Showing posts from 2016

Christmas blogging break...

I'm about to take my annual break from blogging for a few days... Thanks for reading Cultcha this year. I've managed to add 46 posts this year, around one a week. Image: Ronald Lampitt, who also illustrated 'The Map that came to Life' and many Ladybird books...

Current listening...

Quite apt…

A world of music

"Online radio is this ancient technology in a way. So we decided to use it as a sort of navigational tool." This is a neat map and music projec t: Radio Garden. Click the map and find radio stations all over the world. Drag the map and hear the static as the radio retunes to the next available station…. This was my local one that it started playing straight away…. Radio West Norfolk. The website uses ESRIs mapping and was produced by Jonathan Puckey at @studiopuckey Why not provide a list of cities, and ask students to find them (reinforcing geographical knowledge as to where they are) and also assess the extent to which the music they find there is global and recognisable. What language is spoken by the DJ? If there is more than one station in a city they are listed in the bottom right, and clicking switches between them. Where are the 'quiet parts' of the world where there are few stations? Do they correspond to a map of population density? Use the

Teachmeet at the GA Conference

David Rogers has revealed the details and signing-up form for the Teachmeet which will be held to coincide the GA Conference in 2017. The timing is not ideal for some as it is after the Easter holidays, but this remains the essential CPD for teachers of Geography , and is worth seeking special permission to visit. Hope to see lots of you there. I'll put myself down as a deputy speaker in case there are gaps, or people who have to withdraw at the last minute. Will be good to see lots of new speakers and attendees. Also get your ticket from the Eventbrite page if you are wanting to attend.


A few weeks ago, partly coinciding with Practical Pedagogies (see recent posts), I came across a really nice idea using emojis. For a while, we've had an emoji sheet by the classroom door where students can choose a quick feedback on what they felt about the lesson that had just finished. This post used the emojis as a resource and a stimulus for discussion during a lesson, and reflection on themes, by providing a symbol with several meanings - a simple semiotic stimulus... It was the work of Jonathan Taylor, who tweets at @HistGeoBritSec. He'd shared his ideas for megacities. Loved the session on starters & plenaries by @HistGeoBritSec #pracped16 - Great new ideas. — GeographyPods (@MattPodbury) November 3, 2016 There are plenty of posts on the twitter feed, and quite a few teachers seem to have been using the idea following Jonathan's session at Practical Pedagogies. I created a bespoke set of emojis to related to the wor

Current listening...

New GA CPD course - updated for March 2017

Updated with a new date For a period between 2007 and 2013, I ran regular courses for the Geographical Association , including the Living Geography courses, NQT Conferences , GIS courses with ESRI, New Fieldwork courses and plenty of others. In that time, I worked with hundreds of teachers, and learned a lot about my own practice. When I returned to teaching full time in 2013, I didn't have time to do them, and stopped, and a 'new' generation of presenters has taken over including Catherine Owen, Ben Ballin, Garry Simmons and Becky Kitchen. Now, I'm back leading an event for the GA, with a new course, which has the added advantage of being 'my old favourite price': FREE. So you can come along for an afternoon discussing technology and global learning, and networking with other colleagues, and leaving with some new ideas for you I hope. Now rescheduled for March 2017 It's being put on in Bury St. Edmunds, so it's a handy location for those in S

Are you a citizen of the world?

Behind the desk in my classroom is one of Richard Allaway 's display posters, with quotes linked to geography. There are several sets of them, and they are recommended for your classroom. They can be downloaded from here. It's the one opposite, featuring Socrates. In a recent speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Theresa May said "...if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don't understand what citizenship means." Theresa May studied Geography at one of the world's great universities ( rate d number 1 in the world in fact at the moment) and one would expect that she might have come across the idea of scale , and that it is possible to hav e a connection with a place in numerous ways simultaneously, and that all p laces are essentially tran sitory and in constant motion in any case, whether that be by cul tural shift, or the slow crawl of the tect on ic plates on which they sit . We are all citizens of

What makes us Human? Geography of course...

