Sunday, December 10, 2017

#TheDarkisReading

This is starting in just over a week's time...
I shall be taking part.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

TMGeographyIcons

For the last couple of years, there has been a teacher-led CPD event called Teachmeet HistoryIcons. It was developed by a group of history teachers, and runs very successfully with some sponsorship and support from companies and individuals, which mean the event is free to delegates. The next event is taking place in March 2018.

A group of geography teachers has been working on developing a Geography-related event which, with the backing of our History colleagues has now been organised by a rather fine group of  teachers, with a similar logo, and which will be hosted by the lovely folks at the University of Birmingham.
It will take place in June 2018.

You can sign up to join the Waiting List for a ticket from the Eventbrite page.
Tickets are FREE, but SOLD OUT.

The event has a keynote from a teacher and an academic, although Teachmeets don't traditionally have a keynote, this one does... and for some reason the very lovely and generous Mrs. Humanities, who is on the organising team, asked me to do the teacher highlight talk, and I was delighted to say yes.... There have been some very kind comments on Twitter as a result of this news going out yesterday...






To follow the developments as the event gets closer, particularly any possibility of further tickets, you'd be best to follow @TMGeogIcons on Twitter.
And of course you can follow me. There has been a flurry of new followers over the last 24 hours.

I look forward to seeing some of you in June. I'm starting to think about how I can make my talk memorable, useful and profoundly geographical... I've got a few ideas...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

#125geotips to come...

As a member of the Geographical Association's Secondary Phase Committee for the last 13 years (with a short break while I worked for the GA), I've presented many times at the GA Conference since, and also been involved in national curriculum change discussions, awarding body consultations for new GCSEs, consultative groups, book reviewing and many other contributions to the work of the GA.
Follow us on Twitter too please @GA_SPC

This year we are tweeting out 125 Top Tips.
We've produced a series of Top Tips before, and you can access or download them all from our SPC page on the GA website.

Here's the Advent Calendar that I put together to get the project off to a good start too...
Keep following for the next 125 days, which are also a countdown (or count up) to the GA Conference in Sheffield.
2018 marks the 125th anniversary of the GA, hence the 125 tips

Follow us on #125geotips and please feel free to send us any suggestions of your own to get involved in the project please. We'll happily RT your own geographical toptips with the hashtag...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Whatever happened to me...

Although I'd never been to Newcastle when I was in my teens, I knew about it, and the areas that had been cleared for new development, and the working class life which was giving way to those who were 'improving their lives', the growth in home ownership, urban redevelopment and other issues.
This was via the lives of Bob and Terry, and Bob's fiancee Thelma, and Bob's sister Audrey.

I 'knew' about Newcastle via 'Whatever happened to the Likely Lads'...

These are some of the most memorable characters and episodes of TV comedy that have been broadcast. Remember Bob and Terry trying to avoid Brian Glover telling them the result of the England match, the Fancy Dress party and Bob in the dock for fighting.

Sad news from a few days ago with the death of Rodney Bewes.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Lost ice and lost meaning

A New York Times article which has a relevance for the work I am doing on Polar regions at the moment, but also a tremendous resonance about the connection between people and ice.
I will be adding this to some articles from the 'Earth' magazine, which explore the changing lives of Inuit hunters, and the changing landscapes they now need to navigate.

“Inuit are people of the sea ice. If there is no more sea ice, how can we be people of the sea ice?”

Friday, November 17, 2017

Landscapes of Detectorists

Detectorists is one of the best things that has been on the telly over the last few years.
Now there is an opportunity to prepare a paper connected with it for the RGS-IBG Annual Conference in 2018.

The focus is on Landscapes, and there is no shortage of recent reading I've done that would connect with that, such as David Matless's book 'Landscape and Englishness' and recent work by Rebecca Solnit and Lauret Savoy.

I'm almost tempted to put something together as a contribution, but haven't much experience in academic conferences, other than the GTE.

The conference strand is described as follows by Innes Keighren:

Where “Detectorists” is distinct from most situation comedies is that much of the action takes place outdoors, in the fields and meadows where the programme’s protagonists pursue their hobby. Both aesthetically and thematically, landscape dominates “Detectorists”. Filmed on location in Framlingham, Suffolk—standing in for Essex, and the fictional town of Danebury—the visual palate of the programme enfolds a non-human supporting cast of insects, birds, plants, and trees, and variously echoes the landscape paintings of Thomas Gainsborough and George Shaw, and the cinematic vision of Peter Hall’s “Akenfield” (1974). 
Landscape is, also, the focus of the protagonists’ preoccupations; it is variously walked, surveyed, sensed, gazed upon, read, and dug. 
Landscape is where the programme’s characters seek solitude, find companionship, and navigate the sometimes dramatic intrusions from ‘the rude world’. 
Landscape reveals the past while concealing the prospect of future discovery.

