Friday, March 21, 2008

SAGT 2008

Just been invited to speak at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers (SAGT) Conference at the Edinburgh Academy in October. This will be my 4th consecutive year at the conference, having earlier presented sessions on digital learning resources, Google Earth, Blogs, Podcasting and Nings.
Here is the draft title for the session:

Perhaps see some of you there. I'll post the details of how to register when they come out later in the year. It's always a super conference !

Been thinking more about my presentation, and will look at the use of the media in the classroom: TV, film, advertising etc. as well as social media, and Ollie Bray has got me thinking about using comic strips and other similar media as resources...
Lots of possible areas, but it needs some sort of cohesion.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Multicultural Britain or Bland Britain ?

Here's what looks like a useful book for this section....Called "Real England" by Paul Kingsnorth, it's on my TO BUY list...

Here's the description:

We see the signs around us every day: the chain cafes and mobile phone outlets that dominate our high streets; the disappearance of knobbly carrots from our supermarket shelves; and, the headlines about yet another traditional industry going to the wall. For the first time, here is a book that makes the connection between these isolated, incremental, local changes and the bigger picture of a nation whose identity is being eroded. As he travels around the country meeting farmers, fishermen, and the inhabitants of Chinatown, Paul Kingsnorth will refract the kind of conversations that are taking place in country pubs and corner shops across the land - while reminding us that these quintessentially English institutions may soon cease to exist.

There is also a REAL ENGLAND blog, and you can read Paul's JOURNALISM and other writings on his website.

Has links to a number of relevant sites for us such as:

English Parliament Petition
Here's a section which shows the relevance for our CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY unit. It was taken from a short extract in the Daily Mail a few days ago:

I discovered that the country I love is disappearing, its culture and character being wiped out.

Those in favour of globalisation argue it is a good thing for us to cast off our narrow, parochial past. Our communities are no longer geographical, they say, but communities of interest. Barriers are broken down by mass media and technology. Rootless, we gain freedom. Placeless, we belong everywhere.

This is nonsense. Placelessness and rootlessness do not create contentment, but despair.

Ask a tribal family whose land has been stolen for a logging concession. Ask an alienated 20-something working in a call centre in any of the world's mega-cities. Ask a pensioner who no longer understands the country she lives in.

All around us, we can see the steamroller flattening out our lives. This street market is closing down, that corner shop disappearing. People feel something is wrong, but they just don't know how to stop it.

They moan to each other in pubs and write letters to local newspapers. But if they bother to complain, they are fobbed off. It is patronisingly explained to them that these are small, insignificant local matters, of no import in the grand scheme of things.

They must think about wider issues such as economic growth or the War on Terror. If they persist, they are called "Luddites" or "nimbys".

The subtext is that no-one has the right to defend the place where they belong. We should have better things to do with our time.

Well, I believe there are few better things to do. This matters — a lot.

And, though it's unfashionable to say so in polite company, I've realised that it is England rather than that political construct, Britain, that matters to me.

Not because I'm a jingoist who think it's better than everywhere else. Not because I don't like foreigners or have a visceral desperation to win the World Cup. Simply because it is my country, the place I was born and grew up in and where I belong.

I know its landscapes and history and feel connected to both. I couldn't write about Scotland or Wales in the same way, because I am not part of them and they are not part of me. For better or for worse, I am English.

But we are a confused people these days. Recently, a Scottish nationalist was telling me how successful the Scots have been in creating a renewed sense of national identity since devolution.

It puzzled him, he said, that the English couldn't do the same. "Why can't the English talk about their identity or culture?" he asked.

I didn't know what to say, because I don't understand it either. The English, perhaps uniquely among European nations, are becoming almost a de-cultured people.

From our high street shops to the vocabulary we use, we are becoming a cheap and nasty imitation of the worst of consumer U.S.

