Tag Archives: learning

Avenues (The World School): the road to a global geography of education?

by Fiona Ferbrache

learningAs I walk by my former primary school on a Tuesday early morning, the current pupils must be gathered in assembly for I can hear the School hymn.  Schooled in Guernsey, I studied the Bailiwick of Guernsey’s Curriculum and my education was embedded, to a large extent, in local Island (one might say national) context.

‘National’ or ‘state’ level schools tend to be considered as mainstream organisations for learning (Kraftl 2012).  They teach about the world beyond their state borders, but rarely embed themselves internationally.  This point is made by the team behind Avenues: an alternative educational establishment based in New York.

Avenues, subtitled ‘The World School’, opened its first campus in September 2012.  It is envisaged that this international school will expand to include more than 20 campuses around the globe, in places such as Singapore, London, Paris, Mumbai and São Paulo.  When this integrated global learning community is established, students will be able to take advantage of a singular leaning system to spend short periods at different campuses around the world.  This physical mobility is part of the essential criteria through which Avenues aims to “prepare students for global life”.

With its global philosophy, perhaps Avenues could be conceived as a form of education beyond the mainstream (this is not an unusual perspective in current media articles on the school).  If so, then it contributes to what Kraftl (2012:1) calls “geographies of ‘alternative’ education”.  While Kraftl’s focus remains on UK-based homeschooling, and draws upon themes of emotion and affect, and family and home, his article clearly demonstrates some of the political, social and academic values associated with alternative sites for learning.

Could we see Avenues and its potential global networks analysed in geographies of education at some point in the future?

60-world2  Avenues: The World School

60-world2  Education: Move Over Dalton. The Economist (online). 01 September 2012

books_icon  Collins D and Coleman T (2008) Social geographies of education: looking within, and beyond, school boundaries Geography Compass 2 281–99

books_icon  Kraftl, P. (2012) Towards geographies of ‘alternative’ education: a case study of UK home schooling families. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00536.x

60-world2  World class: a superschool for the global age. The Telegraph (online). 04 February 2013

RGS-IBG New Content Alert: Early View Articles (16th June 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Visualising postcode data for urban analysis and planning: the Amsterdam City Monitor
Karin Pfeffer, Marinus C Deurloo and Els M Veldhuizen
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01096.x

Changing countries, changing climates: achieving thermal comfort through adaptation in everyday activities
Sara Fuller and Harriet Bulkeley
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01105.x

Rethinking community and public space from the margins: a study of community libraries in Bangalore’s slums
Ajit K Pyati and Ahmad M Kamal
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01100.x

Practising workplace geographies: embodied labour as method in human geography
Chris McMorran
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01101.x

Original Articles

Muslim geographies, violence and the antinomies of community in eastern Sri Lanka
Shahul Hasbullah and Benedikt Korf
Article first published online: 11 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00470.x

Characterising urban sprawl on a local scale with accessibility measures
Jungyul Sohn, Songhyun Choi, Rebecca Lewis and Gerrit Knaap
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00468.x

The geodemographics of access and participation in Geography
Alex D Singleton
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00467.x

Original Articles

Towards geographies of ‘alternative’ education: a case study of UK home schooling families
Peter Kraftl
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00536.x

Boundary Crossings

Geographies of environmental restoration: a human geography critique of restored nature
Laura Smith
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00537.x

A policymaker’s puzzle, or how to cross the boundary from agent-based model to land-use policymaking?
Nick Green
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00532.x

Area Content Alert: Volume 44, Issue 1 (March 2012)

The latest issue of Area is available on Wiley Online Library.

Click past the break to view the full table of contents.

Continue reading

Fieldwork as Learning and Bonding in the Great Outdoors: a lesson to be taken to Everest

by Fiona Ferbrache

“Fieldwork is an integral component of the geography degree” (Fuller, 2011:1).

The above quotation comes from an early view Area paper analysing the role of residential and non-residential fieldwork in geographical education.  The paper argues that the outdoors has much to offer in the process of learning and enhancing geographical knowledge.  It also touches on what many of us have experienced: the beneficial integration between students that working together in real world settings can evoke.  While discussing the advantages of “taking students outdoors to learn in high places”, Fuller advises: “care is required to maximise its potential” (p.1).

Fuller’s reference to “high places” (defined in terms of altitude and geographical value), links to a recent project undertaken at Mount Everest’s Base Camp.  Sociologists, Tumbat and Belk (Science Daily, 2010), undertook an ethnographic study of commercialised climbing expeditions and interviewed clients paying for the experience of climbing Mount Everest.  Their findings indicate that Base Camp can be characterised by extreme selfishness, competitiveness and power-seeking behaviour, which the researchers link to consumer behaviour and the marketplace.  This contrasts with many outdoor activities that report communitarian spirit and camaraderie among those taking part.  This perhaps supports Fuller’s argument that care is required to maximise the potential of extraordinary experiences for, as he notes, learning and experiencing together outdoors can provide “the glue which bonds together a student cohort” (Fuller, 2011:2).