ECM - new on Spotify

There are a few notable omissions from Spotify - some like Pink Floyd have been resolved, but Peter Gabriel and King Crimson are among the bands who I would like to see added.

Earlier this week, I heard that one of the major gaps in the catalogue had been filled with the release of the recordings on the ECM label. I've been collecting albums on this label since the early 1980s...
This means we now have access to the catalogue of artists such as Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett, Ale Moller and Lena Willemark, John Surman and a host of other musicians.

I now have plenty more musical inspiration to draw on....

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Icebreaker - a great book...

Currently devouring the latest book by Horatio Clare.
His last book 'Down to the Sea in Ships' was on the lives of sailors crewing container ships, and was excellent.
This book grabs you from the start, with tales of Finland, and the ice in the Bay of Bothnia. It's very nicely written, with beautiful descriptions of the icy seascapes and landscapes, mixed with the signs of climate change that are becoming increasingly apparent.

There's one obvious omission from the book: a decent map showing all the locations described so that you can get a sense for how they relate to each other, and the relative positions and distances involved.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Robot Unicorns - the perfect Christmas gift

New in at my fellow Mission:Explorer Helen's Do it Kits store is a new kit to allow you to make a robot unicorn - perfect for using a micro:bit which were distributed to UK students a year or so ago - I have one too - and these are used to control and move the finished unicorn.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Follow Leo Houlding's latest adventure...

“It’s 21st-century exploration, at the edge of impossible.”
An excellent article in The Financial Times on the latest expedition of Leo Houlding.
He is planning to conquer a peak called the Spectre.
A few years ago, I heard Leo speak at the GA Conference on a previous expedition to Antarctica, and the logistics of getting there and completing the climb.
My notes and some links from that 2015 lecture are here. 

He will be using Union Glacier as a base: a location which I have used many times before with students as a place to teach about.

The expedition website is here.
Good luck to Leo when he heads off next month...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Planetary boundaries

Interesting... the full paper isn't open access, but some ideas explored here...

Geddy Lee Interview

Rush are a band I've been listening to for over 35 years...
This is a powerful section from an interview which is being aired this week in the US...


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Island Story

Writer J D Taylor spent four months on a bike a few years ago, travelling around Britain and seeing it in a way that many other travel writers have failed to do. The value of cycling is that you see the world at a slower pace, and are actually in the environments you are travelling through.
The author has created a very useful blog to follow the journey, and includes a whole range of additional resources and ideas that underpin the journey including some additional writing.

You can follow the journey with images and text from each stage of the journey.
The book is fantastic to, and I've just been reading it.
A part of this journey was a search for the UK's identity as the Brexit vote approached.


This is excellent for older students exploring such ideas as Changing Places, and also the GCSE unit on UK in the 21st Century.

There is a New Statesmen article here by the author, which identifies some of the themes in the book, which is certainly political in its nature.
I was also interested to read on the blog about his next book, helped by a grant he has been awarded, which will also explore the idea of place:

Titled Where Are We Going?, the next book takes the form of eleven narratives about a specific place and the people I meet, through which I document the effects of forces shaping British politics, from health and social care to deindustrialisation, the ‘gig economy’, farming and rural poverty, to immigration, class, identity and housing. I’ve begun preparing the book this year...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Monopoly Money...

Alexandra Sims has written in Time Out about the growing property values in London, and how they have risen.

In the 1930s, the makers of Monopoly placed 22 iconic London streets on their game board for wannabe property tycoons. Eighty years on, however, the price you’d pay in Monopoly money to own a slice of the capital hardly reflects the twenty-first-century reality.
Giving the game a 2017 reality check, London Fox Lettings has used data from Zoopla and the Government’s London Rents Map to show what you’d be paying IRL to rent and own property on the classic game’s streets. To give things an added flavour of authenticity they’ve even replaced the £200 you get for passing 'go', with the £27,531 average London salary, which is growing at a snail’s pace compared to rapidly rising house prices.

Here's the infographic....


What Would The Monopoly Board Look Like Today? – An infographic by the team at Splitrent

Allemansrätten

This is a beautiful film by Al Humphreys who has produced a range of videos and books related to the theme of exploration.

It explores the idea of access to land, which in some Scandinavian countries is a 'right' open to all men (and women). They have free access to land and can camp or walk across it.

“Don’t disturb – Don’t destroy" is the mantra here.

In the UK, there was recently an expansion of the right of access to include CROW land (Countryside Right of Way)

Allemansrätten from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.

Allemansrätten is the right, in much of Scandinavia, for every man and woman to roam the countryside.
But with rights must come responsibilities too.
Should there be an expansion of this type of rights in the UK?

I met Al quite a few years ago now, when he was keynoting the SAGT conference that I was also speaking at, up in Glasgow.