We have lost sight of who we are and where we have come from. We can't sing our own folk songs or, increasingly, cook our own national foods. We sneer at morris dancers while we sip our skinny lattes.

The English — or the intellectual classes, at any rate — have long been renowned for this kind of rootless shoulder shrugging. George Orwell was railing against it 60 years ago. Taking "their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow", he wrote, the average Left-wing intellectual "has always felt there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings".

Not much has changed (though suet puddings are making a comeback in gastropubs). Mention Englishness to intellectuals today and you can still count the seconds before they start on the horrors of Britain's imperial past.

They are much happier hymning the virtues of ethnic minority communities — communities that, ironically, draw strength from their strong sense of cultural identity.

Discussions — let alone, God forbid, celebrations — of English identity are regarded with immediate suspicion, while those of virtually any other community on Earth (except the U.S.) are welcomed as positive displays of ethnic diversity.

"Multiculturalism" often seems to involve the celebration of every culture in Britain except the largest one — English culture.

This self-denial has had two dangerous consequences. One is that the Far Right has been able to colonise Englishness, conflate it with whiteness and make us all even more nervous about discussing it.

The other is that the door has been left wide open for what remains of the English landscape, both physical and cultural, to be trampled over. If we don't know what England is, or what made us, or what we value, then we don't know what to protect.



Read it and ADD A COMMENT BELOW so that I know that you have !

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Our World Film Festival

Geography Film Festival Our World Festival

Go to the GA website for details of the festival, which takes place on the day before the GA Conference 'proper' starts. It's worth starting your conference early to take in the conference.

The GA site has details of the films that are going to be shown. Each session costs just £3 !

And of course, you need to CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS !
Support the FESTIVAL.
See you there !

Monday, March 10, 2008

Global Culture Blog

Came across this today, as some students were exploring the idea of a Global Culture.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gary Gygax RIP

Sorry to hear of the death of E Gary Gygax: co-creator of D&D
Spent a lot of time in my teenage years rolling the polyhedral dice behind a cardboard screen printed with all the dice tables and saving throw values. Still remember some classic moments. We always keep saying "once more for old times sake...."
The world of computer games owes him a lot. A cheap way to pass an evening when you were a student too...
Got the rules pictured in the BBC article somewhere in the loft...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Who do we think we are

Alerted to this via an RGS-IBG newsletter.
A new website which explores issues of identity, diversity and citizenship. Familiar themes to Pilot GCSE Geographers !!

Who do we think we are? (WDWTWA)

Is a new, DCSF-funded education project designed to engage primary and secondary school teachers in the exploration of identity, diversity and citizenship with their pupils - in their schools, local communities and nationally. The project is a direct response to the recent Curriculum Review on Diversity and Citizenship, undertaken by Sir Keith Ajegbo, which recommended that all schools participate in a high profile, national event - titled Who do we think we are? Week - where the main activities would be

"…investigations and celebrations by schools of pupils’ histories and their community’s roots and of the national and global links that they can make.”

A new consortium of partners has been set up to help support the delivery of Who do we think we are? week - led by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the Historical Association and citizenship consultant Paula Kitching.

Key areas of work include:

The design and launch of a new website - structured around four WDWTWA themes:

  • School and community
  • Relationships, belonging and faith
  • History and settlement
  • 'Britishness’, national identity/values and the 2012 Games
  • The creation of an online database and ‘Ideas Hub’ – signposting existing resources and support for the learning and teaching of identity, diversity and community
  • Curriculum Development Programmes to support targeted work with schools and young people in four local authorities: Barking & Dagenham, Bradford, Bristol and Cheshire
  • The development and promotion of the national, week-long WDWTWA activities programme (23rd-28th June 2008) - during which schools will be encouraged to collapse timetables and explore identity and diversity as cross-curricular concepts - through subject 'join up', extensive on-site enrichment activities and off-site visits to museums, archives and community-based projects, etc.

Check out the website: more to come at the end of March 2008

One to watch...