Showing posts from 2020

'Why Study Geography?' - coming soon

Geography is the big-picture subject for our times. It encompasses subjects ranging from the microscopic – how soils form, and how those soils can be protected and managed well to grow food, for example – through to things as large-scale as the future trajectory of megacities and the threat of ever more warming of the planet. Alan Parkinson’s guide clearly and carefully explains why geography is worthy of study, at GCSE, at A level and at university. It is bang up to date. Students, their teachers and parents are all likely to find it essential reading.
Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford
Just ahead of lockdown, I met with Richard and Sam from the London Publishing Partnership about writing a book in a series explaining why students should study different curriculum subjects. The History book is already published, and others are on the way. The lockdown gave me the time and the inclination to meet a quite tight deadline, and after several draft…

Gilbert White Webinar

A free talk on Gilbert White for those with an interest in this naturalist and observer of the natural world.

Join Kimberley James online as she introduces Gilbert White who celebrated his 300th anniversary in 2020. Gilbert White revolutionised the way the world looked at the nature, inspiring future scientists such as Charles Darwin.

Gilbert White born in 1720, and changed the way the world looked at nature through his book The Natural History of Selborne, published in 1789 and never out of print since.  Considered by many to be the father of ecology, he was once a household name as familiar as David Attenborough is today.  In this 1 hour talk Collections Manager at Gilbert White’s House Kimberley James will take you through Gilbert’s life from a lively child, to his world wide fame and lasting natural legacy. 
The talk will be followed by a Q&A and then both will be available on our YouTube Channel for the rest of the festival.


I went back to the cinema yesterday for the first time since February when I saw 'Parasite' ahead of its Oscar triumph.
My son and I went to the IMAX in Norwich, where Odeon Cinemas had worked out the experience very well. We were shown to our seat which had a bubble of space around it and showed out at the end of the film one row at a time. Once the film was underway and we were in our seats we could remove our masks if we wanted to.
The film that drew us back was the new Christopher Nolan film: TENET.

The film's action takes place in a number of locations including London, Mumbai, Italy, Oslo and Russia.

I discovered that there is a local connection, with wind farm support vessels from Great Yarmouth being used in one of the scenes.

An enjoyable return to the cinema - this was certainly the loudest film I've ever seen, and some great performances and set pieces... and the story kept you thinking and working out what was happening throughout. 

Covid-19 cases on the rise

As we get close to the start of term for English schools, cases are rising to levels not seen since late March. Anyone remember what happened then?

Save the Planet: Drink Beer

The brewery Brew Dog has announced a plan to go not only carbon neutral, but actually carbon negative. They are going to plant thousands of acres of woodlands and take other action to offset their industrial activity in creating many different beers, and also operating a number of premises.

Their plan has been drawn up with the help of Mike Berners Lee, who wrote an excellent book on carbon footprints of items which has just had a 2nd edition published.

Read about it here.

Download the plan as a PDF file via this link (PDF download)

Here's a useful starter image from the company's James Watt's twitter feed - may need to think about what age group you use this with - perhaps the older students given the language, and also the subject matter of beer...


Routes Issue 1: now published

The first issue of Routes Journal has now been published.
This contains a range of articles, research and book reviews contribute by 6th form geographers and undergraduates.
Each article has been peer reviewed by a team of teachers and academics.

The first article features an editorial / introduction by Klaus Dodds.

Congratulations to all of those involved in the production of this new journal.
This would make an excellent project for 6th form students to engage with.
Go here to download the articles.

I particularly enjoyed the piece by Rebecca Dunn from Loreto Grammar School.
Exploring a new exogenous force: Covid-19 and its effects on Didsbury (Manchester, UK)
which I shall add in to my latest version of the New PC Geographies document and the resources I am creating for the GA currently. Also Joel While's piece: A ‘strange combination’: neoliberalism and embodiment in the global food system

There's also a competition for students to enter with book prizes to win. Something to su…

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

“The scientists and the policymakers who are concerned about climate change are extremely sympathetic to the massive suffering a huge number of people have had through this pandemic. The entire point is that this is what societal change looks like when something changes.”
Helen Czerski
Covid-19 has provided a crucial opportunity to make drastic changes to tackle climate change, experts behind this year’s Royal Institution Christmas lectures have said.

The talks, Planet Earth: A User’s Guide, will take audiences on a deep dive into our planet’s workings, from rock formation and Earth’s ancient climate, to the fundamental role of the oceans and the makeup of the air we breathe.

Each of the three lectures will be presented by a different scientist from a trio of experts: the oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski, environmental scientist Dr Tara Shine and geologist Prof Chris Jackson.