I took advantage of this some years ago, when camping in Norway for several weeks and travelling up the coast with a friend.
In Finland, which I've also visited they have a similar right.

The worry would be that people might be happy to accept their right, but not their responsibilities?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Richard Long exhibition

Heading to see this at the weekend - it's just 10 minutes from home... I've loved Richard's work for decades now, and seen all his recent exhibitions...

RICHARD LONG: EARTH SKY from NUA Film and Moving Image on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Time for Geography

Time for a new school year. Time for Geography.
There are plenty of high quality resources available here at the very nicely designed Time for Geography site.

Sign up and log in to help access a whole range of videos, many of which were shot over the summer holiday period, so they are right up to date, and written and presented by subject experts.

There are videos on Coasts, Rivers and Glaciation as well as Geog Topics, and some additional resources for those who register too. There are posters for display which can be ordered, plus additional resources and links, and a blog which is underway with some useful posts. Model answers are also provided for some relevant questions. This is a site which has been developed with the support of various organisations, and will continue to grow.

I shall be directing my Year 10s to this site as we start the new school year and GCSE teaching.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Reading Geography

"beyond the rigidity of a GCSE exam syllabus, geography is perhaps more than anything else about reading"

The University of Cambridge's Geographical Society (CUGS) has a magazine, and there's a great article in the latest Compass by Chloe Rixon which explores her thoughts on the importance of reading as a geographer....

Worth browsing the issues (on ISSUU) for other articles.

As Chloe says in her piece, reflecting on her interview when she mentioned Michael Palin as somebody she'd read...

What I didn’t realise then, and I think I’m only really starting to realise now, is that, disbanding the academic corset of particular intellectual rigour or qualification, most (every?) writer is in their own respect a geographer. They’re writing about the earth: translating it, interpreting it, constructing it. By extension and implication, therefore, reading too is geographical. Palin may not be a ‘serious’ geographer (whatever that is), nor may be Austen or Plato, but, like Foucault and Said, he is fundamentally writing about the earth (be it through the lens of travel-writing) and hence, reading his work is a geographical exercise.

As Robert MacFarlane has said, "every hour spent reading is an hour spent learning to write"

So keep reading...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

150 years of the Shipping Forecast

There have now been 150 years of the Shipping Forecast. I still catch it occasionally if leaving early to drive somewhere...
Here's a lovely animation of it.

Rio Grande

Songs about rivers? This is one of the best...
A new variation on the original from David Bedford / Mike Oldfield....

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Support Helen for SXSW

I've worked with Helen Leigh Steer for many years now.
She's the genius designer who puts together our Mission:Explore books, and I've also worked with her on the distance project with INTEL, and as the Geography author for the growing work of Do it Kits. There are other smaller projects we've worked on too...
Latterly, she's become a rising star of the maker education community, and created a number of kits which allow students to explore the Science of Music...
Helen has submitted a workshop proposal to SWSX Education event, and would appreciate your support. You'll need to create an account before voting up Helen's proposal I've just done this, and the whole process only took a couple of minutes... Thanks in advance...


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Iceman Movie

A new movie reimagining the last days of Ötzi is opening next week with its premiere.

I wrote a book about him a few years ago, called 'The Ice Man', which is still available to buy.
The film is described as follows: 

On August 8th at 9:30 pm the movie “Iceman” directed by Felix Randau will be presented to the world at the Locarno Festival. On the “Piazza Grande” the audience will follow closely the fictitious story about Ötzi’s last days and hours.

With Jürgen Vogel in the title role, the film speculates on what might have happened on the Tisenjoch some 5,300 years ago – when Ötzi the Iceman was murdered by an arrow striking him in the back. And above all, why? Director Felix Randau focuses in particular on bringing to life Ötzi’s last few days and the circumstances which could have led to his mysterious death.

Synopsis: 5,300 years ago in the Neolithic Age. An extended family is living peacefully beside a stream in the Öztal Alps. Their leader Kelab (Jürgen Vogel) has been charged with guarding the holy shrine.
Whilst Kelab is out hunting, his settlement is attacked and the entire tribe is murdered, including Kelab’s wife and son. The sacred shrine of the community is also taken away. Consumed by pain and anger, Kelab now has only one goal: revenge!
Kelab is now set on tracking down the perpetrators. During the course of his Odyssey through the mountains he is subjected to all the dangers of nature. A tragic error now makes him into the one that’s hunted. Finally Kelab has to confront not just those who murdered his family, but his own demons. Will he give way to his urge for revenge and thereby turn from victim to offender? Or will he succeed in breaking the eternal cycle of violence?


I hope that this makes it to the UK.
Here's the trailer:


The Great American Eclipse

I wonder whether anyone I know is heading to America to see this event...

