My Top Ten Geography Films

As I have previously stated in my blog and from my article for Sec-Ed, films are a fantastic way in which to engage young learners. For interest (and a bit of fun!) I have complied together my ‘Top Ten’ Geography related films. This first appeared in my article Learning from Films in April 2009 for Sec-Ed.

  • Slumdog Millionaire – life in within the shanty towns of Mumbai
  • Brassed Off – industrial decline in the UK
  • The Day After Tomorrow – climate change has never been this traumatic!
  • City of God – the daily lives of young people in the favelas of Rio
  • Twister – the formation and impact of a twister
  • There Will Be Blood – industrial growth of a more economically developed country
  • Dante’s Peak – shows most of the features of a volcano
  • Lawrence of Arabia – illustrates desert features
  • Kes – life in 1960s Britain
  • The Full Monty – industrial decline within the UK

Q. What would be in your Top Ten Films for your subject? I look forward to hearing from you.

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Learning from Films

It was not long into my education career as a teacher that I started to realise the importance and usefulness of film in my lessons. I had always been using documentaries and footage from DVDs and videos in my lessons but I had not realised what films could offer. It got my mind racing on different aspects of films that could be shown to pupils within different subject areas. I soon realised that films could enhance and develop a pupils learning and encourage them to be life long learners.

In April 2009 I wrote an article for Sec-Ed regarding the usefulness of films in education called Learning from Films. I have used films in the classroom and have found they have a lasting impression on a young students mind. Films are a successful way of engaging and stimulating young people.

Films can enhance a lesson and excite a young mind with their powerful and thought provoking subject matter. Dr. Pietari Kaapa of the University of Nottingham has stated that, “cinema as both a popular form of entertainment and a means of artistic and political expression, is a crucial area of classroom teaching. The pedagogical potential of film provides an immediate and invigorating addition to established lesson plans, while the history of the medium and its contextual socio-cultural relevance function as sources of study in their own right.”

As a Geography Teacher I have used a wide variety of different films to help show and back up key terminology or sometimes complex geographical features. The world today has created a generation of young people with very active minds. The days of a teacher in a classroom talking for 50 minutes are long gone and would not generate much enthusiasm from today’s young learners. Interaction and variety is what is needed to engage learners and film is one medium that can grip a young person’s attention. Film can enthuse and generate much debate and help a learner.

Pupils are requested to use and take part in different types of media within their learning from the National Curriculum. Films like music should be encouraged to be used within the classroom. Nick Hargreaves of Radipole Primary School in Weymouth, Dorset, believes that ‘‘films are a really valid text as much as books. With the National Curriculum we have to look at various types of media within a child’s learning and film is one way. Films are not always easy to understand and it does take time sometimes for a young learner to fully understand the complexities of a film like the music changing in relation to the mood of the film.’’ As we are aware there are three types of learners; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. A film is one medium that incorporates all three learning styles and can hold the attention and pass on knowledge and understanding to all three main learning styles.  Nick Hargreaves says ‘film takes into account how a learner learns…it attracts the three main types of learners and engages all of them in one sitting. It reaches out to all target levels especially boys’.

It is not only watching films but using/making films within a lesson. This is sometimes difficult to do with budgets and time constraints but can be a worthwhile exercise. Young people like to be more involved in classes and using digital film recorders is one way. Pupils should be encouraged to produce news reports, presentations or stop motion modelling to help their knowledge and understanding. The technology and resources are out there and we as teachers must start to use them for the benefit of our pupils and ourselves as practitioners.

It may be uncomfortable for some of us to film ourselves in a lesson and to watch our mannerisms but would it further develop ourselves as teachers? I think the answer would be yes and should be encouraged with any teacher new or old. Filiming ourselves could be way of encourging our own development as teachers.

I remember reading Great Expectations at school and found watching the David Lean adaption a much needed guiding hand when it came to revising for the GCSE. A film may not always be true or correct, but in the right hands, us as teachers, we can filter out the bad and use the great pieces of film there is out there waiting to be used.

How Earth Made Us

Great news for fans of Professor Iain Stewart’s television programmes as he is back!  The press release for the new series is as follows; ‘following on from Earth: The Power Of The Planet, geologist and presenter Professor Iain Stewart returns to BBC Two to continue the epic story of the relationship between human civilisation and Earth.’

How Earth Made Us explores how geology, geography and climate have influenced and continue to shape human history. Each episode examines a different force, including the effects of deep earth, wind, fire and water. The series concludes with a look at how the human race has become a geological force in its own right.’

‘Travelling to some of the most iconic locations on the planet, Iain Stewart discovers how the river Nile caused Egypt to dominate the ancient world, how the break up of a super-continent 200 million years ago shaped an energy revolution, and how wind changed the history of China and Australia.’

I am a big fan of his previous programmes for the BBC. Iain Stewart is a Lecturer in Geology in the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth (my old University). The new series starts on Tuesday 19th January at 21.00. Happy viewing!

Blogging on the Blogosphere

Since I started writing my blog last Monday I have received many positive comments from colleagues, friends, and fellow teachers across the world. I would like to thank all of you for reading my blog and I hope it is useful and of interest. The early success of my blog has taken me by surprise and I hope it continues!