Watch previous lectures here.
Details of the lectures this Christmas are here. In this year’s Christmas Lectures fr…

New Bruce...

...and very good it is...

Twenty Football Towns

‘To me, football is an important expression of a place-related collective identity, which operates as an important antidote to our increasingly atomised society’
Steve Leach

Thanks to David Cooper for the tipoff to this book, which looks very interesting and will be one I invest in at some point.

From the blurb for the book:
The town where we grew up and all the places we've lived are the bedrock of our lives, and memories of seeing the local team play are inextricably intertwined with our sense of place and identity. 
I used the look inside feature on Amazon to read a taster section of the book.
I was interested in Barney Ronay's piece on the power of place, particularly as it related to Anfield, and Liverpool's Premier league winning season that has just ended.

Even the journey there has a distinct tone and texture, something to do with the angles of the place, the topography of a port city, the way the light beyond the houses carries a sense of being at the end of things.…

Play Time

"It directs us to look around at the world we live in (the one we keep building), then at each other, and to see how funny that relationship is and how many brilliant possibilities we still have in a shopping-mall world that perpetually suggests otherwise; to look and see that there are many possibilities and that the play between them, activated by the dance of our gaze, can become a kind of comic ballet, one that we both observe and perform..." Jonathan Rosenbaum
I've been working through the films of Jacques Tati with my son.
He created the character of Mr. Hulot, who reappears in almost all of his films.
PlayTime is an absolute classic, but cost so much that it took all of Tati's money and bankrupted him, costing him his house and control over his other films. When you read the story of its creation you can understand why, with weather destroying part of the set during filming. The set was not the usual.
Tati actually built a small city block just on the edge of P…

Great British Literature Map

I'm a great fan of the maps produced by ST&G.

I've got all their previous maps, and they are lovely things.

Their latest map is a Literature Map of the UK.

This features:
The Top 50 of Britain’s literary spots, a truly thrilling road trip connecting them all, and reading suggestions to bring them to life in unique fashionOver 1,000 settings, fictional locations and real places that inspired fictional locationsFollow in the footsteps of your favourite characters with over 30 amazing routesOver 600 brilliant bookshops and lovely librariesOver 250 of the finest literary festivals and eventsA litany of museums, attractions, graves, memorials, trails, theatres and scenes of other glorious literature-related tales and random nuggetsIt can be ordered from the Ordnance Survey shop on this link.

Or visit their Marvellous Maps website, and 'get smitten with Britain'.

Place 2020

Place 2020is a new project which has been launched as part of the Centre for Place Writing.

The work here explores, via a dynamic mix of new writing (poetry, essay, commentary, reflection and story), films, photography and podcasts, how ideas of ‘place’ shifted radically across the globe in 2020, as billions of people went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter Movement changed how we think about everything.

New work will feature on this site throughout 2020.
An excellent piece by Amy Liptrotis part of the first few pieces, exploring young people's relationship with nature.
I often think about how the geographies of our childhoods define our psyches. I grew up next to cliffs, in big skies with the open ocean and wide horizons. I’m coming to see that my son’s ‘local acre’, his native mile, will be different. Where we now live, in West Yorkshire, is about as landlocked as you can be in the UK. His is a world of woods and rivers, of terraced houses among t…

'Landscapes of Detectorists' - from Uniformbooks

"Alright geography degree, where should we be searching?"
I've been waiting for this book for some time, and it's lovely to finally hold it in my hand and flick through its contents before diving in. I didn't quite do a "gold dance" when my lovely postlady left it on the doormat and retreated two metres, but not far off.
'Detectorists' instantly grabbed me when the first episode of the first series was broadcast on the BBC on 2nd of October 2014. The week before I'd watched another wonderful Toby Jones performance in 'Marvellous' about the life of Neil Baldwin, so I was keen to see him in this new series too.
There was something calming about the series as it progressed, with the relationship between Becky and Andy, the banter about 'University Challenge', their random finds and changing relationships. There are so many small moments of joy (many of which make it into the pages of the book)

The random curries made from whatever…

OFQUAL Consultation on Fieldwork in GCSEs for 2021

“Fieldwork is the best and most immediate means of bringing the two aspects of the subject (i.e. a body of knowledge and a distinctive method of study) together in the experience of the pupil. Therefore, fieldwork is a necessary part of geographical education; it is not an optional extra”  
(Bailey, 1974)
Over the years I've been part of many consultations and responses to consultations from the GA and also in a personal capacity. 
Over the years the GA and other bodies have had to fight to keep aspects of the subject, indeed the whole subject itself, on the curriculum.
Many consultations receive a low number of responses.
This often plays to those who want to skew the result in a particular way by saying "look, there's no real opposition to this in the responses to the consultation".
OFQUAL has a consultation running until the 16th of July. TAKE PART!