A good swathe of the country will be heading to areas along a long strip of land stretching across the country, where they will be able to see a total eclipse on August the 21st...
It may well be the chance of a lifetime for many to see such an event.
There's a fantastic ESRI StoryMap made by Mike Zeiler of ESRI below, which tells you all you need to know about eclipses, and this one in particular...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

200 000 views

Thanks to everyone who's visited this blog over the years, and commented or sent me books to review, or inspired a post or two... I'll keep on blogging here as well as over on my main blog LivingGeography

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

This book has come into my social media feeds several times, and looks like it is worth exploring further... It's getting excellent reviews.
It has been written by Katherine Rundell, and is called "The Explorer". I will probably get a copy next week, and explore whether it has potential to feed into a unit on rainforests, also connected to the idea of survival, or as a reader.

It sounds like it connects with the books I've blogged about previously, and also written... 'Survivors" picture book, and my own "Extreme Survival"...

Here's the author talking about the inspiration for the story...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tra la laaaa!

OK, so I started off my summer holiday by going to the cinema with my son to see this film... and it's excellent...
Very inventive plotting and animation and I've got just one question #whomadeyourclothes
#followthethings

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Global reach of Premier League football teams

A Twitter interactive which promises to visualise the tweets which are sent by fans of different Premier League football teams (as they were when the visualisation was created). How global is your team, or compare two teams, or see which are the most popular. Change the scale and have a play. Useful for globalisation, or geography of sport type units. Made by Twitter.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Happy 30th Birthday to ERASMUS

Erasmus is 30 years old.

It's facilitated the meeting of millions of teachers and students from across Europe, and I've benefitted from it in many ways over the years. I first got involved with Erasmus through Karl Donert, the President of EuroGeo, and who has spent many years travelling Europe.
He asked me to take part in a project called digitalearth towards the end of my time with the Geographical Association. He was keen to get the GA to engage with this European network of teachers, and there was the first of a few opportunities to do that with this network. The digitalearth project has had a great legacy...

This took me to Salzburg, back in January 2011, for the first of many meetings and training courses. I found myself in a 3 day meeting with university professors, Headteachers and people with particular skillsets I'd not encountered before. It was a little scary, but also exciting, and we had some interesting cultural events as part of the meeting - a pattern that has been particularly important as my Erasmus participation has continued...


Image: Michaela Lindner-Fally

I've spent several months of my life since in various cities around Europe. I've worked at Salzburg University quite a few times, running courses with teachers from lots of different countries, learning from them as much as they learned from me.



Here's a picture from Simo Tolvanen, one of a large group of Finnish teachers I had the pleasure of working with at Z-GIS in Salzburg.
I've visited Stockholm - sailing there on a boat through the frozen Baltic and stopping in at Estonia en route. I've scaled snowy peaks, eaten fine foods, seen art and heard guggenmusic, baked in the heat of an Alentejan summer, swum in the Mediterranean, walked on a frozen lake, wandered unfamiliar cities in the early hours of the morning, and discovered a hidden bottle of Ardbeg whisky in the most unlikely of hotels. I've seen Romanian tower blocks, sung Finnish karaoke, navigated out of an underground car park in Ghent, and seen the Acropolis at sunset and two Olympics stadia...
I've been involved in 5 Erasmus Funded projects and a range of Erasmus funded courses... and several other failed bids for project funding...
I hope to be involved in a whole lot more adventures in the future....
My school is currently involved in an ERASMUS funded project called GI Learner 

I recommend you find out more about the scheme and try and get involved.. assuming UK partners will still be welcome after Brexit... 


In the upstairs room at Zum Eulenspiegel, Salzburg 

800th post

Just noticed this is the 800th post on this blog...
I've shared a whole range of cultural geography type stuff over the years. It's my take on that idea, which is quite broad. I hope you enjoy reading the ideas, and they've been helpful or interesting in some way.. I'll carry on the blog for a while yet I hope...

My latest reading is Brian Merchant's book on the development of the iPhone: the most successful consumer product of all time, and one which has become part of our daily life, and through which many access their culture, and determine their 'geography'...


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Teachmeet GeographyIcons

There has been a History edition of this event for a few years, and the Geographers have now decided that it may be a good format to adopt... Save the date, and follow the Twitter feed and hashtag for more information as time passes... Will be hosted at the University of Birmingham.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ice Flows Game - my current project

I've spent quite a bit of time over the last week or so working on a new resource to accompany the IceFlows Game which was developed by Anne Le Brocq of Exeter University.

Follow the Twitter feed @iceflowsgame to find out more...

The game is available online, and also as an app.

It is taking shape now, and should be completed by the end of the month and available for download.

The game models the processes going on in ice shelves and ice sheets, and there are plenty of associated resources that will form part of the pack, to help explore the implications of them melting away. With Larsen C close to breaking off to form a huge iceberg, this is an area that is likely to make the news in the coming days....

