Monday, July 26, 2010

Song lyrics in geography

One of the most useful additions to my daily routines over the last year has been SPOTIFY.

Each day that I work from home, I choose an artist from my old LP collection - mostly sadly in landfill now...
Yesterday was Joni Mitchell day, starting with the 1980s when she made some classic albums with then-husband Larry Klein and various jazz musicians. Sadly, the classic "Shadows and Light" with Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays and Jaco Pastorius isn't in the Spotify catalogue...

I had a chance to listen to the album she made with the Starbucks record label in 2007, and came across the track "This Place".

Song lyrics are part of the range of texts that geography students could use in the classroom.

Here are a few lines from the song: search online to find the rest....
How could you use this song ?

You see those lovely hills
They won't be there for long
They're gonna tear 'em down
And sell them to California
Here come the toxic spills
Miners poking all around
When this place looks like a moonscape
Don't say I didn't warn ya...

Copyright 2007: Crazy Crow Music

How have you used song lyrics in the classroom ?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Invention of Geography

I have said before (and also used it as part of my Chartered Geographer update evidence last year) my job is like having 365 days of CPD a year...

I learn things every day from the people I work with, and who get in touch with us. When I'm being asked questions all the time, or asked to present a session on something that I need to be authoritative about, it's a challenge. This requires a lot of reading, and an attempt to keep on top of a huge amount of new thinking on curriculum and pedagogy.

Here is a piece of imaginative writing by my colleague Ben Major, who works on our website, and other projects. It imagines a world where geography had not been "invented"...

The Invention of Geography

Let us know what you think of Ben's piece...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sounds of Sheffield

Have been following up something from earlier today about the sounds of Sheffield....

Steel, Peach and Tozers (or Steelos) as everyone called it, was the place where my dad started work in the mid 1950s...

He was a draughtsman before moving into engineering role, and moved to a number of other mills, including Hatfields (now Meadowhall) before finishing at Aldwarke Works, Parkgate almost 50 years later...

I remember doing a photography project on the area between Rotherham and Sheffield and its dereliction in the late 1980s, after the earlier industrial development, with its attendant environmental implications.

Came across an album called THE SONG OF STEEL. Listen to the album on SPOTIFY if you have access to this...

One of the things that also features on the disc is the mention of "beer notes". My dad used to be one of the people who handed out beer notes which could be exchanged at the Temple pub just outside the foundry (which is now a museum called Magna, and also a training centre where I've presented several times...)

BBC Radio Ballads is a sound portrait, complete with songs from artists including the wonderful timbre of Kate Rusby.
There are loads of interviews with people who remember what life was like back then.

This is a wonderful sound portait of a place, and a lost industrial landscape....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Brown signs...

There are apparently 93 different brown signs as shown on maps and roadsigns. They denote locations which are of tourist interest. I know this because I've been following the Brown Sign Way...

AMANDA HONE's BROWN SIGN BLOG is going to document visits to as many Brown sign locations as possible.

Why not explore the BROWN SIGNS in your local area - once you start noticing them, you'll find them everywhere (although I might have an advantage living in a tourist area of Norfolk...)

In the village where I used to live there was an interesting labelling. The brown sign used the generic "FARM PARK" to point to the attraction, which was actually called "PARK FARM": some locals assumed the sign had been made with the words the wrong way round...

One of my nearest brown signs.... picture by Alan Parkinson

Follow Amanda's progress on TWITTER and check out the blog.

Brown signs are very much part of the cultural landscape of the UK... They point the way to the everyday and the esoteric: the flower gardens, lighthouses and tea rooms of Britain...
Follow a brown sign today !

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CPD Survey from the GA

The GA is carrying out a CPD survey with regard to its CPD offerings for next year.
Please go along and spare a couple of minutes of your time to let us shape our courses and other materials for the year ahead. What are your priorities ? What do you want from us ?

Be careful what you wish for, you could end up spending the day with me...

I look forward to a whole range of new venues and events for 2010-11 !

Possibly some Cultural Geography CPD ?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dad's gone to Iceland....

New life pushing up through the ash deposits from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano: image by Val Vannet, taken last week

After many years of waiting, it seems like I will finally be going to Iceland later this year.
I will be accompanying teachers on an inspection visit to Iceland in October 2010.

The visit is organised by the Brighton based company TRAVELBOUND

Download an itinerary HERE (PDF download) and I might have the chance to spend a few days with you exploring and curriculum making...
Some of the places that are here are on the lists of places that must be seen when visiting Iceland...
  • Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik
  • Hekla
  • Solheimajokull Glacier trek
  • Kerid Crater and Thingvellir National Park
  • Reykjavik
  • Geysirs and waterfalls
  • Hellishollar
Why not request a copy of the brochure, or visit the Travelbound website to find out more.
If you'd like to come on the inspection visit, the price is £199, and you will need to do the following:

Contact James Walker on: 01273 265 266 for details.