This consultation is on the content and running of the 2021 Exams for GCSE, AS (which nobody really does anymore) and A …

The new urgency of climate change - Al Gore

"Getting informed consent from 7.8 billion people who have no voice and no say, who are subject to the potentially catastrophic consequences of this wackadoodle proposal that somebody comes up with to try to rearrange the entire Earth's atmosphere and hope and pretend that it's going to cancel out the fact that we're putting 152 million tons of heat trapping manmade global warming pollution into the sky, every day that's what's really insane."

New from TED for June 2020.
An important interview with Al Gore. I remember 'An Inconvenient Truth'.

The coronavirus brought much of the world to a standstill, dropping carbon emissions by five percent. Al Gore says keeping those rates down is now up to us. In this illuminating interview, he discusses how the steadily declining cost of wind and solar energy will transform manufacturing, transportation and agriculture, offer a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear energy and create millions of new jobs…

Geography SW has launched

A new website for those who are in the SW, and those who aren't.
Launched by Simon Ross, John Davidson and Emma Espley, and supported by a team of geographers including Harry West from UWE.
The site already includes resources for all key stages and also advice for those wanting to visit the SW, those studying at University, and teachers requiring CPD in the area. Plenty of links through to GA support materials and resources are included.

The site will continue to grow over time. There are already some interesting GCSE case studies added for example.
Of course, we could now have other groups of geographers stepping up to produce similar portals for other parts of the country.

Guidance on how to contribute to the site is here. This could be a way for those who want to share their work and ideas to have them publicised so that others can easily access them.

Mapping Place, Troubling Space

A multi-media essay from J R Carpenter - worth a read. Some interesting ideas.

Landscapes of Detectorists

Now available to pre-order on Uniform Books website.

‘Landscapes of Detectorists’ considers the programme’s engagement with landscape, its ecological resonances, and its attention to place and identity.

This book offers four distinct geographical readings of Detectorists—Innes M. Keighren attends to the sensory, technological, and emotional interpretation of landscape; Isla Forsyth examines the relationship between objects, memory, and place; the significance of verticality, the aerial, and groundedness is discussed by Andrew Harris; and Joanne Norcup considers the contested interconnections of gender, expertise, and knowledge making.

The collection is bookended by reflections on the creative processes and decisions that supported the journey of Detectorists from script to screen: in a foreword written by its writer-director, Mackenzie Crook, and in an afterword written by its originating producer, Adam Tandy.

Illustrated throughout with black and white stills from the programme.

New GA CPD packs

The Geographical Association has launched a series of CPD Packs.
They are designed for teachers to use in school with colleagues. Each one contains a range of practical activities which are flexible to suit your context.

Each pack meets the 2016 Standard for teachers’ professional development (DfE) and contains a range of practical activities which are flexible to both your context, the amount of time that you have available and your department or school’s needs.

The GA will be running a free webinar to introduce the series and to give teachers an opportunity to engage with some of the activities from the CPD pack: What makes a geography lesson ‘good’? 
This will take place on Wednesday 3 June and the GA will be running the webinar twice – once between 10am and 11am and again between 4pm and 5pm.
You can book a place here.

Aftenlandet ('Evening Land')

Never seen this before until it appeared on a Facebook group earlier.
Jan Garbarek and Mari Boine with a piece of music from Jan's 'Visible World'
Powerful Sami singing and the Norwegian landscape along with Jan's Sax...

Apparently made for the Winter Olympics.

AFTENLANDET (the Evening Land) by Erik Poppe. (1994) Music by Jan Garbarek and Mari Boine. from Erik Poppe on Vimeo.
Made by comission for NRK and the Winter Olympics in 1994. Scripted and directed by Erik Poppe. Music written and performed by Jan Garbarek and Mari Boine.

Michael Palin on post-Corona travel

Michael Palin was on the Andrew Marr Show this morning.

He was asked about what travelling might be like in the future as we come out of lockdown and lose our holidays. How should we cope with that.

"I think you can travel less and travel better.
If we have to be confined to travelling in the UK, it's not a bad place to travel - there are all sorts of wonderful places - and different landscapes and different sorts of atmospheres - Northern Scotland, Cornwall.
Go to places and learn more about them, enjoy them more.
Find out more about your own country.
It's going to be very difficult for people right across the world to actually travel again as we did before until we find a vaccine. Nobody is going to pack people into aeroplanes as they did before.
No cheap and cheerful flights around the world.
It's going to be very difficult to see the rest of the world. So narrow your horizons is not necessarily a bad thing.
Look more carefully
Look more thoroughly
Learn to enjoy your…

Future Geographers - careers and study in Geography

If the conference was going ahead as planned, one of my contributions was to do a session for the Young Geographers' strand.
This didn't form part of the final eConference.