Why not take a look at the game in the next few weeks as an end of term activity

Update
Larsen C finally calved a huge iceberg yesterday, just as I was finishing the first draft of the resource pack.
There is a tool to measure just how big it actually is by comparing it to a map. Made by Christopher Möller, and can be viewed here. 
Here's the iceberg with Norfolk and Suffolk for scale - that's a big chunk of ice...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Meaningful Maps - exploring children's mapping

After the publication of the paper on VR in Education that I blogged about recently, there's a further project that we're involved with. In the last few weeks, students from several year groups have been involved with the Meaningful Maps project by drawing a map of a place that is important to them. These have been completed by some of my colleagues at Kings Ely Junior, and also King's Ely Acremont (thanks to Sarah Stevens for a big pile of maps)

The project is being organised by Stephen Scoffham, Peter Vujakovic and Paula Owens.
The website is now up and running, and it will develop as more maps come in during the pilot phase of the project which we are involved with.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer listening

The second album, out today, is by Public Service Broadcasting. It's a concept album (as all their albums are), and this time the focus is on the coal mining industry, particularly the Welsh one. It was recorded in the valleys, and there are several guests from Wales on the album. This is a very stylish production, with a real sensibility and sensitivity. The album notes explain decisions that were made about what to include, and what to leave out... Aberfan is respectfully left out, but noted in a list of colliery disasters which form part of the CD booklet, along with graphs of coal production. Social history is included in the form of extracts from publicity and recruitment films which talked of hundreds of years worth of coal left to mine... The mood darkens on 'All Out', and there is a wonderful romantic 'You+Me' before the album closes with the Beaufort Male Choir. A portion of the profits from sales will go to the South Wales Area Miners' Benevolent Fund.

You can stream it in the usual places or buy it from the usual places. There's a review here which gives you a real flavour of the strengths of the album. Superb music and landscape mingling....

Summer listening 2....

A couple of music posts coming up...

The first is this album, which is out soon, and has an awesome cover. It's a bit like early Fairport, psychedelia, folk-rock and wonderfully atmospheric... Check it out on early streaming (which won't be around forever if you're reading this blog post after early July 2017)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Blast from the past...

Not played this album for years... Bob Mould's dancy phase... Tag it, and make it yours...

Islands: a Radio 4 season

A series of programmes which are being played in a series on Island life. This is available to listen to again for a month or so, so if you're reading this after Summer 2017 you may not be able to hear some or all of them.
Thanks to the wonderful artist Ellis O' Connor for the tipoff to this on Twitter.
If you're interested in the idea of islands, then these will be well worth following. A list of some of the programmes is here.
I'm particularly interested in the sharing of some stories by George Mackay Brown, who is forever connected with the town of Stromness on Orkney.
Some will also be interested in a repeat of Bill Bryson's 'Notes from a Small Island', which is available in five episodes.

This connects with the work I am going to be doing over the summer with Peter Knight, funded by an Innovative Geography Teaching Grant. You will see our work on this developing on this website.

Image: Copyright BBC - used to publicise the Islands season - reminiscent of Roger Dean's Yes album covers...

Japanese Tsunami: and its ghosts...

This is coming in August. It looks really rather splendid, although the extract is harrowing and terrifying...
Read the extract from the London Review of Books.

There's also a programme on BBC Radio 4 that is well worth watching.


Around the World in 80 Days

A few days ago, Mark Beaumont visited the Reform Club. He was paying homage to Phileas Fogg: the hero of Jules Verne's 'Around the World in 80 Days'.
The reason was that after his earlier record breaking circumnavigation by bike, Mark headed off earlier today on an attempt to go around the world in 80 days.


I will be introducing the journey to our students tomorrow, so that they can hopefully follow the journey over the summer, and there will be some rewards for those who show some evidence of this on their return in September, by which time Mark will hopefully be well on his way... what an epic journey and physical and mental effort lies ahead of him...

To follow the journey, see Mark Beaumont on Facebook, or follow @MrMarkBeaumont on Twitter.

The main website for the journey is at Artemis World Cycle.
Here's the route:
Images: Copyright Mark Beaumont on Facebook/Twitter / The Guardian

For teachers wanting to introduce students to the journey, Mark has teamed up with Twinkl Resources, who have created a series of resources. These are a mixture of FREE and subscriber only, and are attractively presented and linked to some useful curriculum areas.

Mark is raising money for Orkid Studio.


Orkidstudio works to benefit communities through innovative architecture, construction and social enterprise.

We believe that creativity has the power to inspire and instil pride within people regardless of race, nationality or circumstance and we use architecture, design and enterprise as tools for relieving poverty and transforming lives.

Our build projects focus on the process of design and construction rather than just the final product. We believe this process is a powerful tool for affecting social change and empowering people through the sharing of skills and knowledge on site.

