Geography teachers are some of the most passionate people I have met!

From my previous post, some of you might know that I attended the Australia Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) national conference in Adelaide a little while ago. At the beautiful Scotch College a gathering of over 240 geography teachers from around Australia listened to some really interesting keynote speakers and attended a wide range of workshops which investigated teaching Geography in Australia.

The first keynote I listened to was Dr Peter Hill, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Dr Hill talked about some of the dynamics and challenges of shaping a 21st century curriculum, about how you need to achieve a national, regional and global focus so that the curriculum which is developed for our schools has a clear line of sight from classroom through to university and beyond. This is something that really struck a chord and I did some further investigation and found this website myfuture.gov.au  – it has this great poster which shows you the diverse range of careers which are directly related to the study of Geography!

If I think back (some time ago) to when I was choosing my year 11 and 12 subjects I can say honestly that I remember the painstaking process of ensuring that the subjects I was choosing to study were matched to my “required units” for my preferred university course. It’s tough, making a decision around school subjects that could shape where you end up in your professional life. Looking at the poster above shows just how many careers are linked to the study of Geography.

Being immersed in the GIS industry which is founded upon the study of geography I wonder if we sometimes forget how interesting, important but how often an under sold subject, geography can be in schools. As Dr Hill pointed out “…thinking spatially is something the modern 21st century geographer does everyday to do everyday things…” Geography doesn’t necessarily get the same kudos as maths and chemistry but yet it is just as pivotal to so many careers.

So it was great to sit in a room full of passionate geography teachers who just love the subject! “Geography leads to really great careers… our challenges as educators is to tell students this and to engage them along the way…”says Dr Hill.

For example take a look at this TED talk from Bill Davenhall and how geography or your place history could affect your medical diagnosis and treatment.

It got me to thinking, if you wanted to introduce GIS and maps to students who had never heard of GIS before, how would you start?

Well I thought what about ArcGIS Explorer Online?

The maps on Explorer Online are real world examples of how geography and location influences our everyday lives and importantly how those working in the field of GIS and geography related profession can make a difference.

Have you seen the maps which represent the Gulf Oil Spill over time? Or those that assisted the emergency management response for the Queensland Floods or Cyclone Yasi? These mapping applications are all examples of how geography matters… and if you are a teacher a great way to introduce your students to GIS and mapping.

Bye for now

Kate R

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