Alan Parkinson of the Geographical Association left a great comment on my blog. Alan has his own blog on all aspects geography which is updated daily. I have only started reading this blog this week and thoroughly recommend it to all geography teachers. The blog is current, up to date and very interesting. He has some fantastic resources and ideas on his site. I have also found out he is very good friends with Ollie Bray

My very good friend Ollie Bray wrote a lovely piece about my blog this week. Ollie and I have been friends for many years since studying geography together at the University of Plymouth. I have been a big fan of Ollie’s blog ever since he started writing it. Ollie’s blog is extremely informative and up to date on the educational developments and new technologies that come out. Ollie is the National Adviser for Learning and Technology Futures at Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS). He is a brilliant innovative teacher with fantastic ideas.

Ollie and myself have had many adventures over the years – all of which are true!

The Big Chill

Like many teachers, I have found myself working from home today with the snow causing many schools to close. From my house in Hampshire, the snow fall has not stopped and certainly does not seem to be easing off. It has so far reached a depth of seven inches in my front garden! This is incredible and from watching and reading the weather reports it certainly will be around for a little bit longer. The BBC has announced this is the worst weather conditions that Britain has faced since 1981.

The Met Office website has been brilliant for up to date weather reports and has some fantastic free educational weather resources available. These might be very useful in explaining the current cold snap to our students when we finally return.

Be careful on those roads over the next few days!

Choose Life…Choose Geography!

Recent press coverage has put geography, my subject, under the spotlight. It is apparent that geography has entered into the fight for its very survival as a curriculum subject. As a Head of Geography in Dorset, I am extremely passionate about a subject that has always been close to my heart. Through geography I have become a voice, a living soul for the planet through which it can teach us about itself and us as its inhabitants.

My argument maybe slightly biased being a geographer but it is still a valid one. Geography is more important today than every before in today’s uncertain times. When I was at school I was taught by some inspirational teachers like my old Geography teacher Graham Currie. I was transfixed by the awe and wonder of our planet from the amazing landforms of glaciation, the climatic changes on the earth; how people brace themselves against a sometimes cruel world…Geography has always been a fascinating subject.

Every time I pick up a newspaper or browse other peoples’ blogs I see current issues that need to be taught and explained in full.  If those in a position of authority do not see the importance of climate change and sustainability in the world, I am slightly concerned for the future.

From the recent news coverage there seems to be a policy of educational change. Change can be good. Change can bring many benefits to teachers and students alike. Changes to the curriculum do need to be made but not to the deterrent of several subjects.

Young people need to become global citizens and encouraged to learn about their local area, their county, their country and about the world. Geography has for sometime been losing its position of importance. In KS3, 4 and 5 elements of geography are taught in other subject areas especially science.  With science as a core subject where is geography’s place? We need to define geography as a subject in its own right. The importance of geography needs to be made clear by the Department of Education. We need to reclaim our topics and rebrand ourselves as a twenty-first century subject.

With the planned changes from the Rose Report, History, Geography and Religious Studies would come under the banner of human, social and environmental understanding. The argument is that not having them as distinct subjects would allow teachers to introduce them in other parts of the curriculum. This sounds an interesting idea and provides much scope for Primary Teachers. But are we not doing a variation of this already? Currently in my Department we incorporate literacy, maths and ICT with great success into our lessons. Geography is lucky to be a versatile subject and can be linked fairly easily with other curriculum areas. Like a chaperone we can provide other subjects with a variety of different approaches to teaching a topic.  This gives us as teachers many opportunities to experiment and link up with curriculum areas. Geography could be the catalyst and not the problem in a sometimes packed curriculum.

With the introduction of examination league tables Schools are judged on results for better or for worse. As a subject leader I come under scrutiny for our geography results. With the proposed changes geography will be taught far less than it is today in Primary Schools and therefore results will slowly decrease over time at GCSE. If you are being assessed in a subject then I think you should be taught that subject. I feel Ed Balls and his colleagues are stabbing a good quality subject in the back and are not thinking of the ‘bigger picture’. As Julius Caesar once said, ‘Et tu brute?’

With an ever-changing world geography must be at the forefront of educational thought. Being versatile, experimental, and very much of today it should be leading the future of education. As a teacher I have worked in several forward thinking schools where opportunities to attempt new ideas were welcomed. I am very lucky in this respect. I have been fortunate to have witnessed great teaching in my seven years as a teacher.

We do have the resources, we do have the expertise, we do have the knowledge, and we can change geography for the future. But without the right backing I sadly see a curriculum lacking in vision and failing to provide the future generation the right knowledge to tackle it. All I ask is that our Ministers and Education Authorities stop and think. They must speak to the teachers in Primary, Middle and Secondary Schools. They have to find out how these changes will impact on a child’s learning.

Finally, as teachers we need to love geography and appreciate its right in education. Geography deserves its place on the curriculum and it is a subject of the 21st Century. I was given the chance to love geography by Mr Currie all those years ago and children should be given the chance to love the subject too.

Welcome to miketidd.com

My name is Mike Tidd and I am Head of Geography at Gillingham School in Dorset. I have been a teacher for most of my working life and I immensely enjoy my role as a teacher. I have a deep interest in education developments and I am motivated to help fellow practitioners and young people to achieve their potential.

Over the last few years I have watched colleagues and friends write their own blogs with much interest and delight. I have seen the response these have received and how people can work collaboratively together to make a difference. It has finally come to that moment where I have decided to join the ‘conversation’.

My website will be focusing primarily on education within the UK. I shall be writing about new education developments, geography as a leading subject and how new technologies may have a role to play in education.

I look forward to your future comments from what I blog about.

I wish you all a successful 2010!