With a strong belief in the power of enterprise to affect social change, we work on projects and with partners that support and drive the local economy. We engage local resources and women in construction to create high quality built spaces that promote health, education and equality.

Mark's hoping to raise £10 for every mile that he cycles.

Monday, June 26, 2017

20 years of Harry Potter

Visit Britain has launched a new interactive map showing some of the locations of films, to mark the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book.

Latest statistics for 2017 show that there were a record 11.8 million overseas visits to the UK from January to April, up 11% on the same period in 2016. Overseas visitors spent £6.2 billion, up 14% and also setting a new record.
Latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings for international arrivals to the UK during the summer are currently tracking 12% ahead of the same period last year. 
Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions. 

Thanks to David Jarratt for the tipoff...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Inspirational Places: Changing Places

I've started work on one of my summer projects for this year.



It's working with Peter Knight from Keele University to 'translate' some of the ideas in an undergraduate geography module called 'Inspirational Landscapes' into a scheme of work for the teaching of the Changing Places module in the new 'A' level.
I co-wrote the Changing Places section in the Cambridge University Press textbook, along with Garrett Nagle and Claire Kyndt, and wanted to develop it a little further as textbooks are of course a little static. Claire has also since developed quite a lot of new ideas while teaching the topic, and we have also planned some fieldwork experiences, which have had to be adapted a little in light of recent events as it happens.
This will explore the interface between school and academic geography (which some people have criticised for the undue influence of academic interests on the new 'A' levels, which have not always been the most straightforward topics to research and teach for the first time)

The website where our materials will appear is now live.




It explains the project and, although there's not much there now, it will build up between now and Christmas - hopefully in time to help some colleagues before the first sitting of the exams in 2018....

Monday, June 19, 2017

RIP Brian Cant

For people of a certain age, this was a big chunk of our childhood: Brian's voice on Play School and Play Away, and narrating these classics of animation from Gordon Murray.
Another sad passing...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Royal Mail Stamp Issue

An August issue will showcase classic children's toys... cultural geography / social history writ large... or small...

Italian Fieldwork Opportunity

Via Paul Baker


Grenfell Tower

This is a hard topic to write about, but an important one. 

Around ten years ago, Dan Ellison and myself put together a bid for the Royal Geographical Society's 'Going Beyond' Land Rover travel bursary which involves a Land Rover and some cash. Sadly, we were not successful, although a future winner of that grant was Felicity Aston's Pole of Cold trip, which I connected with. The idea we had back then, was of turning the vehicle into what we called our 'space'ship, and we were going to arrive at various locations where we would meet up with prominent geographers and groups of school children, and be guided by them as to the geographies of their place. One of the geographers who'd agreed to meet us was Danny Dorling, who was at the University of Sheffield back then.

Danny was going to meet us in Sheffield and take us on a short journey, which would take about 15 minutes, but which would take us from one place to another whose residents had a life expectancy that was 15 years shorter at the time. Geography matters in these instances. The Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, like any urban area of comparable size, is not homogeneous. There are differences within it.
Danny's '32 Stops' picks up that metaphor for a tube line running across London. Lives on the Line visualises this.

On Wednesday morning, we woke to the terrifying images of the fire overtaking the Grenfell Tower block in North Kensington. Through the days since, there have been many hours of news coverage, and there has also been a growing anger that this was an avoidable event, and that warnings apparently weren't listened to. There were also some longer-term political allegations relating to fire safety reports, and the reduction in funding to the London Fire Service (and other public and emergency services generally). Several London Fire Stations were closed in 2014 due to funding cuts, for example. At the time of writing, there are growing protests, and the building remains too unsafe for the next stage of the investigation and recovery process to begin. Local tube stations are closed for fear of falling debris, and firefighters at one stage thought the tower might collapse.

Nesrine Malik connected the tragedy with the way that migrants are treated.

The first victim named was a Syrian refugee, Mohammed al-Haj Ali. The list is now extending into a roll call of the marginalised, the maligned and the disenfranchised.

Lynsey Hanley, whose book 'Estates' I have blogged about quite a few times over the years as an important contribution to the discussions on housing was very clear about the link with inequality too. In her piece she also mentions Danny's data in this area, as well as highlighting the potential benefits when these developments 'work':

The geographer Danny Dorling has shown that black and minority ethnic people in social housing are disproportionately housed in flats, to the extent that, in his words, ‘the majority of children who live above the fourth floor of tower blocks, in England, are black or Asian.’ This is not to do with a shortage of housing, but is a reflection of the fact that not only are ethnic minorities more likely to be working-class by wage and occupation, but they experience discrimination – tacit or outright – when allocated housing.


Here's a story about a disabled mum and her son housed high up in the block... should they have been housed in such a place?

Danny Dorling has written on both inequality and housing, and his recent books have explored the idea that inequality is the biggest threat of all. His re-issued book, Injustice, has an important premise.

