT as the way in..All representations of Coca Cola and their logo are trademark / copyright Coca Cola company and are reproduced here for educational / non-profit reasons to illustrate the role of these companies in the emergence or otherwise of a 'Global' culture. I'm drinking a can of Diet Coke as I type this blog post...

'Culture Clash' includes some very useful quotes, including one from Naomi Klein's "No Logo" which is another classic in this area.

Am also scouring the More4 listings for a repeat of Dave Gorman's "America Unchained" which I shamefully forgot to Sky+ the other day, and would have been perfect for this particular unit too...Also in 'Coast' magazine was the results of their 2007 Awards.
A lot of familiar places and people winning them.
Was interested in the Waveney Sunrise Scheme to regenerate Lowestoft Town Centre and seafront, and this gave me a thought about a possible fieldtrip. Might need to make my way over there...
Also the East Beach Cafe at Littlehampton in West Sussex...
More on this in a future post, but I'm off to have a lie down after this mammoth post !

Monday, February 11, 2008

Memories of Liverpool

Thanks to a Scottish virtual colleague of mine for passing on her memories of her childhood in Liverpool. This is going to be something that will develop further, and I am grateful to Liz for this input. I would welcome any comments from readers who recognise the places mentioned here, or who had similar experiences (whether in Liverpool or not...)

Liverpool reminiscences

I was born in the Wirral in 1959 and remember spending time in Liverpool as a youngster in the 1960’s / early 70’s.

Social activities

Kardomah café – the only opportunity we had to eat out – beans on toast was real treat !

We occasionally travelled to shop in Liverpool – George Henry Lees ( now part of John Lewis) was the very posh department store. My mum always took us to use the toilets there because they were very clean !


I recall the RC cathedral being built and our first visit to what then was a very modern and unusual building no one had seen anything like it before. It was light and airy and round. I can still remember seeing the sun coming through the stained glass and being enthralled by it. I had never been in a building like it.

The Anglican cathedral is a huge sandstone building and there was a story about it still not being finished after hundreds of years of building !

The street between the two cathedrals is called Hope Street which many people feel is very appropriate.

St John’s tower and shopping precinct were very radical when built especially as the restaurant at the top rotated once in an hour. It was very grand and expensive and I still have never been there.

Royal Philharmonic Hall – a very famous concert venue and home of the Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra. The held concerts of many types there – a very grand hall.

St George’s Hall – a huge building used for many cultural activities – I think there was an Art Gallery there too.

Liverpool Empire – theatre venue – we went to see the ballet Copelia there one Christmas and I think some pantomimes too. There were lots of cinemas and I recall standing in a very long queue to see the new film "Mary Poppins" and then going to the Kardomah Café for tea.

I think the main shopping street was Bold Street which always seemed a strange name to me.


Lime Street station the main railway station – always sounded so grand and seemed so huge and busy.

With living on the Wirral we had to use either the “ferry across the Mersey” or the road tunnel under the river to get to Liverpool. There was always a great thrill of travelling on the ferry as this was very exotic. (Foreign holidays were not commonplace so this was a real treat for us,) As the Liver building came closer there was great excitement. Many people commuted by ferry as it was possible to buy a cheap day return and the times tied in with buses.

The tunnel was built (I think) in the 1930’s and I recall the new tunnel opening – it was a very strange sensation going underground in a car – it always seemed quite smelly from the fumes. My Dad commuted by motor scooter and he always wore a scarf to cover his mouth to prevent him breathing in the car fumes.

Industry / Jobs

In the 1960’s the Old Dock Road was a busy place but as the decade wore on it became very run down and by 1970’s many derelict buildings/ boarded up shops. You no longer saw the huge ships in the port and the river was far less busy. As you drove through there were many more people hanging round on street corners – I now assume they were unemployed dock workers. The Ford factory at Halewood ( built in the 60’s ??) was seen as a new source of employment and was welcomed.


A large student population and a popular choice for university with a variety of course available at the various centres of Higher Education. It was my second choice of university – but I found the temptations of the bigger city of Manchester too much to resist !


In the 1980’s we returned to live on the Wirral and we visited Liverpool on a few occasions in 1984 for the Garden Festival. It was a successful event when views as a visitor but in the long term some people argue that little remains that was of benefit to the city ( for the amount it cost).

Around that time although we did not attend there was great excitement as the Pope visited and held a huge outdoor mass which was attended by vast numbers of people.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Archbishop / Sharia Controversy

Image copyright: News of the World website.

I was going to post here about this obvious contemporary story related to what we have talked about in lessons: the dominant culture adapting in some areas to allow for a change in the law in some instances. Several people have got in first of course. This has proved to be a controversial issue...

Tony Cassidy has an interesting summary of the issue in THIS POST. Click and read.

It's interesting that this has resulted in calls for the Archbishop to resign.
So much for cultural pluralism...

On a completely banal theme relative to this, tomorrow sees the launch of Ratatouille on DVD: legally that is... ;)
This is my son's favourite film, and we are looking forward to it, and also the additional extras on the DVD. We're also enjoying the computer game.
This BBC ARTICLE talks about some more awards for the film...
The film's underlying story is "anyone can cook", but remember also "anyone can blog" and "anyone can succeed at geography" - as long as they do the work and read the blog !

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A classic....

Give yourself a short break to watch this classic Russian animation by Yuri Norstein.

Are you one of them ?

A nice introductory video for a forthcoming series on BBC about 'youth tribes'....

The ARE YOU ONE OF THEM site has some ideas and case studies of some groups that have been identified. Good introduction to the idea of SUB-CULTURES.
Also follow the link to see what tribe some 'celebrities' thought they belonged to when they were younger...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pancake Day

Just had a pancake or three...
What's the cultural background to this particular celebration ?

Thanks to Stephen Schwab from SLN for pointing out an article on the geographical differences in the music that we like between the north and the south.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Food Stories: Food and Culture

A quick reminder of a site that I mentioned 6 months ago now: FOOD STORIES.

This is a site that I am preparing to use with groups in the next week or so...

One aspect of a country or a region that defines it is its FOOD.
This can be explored thanks to a new interactive site at the British Library site called FOOD STORIES.You'll need FLASH 8 to explore this site in full.

The site was put together in association with another, more involved, project called CULTURES OF CONSUMPTION (which has a nice barcode logo...) and is produced in association with Birkbeck College, University of London.

There's a very useful report on 4 and a half lessons learnt HERE (PDF download) and you can also download summaries of some of the RESEARCH PROJECTS.
There are also TEACHERS' NOTES, CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES and an INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS' NOTEBOOK to help students investigate the site.

There are useful short reports on a huge range of food related topics including:

* Chinese Restaurants and their impact on 1950s life
* Someone eating Indian food for the first time in the 1960s
* the politics of Caribbean food
* eating spaghetti for the first time

The site also looks at the rituals of food, school dinners and the impact of changing technology.
Also involved in the project was Peter Jackson from University of Sheffield, who is another person closely associated with consumption patterns. The FOOD STORIES site grew up out of a project to explore the PRODUCTION CHAIN.

I recommend the NOTEBOOK. This has some very useful approaches to how to use the site.