Moana.... cultural appropriation discussion

The latest Disney film features characters from Polynesian mythology... This Guardian article suggests it's not the first film to engage in this cultural appropriation....

Changing Places

New British Red Cross resource...

A new resource that I wrote for the British Red Cross has now been published, and placed online for download. It's taken almost a year from the original start of the project, which John Lyon asked me to do before he retired from the GA. During that time it has grown and become a major resource. It's 130 pages long , and packed with ideas for teaching about natural hazards and humanitarian aid. Free to download from the British Red Cross website. “We urge all geography teachers to download this free resource and encourage young people to think about the humanitarian impact of natural disasters. This invaluable resource pack has been created with the technical input from the British Red Cross combined with the expertise of GA teacher consultants.” Rebecca Kitchen, Secondary Curriculum Leader at the Geographical Association Introduction and curriculum links Learn about how the resource has been designed to support your teaching and how the content maps to the geogra

A Canterbury Tale

This is in my top 3 films (if I have one...) There is something about it which grabbed me the first time I saw it, and continues to do so now decades later...

Media literacy and geographies of consumption...

Here's the latest resource that I have worked on (a little - I gave some guidance on the contents and Finnish translation and activities) It's been developed by Eeva Kemppainen and Ian Cook, who I've worked with previously. Developed for Pro-Ethical Trade Finland This guide sets out an approach to teaching media literacy and the geographies of consumption that has been developed by the NGO Pro Ethical Trade Finland (Eettisen kaupan puolesta ry), with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. A subvertisement workshop involves interpreting and subverting the messages made in product advertising. With their teachers, students are shown how to critically read advertisements brought into the classroom and encouraged to work out: • How images and texts are designed to convey a message about a commodity • How advertisements convey relationships between people, places and things • What claims advertisements make about the origins and uses of com

Pole of Cold Exhibition

If you are heading to the Historic Dockyards at Chatham over the next few months, you can check out a specially expanded version of the Pole of Cold exhibition which has been to several other locations over the last few years. This is the expedition which I got involved with in a small way by writing the educational resources, funded by the RGS-IBG (as was the expedition). The resources won a Scottish Association of Geography Teacher's (SAGT) Award in 2014. Read more about it in earlier posts on this blog. Further details of the exhibition: Discover the mystical world of the Arctic and the people who live there.  From Shamanism to ice cream. Kent’s very own polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE presents a diverse and exciting exhibition, which combines the natural world, adventure and art.  This compelling exhibition gives an insight into the coldest place on earth. Pole of Cold explores what life is like in some of the coldest permanently inhabited places in the Arcti

New 'A' level book now published...

Breaking into the summer break for some important news … The AQA 'A' level Geography textbook that I worked for over 2 years on editing and co-writing (and re-writing) is now in stock at the publishers!   Order your copies now. Thanks again to everyone who helped with the project! Image: Caroline Walton from CUP

Crystal Serenity - cultural opportunities...

Countdown to Crystal Serenity: The 1 per cent are coming to Canada’s Arctic via @macleansmag — Jane George (@sikugirl) July 19, 2016 This post has been in draft for a couple of months, and the story has evolved since it was first announced. This would now be a useful idea for exploring fragile cold environments. I'm going to try to develop this as an evolved case study piece, but ran out of time… will come back to this I think I've just read a Jonathan Franzen piece on Antarctica in the Times which was excellent and worth hunting out... The Crystal Serenity is a large cruise ship, which is going to boldly go on a voyage this summer, setting off in August 2016… and it's one that all geographers should be fascinated by. The ship is going to sail around the north of Canada, and go through what would have been referred to in the past as the Northwest Passage. The ship's website has a range of detail on the vo

Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

Cultural geography was at the heart of this really enjoyable Opening ceremony. There were images of the rainforest, the arrival of European migrants, slavery, the changes in the landscape, and the growth of the cities and the favelas. There was a major element of the environment about the event, with some visualisations on climate change being displayed prominently... I enjoyed the city scenes with amazing projections on the floor of the stadium, and the fireworks were good as well. The ceremony was shown with a delay in the USA apparently, and according to an article: NBC responded to online criticism by saying that its team needed time to edit the ceremony and put it into context for viewers in the US. In a statement, a spokesperson said: "It's not a sports competition. "It's a cultural ceremony that requires deep levels of understanding , with numerous camera angles and our commentary laid over it. "We think it's important to give it the pr

Pixar Piper

Out to see 'Finding Dory' today which is excellent - I preferred it to 'Finding Nemo' as there's more humour and invention, and of course the familiarity with the characters helps... The short film that went with it was also wonderful. It's called 'Piper ' and has exploration and overcoming fear at its heart... and of course it looks beautiful... Are you ready to brave the waves?

Well done to Ollie Bray

Ollie has just finished an amazing 4228.5 mile unsupported ride across the USA from West to East. A really inspirational ride, and look forward to reading the book. TransAM Miles: 4228.5 miles Getting Lost / Accessing Services off-route miles: 36 miles Total Miles: 4264.5 miles Total Time: 28 days, 2 hours and 46 mins Average miles per day: 152 miles Longest Mileage Day: 202 miles (who even thought that was possible!) Shortage Milage Day: 73 miles Normal time cycling each day: 16/17 hours Total punctures: Six Tires worn out: Five (three back and two front) Brake Pads worn out: Two sets Crashes: One (Day 14 - all healed now but week three was pretty sore!) Lowest Point: Sea Level 0m/ft at Astoria and Yorktown Highest Point: 3617m / 11,539ft at Hoosier Pass, Colorado Tubes of Chamois Cream used: 2.5 Favorite State: Wyoming (Can’t beat Yellowstone and the Tetons + good to re-visit some of the places that I peddled on the 2008 Divide Route) Least Favorite State: Kentucky Total Beers c

Google Favela Tour

Google has been working in the favelas of Brazil to produce a virtual fieldtrip experience which, with the Olympics about to start in earnest (some events have already started) is well worth taking a look at. Thanks to Ben Hennig for the tipoff to this resource. Favelas are being mapped because "a big part of having an identity is having an atlas". They are not just a place, they are a people, and to fully understand them, you must go inside... This is colourful and is well worth experiencing (make sure that you wear your headphones when you do)

Pokemon Go - a cultural phenomenon...

Pokemon Go has been receiving a LOT of media attention. This is now being described as a cultural phenomenon , and I will be blogging about the geographical aspects of the app here and over on LivingGeography. Let me know if you have any articles that you come across relating to the use of the app. We already have plenty written about the way that young people are spending time outside, but are they taking notice of where they are going? Are they looking at the nature around them, or just the screen and their pokedex? This article describes the idea that young people perhaps know more species of Pokemon than they know species of native plants and animals... You can also download the Phylo(mon) Card Game.

National Parks Week

National Parks Week is the National Parks family's annual celebration of everything that is unique and wonderful about Britain's breathing spaces. It runs from Monday 25 to Sunday 31 July 2016. The theme for National Parks Week 2016 is adventure . With diverse landscapes, activities and events there's an adventure waiting at whatever scale suits you!  One way to ensure that adventures take place is to get hold of a copy of Mission:Explore National Parks. Available from all National Park shops for £5 or 500p.... I'm off to the Norfolk Broads later in the week for my National Park adventure...

'A' level book gone to print

After two years and thousands of hours of effort, the 'A' level textbook for the new AQA specification has now gone to print. It will be published by Cambridge University Press. This is great news, as it means that the book will now be out several weeks before other similar books, and also ahead of the end of the summer break, so teachers will be able to have access to it in the crucial few weeks before the start of the new academic year. I was the series editor for the book, and also the associated materials. You can see the names of the author team on the cover image below - a great team, helped by a large team from CUP. You can find out more about the book (and order your copies) here.