As I knew the conference was cancelled, I didn't spend the day or so needed to finish it off, but have put in some notes of what I would have said. If I am called on to do this session next year it will all have changed anyway, so I thought I'd share it as part of my contributions to the eConference.

I've shared it here for you to view / fillet as required to help with transition perhaps for Y11 / Y13 students over the coming weeks.


I have this on my iPhone at low volume every night, and now it is being broadcast live this evening through until tomorrow.
An 8 hour instrumental piece...
"...made as a kind of landscape for the sleeping mind to inhabit..."

Radio 3 link here. It's a beautiful relaxation, and when I wake part way through the night I am then able to go back quickly....

Young Geographer of the Year 2020 - and Rex Walford Award

This year’s RGS-IBG Young Geographer of the Year competition gives young people the chance to explore the potential that geography holds.

The title this year is particularly apt.
Although we might all be confined to our homes, and doing #geographyathome, the RGS-IBG are asking young people to explore their wider geographical horizons by providing entries to the Young Geographer of the Year competition and explore the geography of:
'The world beyond my window'

They are interested in entries that explore the human and physical geography of places that exist beyond a young person's window, be it locally or further afield. They want to know how young people’s lives are connected to and influenced by these places - be the connections physical, digital or emotional. They also want students to demonstrate that they understand how geographical processes in the physical and human worlds have created these places and might be changing them.

The competition has four categories as usu…

Digimap for Schools - free until the end of July

In an effort to help students and parents during this challenging time of isolation and home schooling, Digimap for Schools will be free for any school to access from today until the end of July 2020.
If you are an existing Digimap for Schools subscriber, they are automatically extending  subscriptions by four months, at no cost, subscribers don't need to do a thing.
Register your details and start accessing Digimap for Schools immediately.

IB Webinar with Matt and Richard

If you teach iGCSE / IB Geography you may want to check out the details.
In association with Discover the World Education.

This will be an essential webinar for all International teachers.
It may become a more regular event during lockdown.

Details on how to join will appear on the IB Facebook Group.

Hodder OCR GCSE Geography 2nd editions

These books have been delayed by the coronavirus, affecting printing and distribution.
The OCR B book is ready to go out once it is safe to do so.

Here's a first view of the new covers - they look good :)

Updated support materials will also be available.

Geograph - now available in Welsh

The Geograph project has appeared here numerous times over the years. It played a big part in my first trip up to the SAGT Conference.

When it was first launched, I publicised it over on GeographyPages and contributed some early images of the Norfolk area and bagged a few squares along the coast.

The Geograph Project Ltd is a small national charity – an online community and project that maps the British Isles with photographs and information, “to advance the education of the public in geography and heritage”. They have over 6 million moderated, geo-located and dated images on www, , made available through a Creative Commons Licence.

Many people use the website to learn about where they live or areas they might visit.
Don't forget that there is also a schools area providing some activities and games that can be played to explore the millions of images.

After a lot of hard work, the site has been translated into Welsh.

The Schools Area is also now available in Welsh.

Geographical Association website - now free access for three months

Work has been going on behind the scenes to make this happen for the last few days and earlier today the necessary changes to the website were made for open access to the GA website to be enabled.

There are numerous resources on here which non-members will not have been aware of.
The work that we did for the Action Plan for Geography had to be made freely available, but a great deal of extra resources are provided on the website behind the members' paywall.

I am very pleased to say that I had a part in quite a few of them during my time working for the Association, and before and since, including numerous resources, teacher support and CPD courses.

I am also currently working on some extra guidance for teachers and resources which I hope will be added to the site in time for the Summer term, when we shall still probably be locked down.
We're committed to geography education. With most children now being asked to stay at home, we have made all our teaching resources fully open …

Iceland blog - a post a day in 2020

I'm 2 and a half months in to my latest blogging project.

A post a day on the country of Iceland.
Check it out and feel free to help me complete my alpabetical exploration this month.
I was due to head over there in April but that has now all been cancelled...

American Oscars for American films?

I'll just leave this here...

President Trump complaining that Parasite won the Best Film Oscar.

That's not quite how the Oscars work....

Trump and Greenland

I posted about Trump's desire to buy Greenland at the time, but just come across this tweet and video which are rather good, and might be of use to those exploring geopolitics and cultural implications of this request.
The race for the Arctic is on, and for what?
For more fossil fuels...

