Teaching Geography

February 17, 2023 Island Teacher

Primary Geography Teaching

Before entering into a consideration of Geography Teaching, it is important to come to a shared understanding of the fundamental concepts within Geography.

What are the overarching concepts in Geography?

Geography is a vast and diverse field, and there are several overarching concepts that help to organize and understand its many sub-disciplines and areas of focus. Here are a few of the most important concepts in geography:


Space and place: Geography is concerned with the organization and distribution of physical and human phenomena in space. "Space" refers to the abstract, two-dimensional representation of an area, while "place" is a more concrete and subjective concept that incorporates the social, cultural, and historical meanings that people attach to particular locations.

Scale: Geography is concerned with phenomena at different scales, from the local to the global. This means that geographers examine how processes and patterns change depending on the size of the area being studied, and how different scales are interconnected.

Interconnectedness: Geography recognizes that the world is a complex system of interrelated processes and phenomena, and that studying any one aspect of it requires an understanding of its relationship to other elements of the system. This concept is often referred to as "spatial interdependence."

Environment and sustainability: Geography is concerned with the relationship between humans and the natural environment, and with how human activities impact the planet's ecosystems and natural resources. Geographers work to understand the complex relationships between human societies and the environment, and to develop strategies for sustainable development.

Regions: Geography is concerned with the identification and analysis of regions, which are areas that share certain characteristics or features. Regions can be defined by physical, cultural, economic, or political boundaries, and are important for understanding the distribution of phenomena and for making comparisons between different areas.


These concepts are not mutually exclusive and often overlap, but they provide a framework for understanding the many sub-disciplines and areas of focus within geography.

How do teachers make primary geography relevant to the future?

There are several strategies that primary geography teachers can use to make the subject relevant to the future and to engage students in thinking about the role of geography in shaping the world around them. Here are a few ideas:

Connect geography to current events: Teachers can help students make connections between the geography they are learning and the events and issues that are happening in the world today. For example, a lesson on climate change could be linked to recent extreme weather events or news stories about rising sea levels.

Use real-world examples: Teachers can use examples from students' lives to make geography more relevant and engaging. For example, they might use maps of students' neighborhoods to teach concepts of scale and direction, or use images of different cultural practices to teach about diversity and cultural geography.


Highlight the importance of geography skills: Teachers can emphasize to students that the skills they are learning in geography class are important for their future careers and for understanding the world around them. For example, they might highlight how knowledge of geography is important for careers in fields like environmental science, international business, or urban planning.


Focus on sustainability: Teachers can use geography lessons to help students understand the importance of sustainability and to encourage them to think critically about how human actions impact the environment. Lessons on topics like renewable energy, waste management, and urban planning can help students think about how they can be part of a more sustainable future.


Use technology: Teachers can use technology to help students engage with geography in new and exciting ways. For example, they might use virtual field trips, interactive maps, or online simulations to help students explore different geographic concepts and to make the subject more interactive and engaging.


By using these strategies, primary geography teachers can help students see the relevance of geography to their lives and to the world around them, and inspire them to become more engaged and informed global citizens.

Does Geography teaching need to embrace climate change education?

Yes, geography teaching should embrace climate change education. Climate change is one of the most pressing and complex issues facing our planet, and it has significant implications for many areas of geography, including physical geography, human geography, and environmental geography. As such, it is important for geography teachers to incorporate climate change education into their lessons to help students understand the causes and consequences of climate change and to develop the skills and knowledge needed to address this global challenge.


Here are a few reasons why geography teaching should embrace climate change education:

Climate change is a key topic in geography: Climate change is a topic that spans multiple areas of geography, including physical geography (such as climate patterns and natural disasters), human geography (such as the impacts of climate change on human societies), and environmental geography (such as the effects of climate change on ecosystems). As such, it is a natural fit for geography education.

Climate change is a critical issue for the future: Climate change is a complex and urgent issue that will have significant implications for the future of our planet. By teaching students about climate change, geography teachers can help prepare them to be informed and engaged global citizens who are equipped to address this challenge.