Beveridge’s five social evils are being replaced by five new tenets of injustice: elitism is efficient; exclusion is necessary; prejudice is natural; greed is good and despair is inevitable. By showing these beliefs are unfounded, Dorling offers hope of a more equal society. We are living in the most remarkable and dangerous times. With every year that passes it is more evident that Injustice is essential reading for anyone concerned with social justice and wants to do something about it.

There are plenty of luxury high rise blocks of course. Urgent efforts are now being made to assess the fire safety of all similar dwellings, one would imagine. A political cartoon in the Guardian, also today includes an image of these luxury developments which have sprouted up throughout London over the last decade, some of them controversial in the way that they have been funded or occupied.

There have been a great many images and political cartoons shared online which, taken with other information and stories are important ideas for students to be introduced to. There is also an aspect here which connects with teaching we do on the nature of risk, and the hazard risk equation. Are the sums working out differently if one considers the richer, and poorer, when it comes to housing safety?

A final story relating to the geography of the tragedy returns us back to the story of a journey between unequal places. The Guardian's Esther Addley followed the road that leads from the Westway, south to Royal Crescent Gardens. It seems that nothing much has changed in those 10 years since our idea.

The Illustreets app gives the area around Grenfell Tower a deprivation of between 7 and 9 out of 100 (0 being the worst), whereas less than a kilometre to the south takes you into areas scoring in the 70s... (100 being the best). Perhaps, as Simon Jenkins writes, it is time to stop building residential blocks, especially as one report said that no fire appliance in the UK could have reached the top floors. It reminds me of some of the book 'Vertical' that I read earlier in the year, and talked about at the time. In his book, Stephen Graham argues that it is the rich who segregate themselves by living higher...


I'm grateful to Brendan Conway for contacting me, and prompting me to think about this issue, and say something about it here.
He reminded me of the important role that schools play following such an event.  
Schools are doing amazing resilient work in the vicinity of Grenfell Tower to support students, their families and other schools.

The closest school to Grenfell is Kensington Aldridge Academy which is closed and currently hosted by Burlington Danes Academy and Latymer Upper School http://www.kensingtonaldridgeacademy.co.uk/

It can be seen on one of the first pictures on this page - see just how close the school is to the tower. 


Among the various initiatives started up, one is called #GreenForGrenfell in West London schools, but other schools might want to show support in a similar way https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/schools-asked-wear-greenforgrenfell

Brendan shared just a couple of examples from schools he has worked with in that area:
One of them, Sion Manning http://www.sion-manning.com/sion-manning-hosts-st-francis-of-assisi-catholic-primary-school/ is itself deeply affected and they are now hosting St Francis of Assisi primary school (about 200 m from Grenfell Tower, so it's had to close temporarily) http://www.franassisi.rbkc.sch.uk/).  
Another, Holland Park School, appears to have very sad losses from their community and have also been providing magnificent support since the early hours of the disaster:


I know that other schools in the area will be doing all sorts of great things to help and support.  I just thought that this tremendous effort should be acknowledged.

Thanks to Brendan for sharing these stories, and I am pleased to be able to share them here. My utmost admiration goes to all those who are helping the residents and their families in whatever shape that takes.
I hope this post may have been helpful in some way.

If you want to help the residents of Grenfell Tower, there are several ways that you can do that.
The British Red Cross has launched the London Fire Relief fund, which is taking donations. 

First posted on LivingGeography on Saturday 17th June

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ways to see Great Britain

I'm always interested in the ways that places are presented and represented. This is all part of the idea of Geography offering 'a different view' or lens to see the world in a particular way.

Alice Stevenson's new book 'Ways to see Great Britain' looks interesting.

There are many books describing the UK of course, and I have many of them on my shelves.
I'm also interested in how students introduced to this sort of writing could also adapt some of the ideas to their own writing, and perhaps explore their own home areas anew.

This video outlines, the approach, which is inherently 'geographical'...



Saturday, May 27, 2017

2018 - EU year of Cultural Heritage

2018: the EU Year of Cultural Heritage

On 9 February 2017 Council and European Parliament representatives reached a provisional agreement on a decision establishing a European Year of Cultural Heritage (2018). 
Cultural heritage encompasses resources from the past in a variety of forms and aspects. These include monuments, sites, traditions, transmitted knowledge and expressions of human creativity, as well as collections conserved and managed by museums, libraries and archives.
The aim of this initiative is to raise awareness of European history and values and to strengthen a sense of European identity. At the same time, it draws attention to the opportunities offered by our cultural heritage, but also to the challenges it faces, such as the impact of the digital shift, environmental and physical pressure on heritage sites, and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects.

Expect some new resources from the GI Learner project on this theme here...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Public Service Broadcasting

2nd track from the new album, on the theme of the decline of coal mining....