50 fondest childhood memories from East Anglia

According to a survey carried out recently… How many do you agree with? 1. Family trips to the beach 2. Watching Top of the Pops 3. Hop scotch 4. Hide and seek 5. Fish and chips 6. Pic n Mix sweets 7. Collecting shells on the beach 8. Ice cream van music 9. Sports days 10. Playground games (British bulldog etc.) 11. Watching children’s’ TV 12. Kiss chase 13. Recording the music charts on a Sunday 14. Paddling in the sea 15. Pencil cases 16. Climbing trees 17. Collecting toys/ cards/ collectibles etc. 18. Going to Woolworths to buy records 19. Dinner ladies 20. Fighting with my siblings 21. Ice creams from the ice cream van 22. School dinners 23. Egg and spoon race 24. Going ‘back to school’ shopping at the end of summer holidays 25. Playing outside until it was dark 26. Visiting cousins 27. Reading magazines 28. Fishing for tad poles in a pond 29. Sleepovers with friends 30. Your teeth falling o

Art and the landscape...

Out to the Norfolk coast today to visit Cley16 : an annual art exhibition which takes place in the church in Cley and other nearby locations. These included a piece by Brian Korteling which is shown below, and which I really liked. It represents the view as taken from 3 different perspectives, and breaks up the lines nicely...

160 000 views

Thanks for visiting and reading. Here's to a cultural summer ahead.... will be sharing some of my highlights here... Don't forget to check out my GeoLibrary project, which is coming towards its conclusion, with 365 books and other media all with a geographical theme.

Do it Kits

I've worked with Helen from Mission:Explore for years now, on all of our books and other materials, and also worked with her on the INTEL DISTANCE project (you can search on the blog to find out more about that, and other projects with a whole range of partners and clients. Helen's latest work is taking her into 'making', and the use of Arduino boards and ICT, alongside laser cut or 3D printed objects. She has just launched her first kit, which is on the DO IT KITS website , as an individual kit, or as a class set. I had a chance to play with one of the kits at the GeoVation space, and they are very nicely put together and provide a range of curriculum materials. Here's the description from the website. Test your reaction time and learn about neurons, synapses, ethics, human experimentation, computer and human sensing systems, and working scientifically.   Time to React comes with over three hours of lesson plans for GCSE Biology, with related activiti

RIP Gordon Murray - creator of Trumptonshire

I was sad to hear of the death of Gordon Murray earlier this week, and it triggered some nostalgia, and led me to hunt out my DVD box set of the three series that I remember watching in the late 1960s.... Camberwick Green Trumpton Chigley which Murray created. They were based on an idea of nostalgic 'middle England', and featured a range of characters including the famous fire crew, Windy Miller, and the workers of a biscuit factory. There was the classic voice of Brian Cant, and some excellent music. The music, which brings back so many memories of my childhood is featured below... BBC Front Row featured some memories from Phill Jupitus. Scope for a resource on the Geography of Trumptonshire, which might also include reference to Radiohead's video for 'Burn the Witch'.

Right, I'm taking the steps...



Cultural globalisation...


Just because... The original Mission:Explore book - now sadly out of print... Mission Explore slo mo from Alan Parkinson on Vimeo .

10 years of the Edexcel Geography Ning

Over ten years ago, while working as a Head of Geography at a school in King's Lynn , I came across the Ning platform, short for Networking. It offered a free (at the time) platform which had the features of all sorts of other sites in one: - bulletin board for discussions - chat room - hosting of image galleries - hosting of videos, with embed codes - numerous groups with membership - profile pages Documents could be attached to discussions and this allowed for a community to develop, which could chat, share ideas and join groups around sub-themes. I built a Ning to support 6th form students and it worked well - in fact I did my first teachmeet presentation back in 2008 on Nings. In June 2007 , faced with the changes that were coming at 'A' level, we opted for Edexcel as the most forward thinking of the new specifications . They were introducing new ideas for the time, including ideas such as Rebranding Places, and a unit on Cultural Geography. We were teach

26 years ago today

I am told that when men hear its voice, it stays in their ears, they cannot be rid of it. It has many different voices: some happy, but others sad. It roars like a baboon, murmurs like a child, drums like the blazing arms of one thousand drummers, rustles like water in a glass, sings like a lover and laments like a priest... One of the greatest pieces of music ever was released.. apart from the final few minutes when Janet Brown appears...

