The Power of Geography

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A-level Geography By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Geography » A-level Geography
Last updated: 11/10/2016
Tags: a-level geography, gcse geography, geography, importance of geography, power of geography

In 2012, Barack Obama made the (arguably) most memorable statement of his presidential career:-

“The study of Geography is about more than just memorising places on a map.  It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exist across continents.  And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.”

WOW!  This is so true – we, as Geographers know that the relevance of Geography cannot be underestimated. It is a practical subject that enables us to understand change, conflict and key issues which impact on our lives today and which affect our futures tomorrow.

The 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, The South Sudan crisis, Philippines earthquake, Hurricane Manuel in Mexico, the on-going Syrian conflict, the millions of migrants amongst many other events, have highlighted the relevance and importance of Geography as well as underlining changing climatic patterns and global warming.  Other examples such as the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, war and conflict in the Middle East, water shortages across The Sahel, famine, worldwide migration, complexities of world trade, globalisation and debt are just some geographical issues and challenges with which the world is faced. It is important for young people to have knowledge and understanding of the geographical issues concerning the world in which they live in and depend upon.

“It is important that the citizens of tomorrow understand the management of risk, appreciate diversity, are aware of environmental issues, promote sustainability and respect human rights and social inclusion” (David Bell, 2005)

Geography is about places (knowing and understanding their interdependence and connectivity), spaces (interactions between occupiers of space and the space itself), landscape (as a function of the physical forces that value it), systems (human, physical, political and environmental), understanding difference and recognising similarities and celebrating diversity. The breadth of the subject gives it its underlying structure and is its major strength. This should be embraced and celebrated, as Geography teaches us to look at the bigger picture, provides a bridge between the arts and the sciences and can appeal to all learners at some stage due to the opportunities to engage everyone from the most intra-personal to the most kinaesthetic of learners. 

Geography is not simply about content, it plays a large part in preparing students for life after school by equipping them with skills of enquiry, questioning (Why? What? Where? How? When? Who?), making up their own mind by developing skills of analysis, decision making, appreciation of a sense of place, identity of relationships and a passion for diversity in experience and culture developed through an awareness of societies and interactions between people and their environments.   It is about encouraging pupils to understand and engage with the world which will empower them to develop real global understanding and citizenship, thus becoming active and well-rounded active global citizens.

In summary, Geography:

  • Explores the relationship between the earth and its peoples, through the study of place, space and environment.
  • Seeks to develop a sense of place.

  • Describes the location of places.

  • Develops an awareness of space and spatial patterns.

  • Studies the environment, its resources and use or misuse.

  • Explores the relationships between people, physical features, human activities and environmental resources.

  • Asks the questions: What? Where? Why? When? Who? How?

  • Uses and stimulates pupils’ natural wish to know about their own surroundings.

  • Helps pupils to understand relationships between people and the world around them.

  • Aids understanding through active learning based on enquiry and fieldwork experiences.

  • Informs about the earth’s variety of natural and human conditions.

  • Fosters a sense of wonder at and empathy with the world.

  • Encourages an informed concern about the care of the earth and of its peoples.

  • Has links with most other subject areas.


Emma Williams A-level Geography Tutor (South East London)

About The Author

Hi, I am a dedicated and passionate teacher who has been teaching for over 10 years. I have taught and been Head of Geography departments in the UK, Singapore and Australia in both the public and private sector.




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