Monday, May 1, 2017

The Human Atlas of Europe

The Human Atlas of Europe: A continent united in diversity
A review

Here are three important dates to remember for geographers…

· June 23rd 2016 – the EU referendum is held
· March 29th 2017 – Article 50 triggered
· April 24th 2017 – publication of the new Human Atlas of Europe

Policy Press previously published a Social Atlas of Europe, with the same author team in 2014, which explored European identify through a range of different facets.

This Atlas explores provides a human perspective on Europe as it exists today, and explores how it might look in the future. The motto of the EU is “United in Diversity”, and the authors explore the strength that this diversity offers, viewing ‘Europe’ as a single large area stretching from Iceland to Turkey. A reference map at the start identifies the 43 countries that are included in the maps, and their part in the evolution of the European Union.

Ben Hennig’s innovative and bold cartograms and other diagrams will be familiar to many, since their first use in Worldmapper. They also formed part of the more recent LondonMapper project. For those who haven’t seen Ben’s gridded-population cartograms, their construction is explained. The presentation of the mapping is crisp, and the consistent layout of the pages and colour ramps that are used allow for easy comparison between indicators across the atlas as a whole.

The atlas is split into a number of sections, each with mapping based around a theme. These are Population, Wealth and Poverty, Health, Education, Work, Environment, Politics, Identity and Culture and EU budget. Each theme also allows for an exploration of demographic issues such as an ageing population, the pensions ‘timebomb’ and changing voting patterns.

The data used to construct the maps are drawn from a range of authoritative sources, all clearly identified in the appendix. We learn many things from them: the huge number of asylum seekers hosted by Germany, the draw of Spain for people born abroad, the fact that Turkey and the UK have a third of Europe’s prison population between them, and the variations in dental treatment across Europe. The maps are accompanied by pie and bar charts, which bring some of the data patterns into sharper focus.

Full-page maps are accompanied by a ‘top five’ and ‘bottom five’ for the relevant social indicators, showing regions which lie at the extremes of each data set. These assist in further analysis of specific trends. Each map also have a written commentary, which suggest further areas for investigation. The maps pose many interesting questions for further enquiry: why does Monaco have twice as many telephone lines as any other country? why do so many Portuguese have no schooling? why are the Dutch the ‘happiest’ in Europe? why do the Macedonians value their friends the most? The authors are adept at bringing out the geographical stories underpinning the maps.

The inclusion of a Eurovision Song contest map for the 2015 contest is an illustration of the flexibility of Ben Hennig’s cartograms for exploring and visualising contemporary social data.

The dedication of the Atlas to the late Jo Cox, who was killed in the run-up to the referendum, and to those migrants who have lost their lives trying to reach Europe is a poignant reminder of the importance of these issues, and the duty that geography teachers as educators have to keep them in the spotlight. It is essential that curriculum time is found to study them. In the act of curriculum making they participate in daily, this atlas will be an essential catalyst for teacher-pupil discussions, and an authoritative source of information as we move towards a post-Brexit world. As the authors say in the concluding paragraph:

“Where else but in Europe do so many have so much without realising what they have? Europe is a continent that is truly united in such diversity”.

Details
Authors: Dimitris Ballas, Danny Dorling and Ben Hennig
Policy Press, April 2017
ISBN: 978-1447313540


The book is just £16 at the time of writing from the publisher’s own website: https://policypress.co.uk/the-human-atlas-of-europe

For more of Ben Hennig’s maps, check out his blog here: http://www.viewsoftheworld.net/

Danny Dorling’s website always contains further details on the books he has written, and provides a gateway to his writing: http://www.dannydorling.org/

Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy by Policy Press (although I would have bought one for my department as a reference copy)

Send my friend to School 2017

I've been involved in this campaign every year since it first launched, and it's nearly time to start preparing for 2017.

World leaders have promised every child in the world a quality education.
But a key piece of the puzzle is missing - the money to pay for this education - leaving the global picture with 263 million children missing out on school, and many more in school not learning. Now is the time to act to solve this crisis. We have a window of opportunity - 2017 is the year that world leaders can translate their words into action and fund education for all.

As part of the campaign, thousands of children across the country are creating paper jigsaw pieces, to represent that financing is the missing piece of the education puzzle, and sending them to their newly elected or re-elected MPs following the results of the UK General Election. It is important that as many MPs as possible can hear about the campaign so that they can see the strength of support for education.

Last year around 400 000 young people got involved. Can we get more this year?

Teachers can request resources to help them get involved in the campaign.

Shackleton Whisky launched

I followed the story of Shackleton's whisky being rescued from beneath the ice, and recreated by Mackinlay a few years ago, and if I didn't have a mortgage I'd buy one of the resulting bottles.
Now Whyte and Mackay have released this.

A new 'expression' has been launched, at a more reasonable price, although with more tenuous connection to the original of course.

I'd be happy to write a review :)