Climate change education can inspire action: By teaching about climate change, geography teachers can help students understand the ways in which their own actions and choices can have an impact on the environment, and inspire them to take action to reduce their own carbon footprints and make positive changes in their communities.

Climate change education can foster interdisciplinary learning: Climate change education requires an interdisciplinary approach, as it spans multiple fields of study, including science, geography, economics, and social studies. By incorporating climate change education into geography teaching, teachers can help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills across multiple disciplines.


In short, climate change education is an essential component of geography teaching and should be incorporated into lessons to help students understand the complex and pressing issues facing our planet and to develop the skills and knowledge needed to address these challenges.


What is the future of geography teaching?

The future of geography teaching is likely to be shaped by several trends and developments in the field, including the increasing use of technology, the emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, and the growing recognition of the importance of global citizenship education. Here are a few potential directions for the future of geography teaching:


Digital and technological tools: The use of digital and technological tools in the classroom is likely to continue to grow, and geography teachers will increasingly incorporate interactive maps, virtual field trips, and other digital resources into their lessons. This will allow for more immersive and engaging learning experiences, and will help students develop critical digital literacy skills.


Interdisciplinary learning: Geography education is likely to become more interdisciplinary, with teachers incorporating concepts and skills from other fields of study, such as environmental science, economics, and social studies. This will help students see the connections between different disciplines and develop a more holistic understanding of the world around them.


Global citizenship education: There is a growing recognition of the importance of global citizenship education, which emphasizes the development of skills and knowledge needed to be responsible and informed global citizens. Geography teaching is well-positioned to contribute to this effort, as it provides a framework for understanding the complex relationships between human societies and the natural environment, and for developing a global perspective on key issues such as climate change, urbanization, and migration.


Emphasis on sustainability: With growing concern about environmental issues such as climate change and resource depletion, there is likely to be an increasing emphasis on sustainability in geography teaching. This may include lessons on topics such as renewable energy, green infrastructure, and sustainable urban planning, as well as the development of critical thinking skills to help students analyze and respond to complex sustainability challenges.


Focus on local and global issues: Geography teaching is likely to continue to emphasize both local and global issues, as students need to understand the relationships between their local communities and the broader global context. This may involve lessons on topics such as migration patterns, trade networks, and geopolitical conflicts, as well as on local environmental issues and social challenges.


In short, the future of geography teaching is likely to be shaped by a combination of technological, interdisciplinary, and global trends, as teachers seek to provide engaging, relevant, and meaningful learning experiences for their students.


How do young children learn Geography?

Young children can learn geography in a variety of ways, depending on their age, developmental stage, and learning style. Here are a few examples of how young children can learn geography:


Through exploration and play: Young children learn by exploring the world around them, and this includes their physical environment. By playing with maps, globes, and other tools, children can begin to develop an understanding of basic geography concepts, such as the locations of different countries, continents, and oceans. They can also learn about physical features, such as mountains, rivers, and lakes, by exploring them in nature or through models and visual aids.


Through stories and songs: Children love stories and songs, and these can be powerful tools for teaching geography. By reading books or singing songs about different parts of the world, children can begin to develop an understanding of different cultures, landmarks, and features. For example, a book about animals in Africa can help children learn about the continent's diverse ecosystems and wildlife.


Through guided activities: Teachers and parents can create guided activities that help children learn about different aspects of geography, such as making a map of their neighborhood, building a model of a famous landmark, or researching a country to learn about its culture and history. These activities can be hands-on and engaging and can help children develop critical thinking skills as they explore different concepts.

Through technology: Technology can be a useful tool for teaching geography, particularly for older children. Educational apps, online games, and virtual field trips can help children learn about different parts of the world and develop important skills, such as map reading and spatial awareness.

Through field trips: Field trips to local landmarks, natural areas, or cultural sites can be a powerful way for children to learn about geography in a real-world context. Seeing and experiencing different parts of the world can help children make connections between what they've learned in the classroom and the world around them.