Thursday, September 28, 2006

Geography: Dogma vs Desire

A familiar story.

AS part of a geography assignment studying the effects of pollution on the environment, a group of primary schoolchildren from Brisbane headed off to photograph the damage to Moreton Bay. But when they arrived, the waters of the bay were relatively pristine and there was no pollution to be seen.Undeterred, the children carefully set about creating their own polluted part of Moreton Bay, photographed it and just as carefully cleaned up the mess they had made.
Kids usually know what they're 'meant to say'. If that's the only only way to make the grade, then they'll say it. This article from The Australian is about Geography, its transformation into "studies of society and environment" and its corruption into a vehicle of transmission for the dogma of environmentalism. Far from teaching children what its proponents called "skills and knowledge in the integrated way they would need to apply them in the real world", it inculcates a view of the world without demanding the effort of attaining that view. They do not learn to sift evidence, to synthesise their raw material, to think. Why would they need to think when their teachers already know the truth and need just bang on about it enough so that no other point of view becomes possible.

Nonetheless, the human spirit is irrepressible.
He tells the story of students at a girls school where the "very feminist geography teacher" was appalled to find her students were using computers to identify where in Australia was the greatest concentration of young professional men with high incomes who owned their own home.

"That's where they wanted to go to university, so they could find wealthy husbands. The teacher was so appalled that she banned them from the computer room. We might not agree with the topic but these girls were using geography and geographical skills to find the answer to a question that was important to them."

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