I will be blogging the whole process of preparing for the visit, as well as creating an online home for a range of curriculum making resources. One outcome will be a unit for KS3 with the title (N)ICELAND ICELAND....
Currently exploring the workings of WORDPRESS to create the new blog, which is now available to view (although there's not much there yet) at (N)ICELAND ICELAND.

If you have been to Iceland and would like to contribute to the new blog in any way, please get in touch.
Special thanks to Val Vannet for the use of her excellent images....

Will be interesting to explore the cultural aspects of the trip as well as the obvious physical geographical ones...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Games Based Geography

I have been exposed to quite a lot of Games Based Learning research and ideas over the years, because of the work of Derek Robertson, Ollie Bray and others...

I have just listened to a podcast from the VerySpatial archive (although at the time of writing it's the most recent podcast.

The feature on Games Based Learning (GBL) began with a quote from the New York Times article linked to here.
There was a quote from Dan Houser, who is the creative leader of Rockstar Games, who produced the new game "Red Dead Redemption".
“Westerns are about place,” he said. “They’re not called outlaw films. They’re not even called cowboys-and-Indians films. They’re called westerns. They’re about geography.”

“We’re talking about a format that is inherently geographical,” Mr. Houser added, “and you’re talking about a medium, video games, the one thing they do unquestionably better than other mediums is represent geography.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Urban Stories new on the GA website

Urban Earth is a project developed by Dan Raven Ellison.
I have blogged about it on numerous occasions before as a way for young people to re-present the urban spaces that they inhabit.

Ben Major has put together a great resource called URBAN STORIES on the GA website.

This suggests some additional ideas for using Dan's original URBAN EARTH walks and images....

Augmented Reality

Taken to extremes by Keiichi Matsuda

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Thanks to @flowingdata and @geoplace via Twitter...

New avatar

Created a new avatar today thanks to the official Mad Men site.
Great to hear that Season 4 of "the best thing on telly" kicks off in the US later this month...

New avatar can be seen on Twitter...

Garrison Keillor on Oil

Garrison Keillor has featured in this blog before in connection with Lake Wobegon. I love his writing, and the updates that he delivers as part of the Prairie Home Companion show.

He has also recently written a very useful piece giving his thoughts on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, published in the Chicago Tribune, amongst other places.
It starts with some very 'geographical' meditations:

Aboard a Delta Airbus at 37,000 feet maneuvering around giant thunderheads, connected to the Internet via satellite, looking at dark gloop a mile below the sea, contemplating the death of a beautiful body of water, unable to think of a single sensible thing to do or say about this that would make a milligram of difference, and yet here I sit with a clear view of the situation, like a passenger in a car skidding slowly into the median.

Years ago, in some crowded gymnasium, a commencement speaker told us that we should pursue our education because Knowledge leads to Power to Effect Change, but I don't see it in this case. I'm flying in a jet airliner consuming oil as I observe a disaster caused by the demand for oil, mine, yours, theirs — and yes, there was gross corporate irresponsibility, zero government regulation, rank corruption in the Minerals Management Service, but growing demand (drill, baby) is what's pushing us toward the next disaster and the next and the next.

Well worth reading the whole piece, and also exploring more of Keillor's work if you're not familiar with it....

Friday, July 2, 2010


Postcode Portraits was a website I came across via a blog called the Daily Geographer.

The website takes a look at the idea of GEODEMOGRAPHICS, and the work of MOSAIC

A handy link from the site goes to a clip from the recent History of the Noughties programme...

There is loads of geography here with respect to the depiction of levels of income and relative inequalities...

Led me to the LANDSCAPE:PORTRAIT site (nice name :) )

Why not use a site like UP MY STREET to find out which ACORN type your neighbourhood, or the area around the school is, and then enquire into the accuracy of the description.

The area I live in is Type 34.....

Back from Glastonbury

Well, what a cultural geographical experience that was...
Below is a slideshow of a selection of my images from the festival as seen on FLICKR.

Psychogeography by the sea....

An interesting exchange on Twitter a couple of weeks ago...
Led me to some nice work on Hunstanton.
It's the work of Tina Richardson, who is a Cultural Studies PhD student at the University of Leeds. She has been exploring areas of Hunstanton. They are mapped using techniques that relate to the idea of "Psychogeography"....

ARCADES PROMENADES is one of the outcomes of Tina's work.

Don't forget my earlier early-morning virtual tour of Hunstanton that I did 2 years ago.

Plenty here on the culture of the seaside.
Also looking forward to reading a book out later this month by Travis Elborough called "Wish you were Here"....