Fuller, I.C. (2011) Taking students outdoors to learn in high places. Area (forthcoming)

Science Daily (2010) Climbing Mount Everest: Noble Adventure or Selfish Pursuit? 22 December, 2010 [online]

Learning for food

I-Hsien Porter

Global climate change is likely to cause significant changes, or at least greater uncertainty, in human lifestyles. One vulnerable area of our relationship with the environment is food production.

The BBC recently reported that over the past 25 years, rice yields in Asia have fallen 10 – 20% in response to rising temperatures. This trend is expected to continue. Meanwhile, a summer heatwave (a relatively short-term climatic event) has caused the Russian government to ban the export of wheat, with far-reaching impacts for food prices. In this light, some might be concerned for future food security.

However, many small-scale farmers in the Global South have been dealing with adverse climatic conditions and resource scarcity for decades. In a recent paper in Geographical Journal, Lindsay Stringer and others look to these groups to inform countries in the Global North, which are now facing similar challenges.

Many of the strategies employed by farmers in developing countries were specific to particular places, so had limited transferability to other contexts. As a result, Stringer et al. looked at the process-related aspects of farmer’s experiences, rather than those rooted in place.

Farmers who were faced with adversity were found to have much greater political awareness (e.g. of trade agreements). Those responsible for food production in the developed world could learn from the way that other actors have influenced food and farming policies.

Redefining the traditional North-to-South flow of knowledge into a two-way exchange generates a much larger pool of ideas to mitigate and cope with pressures on food production.

“Rice yields to “fall” under global warming”, BBC News, 9th August 2010

Stringer et al. (2008) “Learning from the South: common challenges and solutions for small-scale farming” Geographical Journal 174(3): 235-250

Curiosity: the Geographer’s tool

by Fiona Ferbrache

Had you been crossing the English Channel on Friday May 28th, a curious site would have met your eyes – a pilot floating beneath an enormous multi-coloured bunch of balloons.  Entering the record book as the first cross-channel cluster-balloonist, Jonathan Trappe took four hours to fly from Ashford in Kent to his landing ground in a French cabbage field.  Having made a 109-mile flight of this mode before, Mr Trappe turned his curiosity into reality and is quoted for claiming “Didn’t you have this dream – grabbing on to a bunch of toy balloons and floating off?”

I am envious of this curiosity-driven courage and spirit of adventure, and am reminded of reading a forthcoming article by Richard Phillips in TIBG about geographies of curiosity.  Phillips explores how curiosity can be cultivated better and argues that places, particularly universities, “should be refashioned as spaces in which the spirit of adventure thrives” and “in which people feel able to take risks and learn freely”.  He further suggests that academics commend research that openly admits to being driven by personal interest or emotion, and not wrapping it up in objective language of rationality.  Excluding the passions which inspire our research is just one of the ‘enemies of curiosity’ Phillips explores in this more unusual paper.  The enterprising spirit captured in the article, for openly seeking to encounter the unknown, is something that Trappe achieves and something that Phillips believes geographers have much to contribute to.

The Telegraph, 28 May 2010  Adventurer crosses English Channel using helium balloons

Jonathan Trappe (2010) www.clusterballoon.com

Phillips, R. (2010)  The impact agenda and geographies of curiosity Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Forthcoming

Importance of fieldwork in Geography

Fieldwork in Norway

By Kelly Wakefield

One of the unique attributes that Geography has as a discipline is fieldwork.  UK students taking GCSE Geography will more than likely participate in some form of fieldwork as well as those studying A Level Geography.  At HE level the possibilities of where in the world the course you have chosen will take you is endless.  The position of fieldwork and its clear role as a basic principle of the geographical educational experience is discussed by Claire Herrick in her article ‘Lost in the field: ensuring student learning in the ‘threatened’ geography fieldtrip’ (Area, 2010).

Previous education literature has discussed the pedagogical importance of fieldwork and field trips whilst scrutinising its viability.  Herrick suggests that fieldwork can inspire a deep approach to learning and provide formative experiences.  However, strategies such as value for money and the lure of exotic fieldwork can sometimes diminish the initial pedagogical reasons for participating in the fieldwork.  In examining another area of education literature, a commentary by Tim Hall and Mick Healey entitled ‘Disabled students’ experiences of fieldwork’ (Area, 2005) highlights the importance of understanding all students needs whilst on fieldwork.  Both of these articles reinforce the importance of addressing which pedagogical approach is taken on fieldwork as well as the fantastic experience that geographic fieldwork can be.

‘Lost in the field: ensuring student learning in the ‘threatened’ geography fieldtrip.  Area (2010) 42, 1, p108-116

Disabled students’ experiences of fieldwork. Area (2005) 37, 4, p446-449