I'd missed this Tweet as well.

A chance to work with me

Occasionally, a job appears in the school where I work, and in the department where I work...
There's one free again at the moment.
We are after someone to work in the Senior school in particular, who is a strong 'A' level practitioner, through GCSE and down to KS3 in the Junior School potentially. There will also be some wider contribution to the school community too of course - sport perhaps, or some other skill you have.

Full details are on the school website.

You have until the 3rd of March to apply, and interviews are held on the 10th of March.
Good luck!

GA Conference 2020 Teachmeet

Tickets are now available on Eventbrite for the GA Conference Teachmeet at the GA Conference 2020.
They are free of charge, and you don't have to be a conference delegate to attend, so pop in for an early Friday night treat and a beer if you live near Guildford.
Thanks to David Rogers for organising the event.

TeachMeet is not about presenting a new product or theory, rather it is a chance for teachers to hear real narratives of practice from each other. It is about being engaged and inspired by our colleagues – with a bucket-load of networking to boot!
It is free to attend, networking and cash bar from 5:30pm with presentations starting at 5:45pm. An hour of turbo CPD!
Presentations are strictly limited to 6 minutes. They will be in a random order.
Sign up here to come along - this is to give us an idea of numbers. The event is open to all, not restricted to conference delegates.
Several future GA Presidents have presented at previous Teachmeets.

Sign up to speak. Preference to those in…

New GA Chair of Trustees role

The Geographical Association is looking for a Chair of Trustees to support the existing Governing Body fulfil its role in a fascinating and ever-changing educational landscape. It will also involve working with the current Presidential team - JVP (me), VP (Susan Pike), President (Gill Miller) and Past President (Stephen Scoffham) along with other key members of the GA's group of trustees. This is an interesting change in the governance of the Association, and we are looking for someone who has significant experience and skills which will allow us to learn from each other.
This is an exciting opportunity for someone. Please share with people you think may be available and ideal for the role.

Details are here on Guardian Jobs. Feel free to get in touch via Ricky Buck / Gill Miller for more details and information.

Deadline is the 20th of February.

Documents are available from the Guardian Jobs page.

Free CPD in Dubai

My invitation to present at this event was obviously lost in the post, but for those colleagues in Dubai, there is an excellent CPD opportunity coming up in March.

Details sent by Matt Podbury.

Calling all teachers in/near Dubai, there is a fantastic free CPD day coming up in March.
The Geography Teacher Toolkit Conference will be held at Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis and include sessions from Matt Podbury, (, Richard Waller (Keele University) and John Sayers (Nord Anglia International School, Dubai).
Secure your place today and don’t forget to sign up for our teachmeet afterwards! 

The tickets have gone live on Eventbrite. They are FREE!

Order of the day

8.30 am - Registration

9.10 am - Introductions

9.30 am - Fieldwork and Geographic Skills - Richard Waller
This session will explore the creative ways in which fieldwork can be used to enhance the development of a range of important geographical skills. This would include field observation and interpretation, the combi…

RIP The Professor

So sad to hear the news tonight that Neil Peart has passed away at the age of 67....
He was a part of my life for over 40 years, and Rush have to be one of the three bands that I have played the most whether on LP, CD or streamed on Spotify. I was privileged to see him play live 6 or 7 times I think from 1982 onwards, to the final live gig on the Time Machine tour in 2012 - regretting not seeing them on the Clockwork Angels tour now.... what a musician...
One of my favourite videos is when Peart laid down a drum track for his friend Matt Scannell from Vertical Horizon. The enjoyment of Matt as his friend and hero plays drums for him is infectious, and the drum track is awesome.... There are so many Rush tracks I could embed here... but check this out first...

And then check out Red Barchetta live from that Time Machine tour....
Rest in peace Neil...

Arctic: culture and climate

A new exhibition is opening at the British Museum in May 2020. It looks like it will be excellent.

From 28,000-year-old mammoth ivory jewellery to modern refitted snow mobiles, the objects in this immersive exhibition reveal the creativity and resourcefulness of indigenous peoples in the Arctic. Developed in collaboration with Arctic communities, the exhibition celebrates the ingenuity and resilience of Arctic peoples throughout history. It tells the powerful story of respectful relationships with icy worlds and how Arctic peoples have harnessed the weather and climate to thrive.

The dramatic loss of ice and erratic weather caused by climate change is putting unprecedented pressure on Arctic peoples, testing their adaptive capacities and threatening their way of life.

What happens in the Arctic will affect us all and this exhibition is a timely reminder of what the world can learn from its people.

Long ago people knew something was going to happen to this earth. How they knew it, I do…