National Curriculum in Geography

Hi   all,

On Tuesday I was invited to a meeting by ACARA to look at and evaluate an Advice Paper for the National Geography Curriculum.

It was a document that was “not for wider distribution” and the meeting was described as the “starting of a conversation”. It was a really worthwhile experience and I am grateful that I was asked to be involved.

I would like to  say more but will allow due process take is course.  I feel this is a good approach because there were a few things that were picked up that will be acted on before the  ideas go to the next level of consultation.

The next step is  the re drafting of the Advice Paper and then a Shape Paper will be written.  This paper will provide the guidelines for the curriculum writers.

Below are the notes that I took.  I have  not made any analysis or offered my opinion.  I will do this  later when the broader consultation takes place. There is nothing there that is confidential in terms of detail coming from the paper – it is purely based on my note taking during conversations.   I have found a lot of the information referred to on the ACARA site. There is a summary of the  key presenters and a table reflecting the panel work on strengths, weaknesses and one question for the panel from each of the twenty working groups.

If anyone involved in the process has any issue with my notes please let me know and I will modify or remove them from my blog post.

ACARA Geography Initial Advice Paper

27 April 2010 Grace Hotel Sydney


Peter Hill Executive Director ACARA

Change forces are in operation

  • Globalisation – social, cultural, economic, technological and education the key
  • How schools construct the curriculum is up to schools – it might not be in  subject areas
  • Scale local, regional and global
  • Preparation for 21 century life
  • Practically grounded subjects
  • 10 General capabilities – literacy, numeracy, ICT, thinking skills, creativity, self management, teamwork, intercultural understanding, ethical behaviour, and Cross Curriculum dimensions

Rob Randall General Manager Curriculum ACARA

  • Work with Curriculum Certification Authorities, Professional Associations Universities, Government bodies and community
  • ACARA Board 13 members Chair Barry McGraw Deputy Tony Mackay
  • Steps
    • Melbourne Declaration 2007
    • Advice Papers
    • Shape Papers
    • Curriculum Writers
    • Phases
      • Phase 1 English, Maths, Science, History
      • Phase2  Geography Languages and Arts
      • Phase3  D and T, Health and Physical Education, ICT, Economics, Business and Civics and Citizenship
        • Overlap as they evolve
        • Definition of content includes
          • Knowledge
          • Skills
          • Understanding
          • Agency?? – not included

Associate Professor Alaric Maude – writer

  • Key considerations
    • Time allocation
    • Balance human and physical
    • Distinct contribution to geography of young people
    • Definition of environment
    • Topical and future focused
    • Skills and fieldwork
    • Place of spatial technologies and thinking
    • Global perspective
    • Want a coherent and well structured discipline
    • Need a narrative to sell to principals, community and politicians
    • Definition of physical and human is inclusive of varied  interpretations
      • Place
      • Space
      • Environment
        • The word spatial does not exist – will come later
        • Aims
          • Definitions
          • Balance between knowledge and geographical inquiry
          • New material to curriculum
          • Interest and engage students
            • Progressive development of knowledge and skills
            • Reduce repetition
            • Curriculum you can turn into questions and puzzles
            • Connect to lifestyles and futures
            • Use young people’s geography see Living Geography UK book
            • Apply what is happening to the world around them

Questions and  Answers

Strengths Weakness Questions
  • Scales of the curriculum
  • Sustainability
  • Clear and comprehensive PD
  • Suitable expectations
  • Ethical citizens
  • Inquiry methodology
  • Spatial technologies
  • Primary endorsed a lot
  • Accessible to different stakeholders
  • Strong sequencing of content
  • Aims good
  • Fieldwork emphasis human and physical integration
  • flexibility
  • Document written it seems by three people – appears disjointed
  • Scope and sequence consistency
  • Aims don’t match up to content
  • Geographical inquiry not developed
  • Senior content to develop more
  • Cross curriculum do not follow through
  • More spatial technologies
  • Critical of page 18 – 8 units of work and spatial and environmental
  • Skills sets for geography
  • Too much Australian and economic  geography
  • Three cross curriculum not followed through
  • Lot of concern over Years 11 and 12 – grab bag of things
  • SGP type task in Year 10
  • Fatigue factor – too much gloom and doom
  • Balance between physical and human
  • Use of inquiry skills inconsistent
  • Clear up geographical skills and geographical inquiry
  • Simplify language for non geographers
  • Mapping of curriculums
  • Why three cross curriculum dimensions
  • How will senior course be assessed
  • Australia, Asia and Global incorpation in the document
  • Will unit structure in senior course be retained – yes
  • Links to science and maths – environmental and location
  • Life of the curriculum
  • Strategy – concepts aligned and point to year levels across the curriculum
  • How to overcome fatigue and where will the good geography teachers come from
  • Revisit the definition of the hours of geography
  • How will geography relate to Social Sciences and other KLAs
  • Extension course
  • Senior academic and vocational track
  • Why over emphasis on  environment and sustainability
  • Primary integrated and senior not – disconnect
  • Will there be flexibility of choice in  year 11 – 12

Alaric Maude Response

  • Work out a balance some said too much sustainability others said not enough
  • Doom and gloom trend he is aware of and have to manage
  • Need positive examples of what is working
  • Not enough application – agency
  • Not enough about skills – they are sketched in and will be developed at the curriculum writing stage
  • Need skills for the future
  • P18 acknowledged Senior not good
  • Place ,  space and environment provide the structure – open to suggestions on other models
  • On the balance between the physical and human
    • Tried not to separate them
    • Actually believes there is more human than physical

Rob Randall Response

  • Reflection
  • Affirmation of the work that has been done
  • Not yet a curriculum it is an advice paper
  • Where are your perspectives and thoughts come from .  We need to get beyond these
  • Focus is why is it important to young people. Apply choice theory you have to reduce things by one third – what do you cut out?
  • Mapping – was done with Phase 1 and will happen with all phases
  • Cross Curriculum content balance. There will be a scope and sequence for each and each general capability. Not scattered but where appropriate for teaching and learning
  • Life of the curriculum.  Because it is online when it is released it will be monitored and modified if there are major trend changes .  Won’t be ever couple of months.  Build in capacity for feedback
  • Links to maths science etc.  Alaric is advised and is doing this
  • Can we increase the hours ? No basis for wanting them.  History have one more hour in Years 7-8 because it was mandated by Minister  as more important.
  • Integrated. -Paper is integrated.  Focus what do we want young people to learn
  • Extension .  No – It is a curriculum for learning for all.  Should be built in anyway
  • Senior Geography.  4 units will be retained – it is a broad model that has been put out
  • Assessment – First we are doing content- Next we are doing the achievement standards.  How you will assess student learning will vary
  • This is the start of a conversation

Cheers MArtin


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