Free 'A' level course

Geography teachers are invited to a one day workshop at the University of Manchester on 24th June, 2016 to support the launch of the new A-Level Geography Syllabus. Parallel lectures run by Geography@Manchester researchers will deliver the core Geography of space and place theory, the carbon cycle and arid land Geography, the areas of the new syllabus which are perhaps less familiar to some teachers.  In the afternoon, teachers are invited to a round-table discussion to consider how to translate the new learning to the classroom, in turn generating tangible lesson ideas. The workshop will be opened by Professor Martin Evans who led the new A-Level consultancy on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society. This workshop is FREE to attend. Please book your place by 20th June and indicate which of the three workshops you would like to attend by choosing the relevant ticket. Coffee will be served with registration from 9.30am in the Foyer of the Humanities Bridgeford Stre

Cultural Geography of Landscape

2nd edition of David Matless book on landscape... Looks like being an essential book on cultural geography....

A spot of Fenland culture in July this year...

Are there similar events in your own home area? What local culture is worth celebrating in your home region? What would you include in a festival for your locale?

Mission:Explore National Parks

Out soon in English and Welsh, the latest of our Explorer HQ books under the Mission:Explore name. This is Mission:Explore National Parks , and involves the usual shenanigans of creative ideas for kids of all ages. The books will be available for £5 from all National Park shops in England, Scotland and Wales. Here's a pile fresh back from the printers. As always it's been wrangled by myself, Dan Raven Ellison and Mark Pearce, and shaped by Helen Steer , who skilfully blended all of our words with some inkings from the mighty  Tom Morgan Jones. Very proud to have been involved with this, and we also have two other projects which are freshly brewed and about to launch. Will tell all when I'm allowed to… Watch this space for plenty more exciting Explorer HQ news soon….

An album for desert geomorphologists...

Dune on the cover, and named after the Shamal wind , which blows through Iraq and neighbouring areas… 40 years old now, and my soundtrack for tonight's writing… Featuring the late Pierre Moerlen, one of the best musicians I ever saw playing live…

Locate that Landmark

Thanks to Rob Chambers for the link to this fun quiz. Locate that Landmark would be useful for younger students to find well known places, which they could then investigate further. Which of them are: a) natural features b) man-made c) located in National Parks d) World Heritage Sites e) of specific Cultural interest etc. You could also do it as a competition, as speed is of the essence as well as accuracy. On my first go on my phone I scored 10,750 on Level 1 - can you beat that? Also useful for UK Geography introduction - UK is important in GCSE Geography under the new specifications. Those taking the UK Citizenship test also need to be aware of many of these places too.


Earlier this week, I received a preview copy of the latest book by Danny Dorling and Carl Lee. The book is called ‘Geography’. Published by Profile books , this is the latest in a series of books which explore topics, in a similar (but completely different) style to the successful ‘Very Short Introduction’ series, and have previously explored ‘Politics’ and ‘Social Theory’ for example. Geography is of course impossible to pin down easily in one small book, as it has an ambition which is ‘absurdly vast’, as Alastair Bonnett said in his own book on the subject, but Danny and Carl give it a good go. The introduction sets the scene for the story to come, exploring the rapidly changing world which geographers try to explore, and tell the story of through their work. In my teaching, I am always looking for the compelling narrative that will draw learners in, and provide opportunities for them to reach their own informed conclusions. The first chapter in the book: ‘Tradition’ exp