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Valuing Places: Place Interconnectedness

‘Travel far enough, Joe used to say and all rules are suspended. Now Jay began to understand what he meant. Truth, loyalty, identity. The things which bind us to the places and faces of home no longer applied. He could be anyone going anywhere. At airports, railway stations, bus stations, anything is possible. No-one asks questions. People reach a state of near invisibility. He was just another passenger here, one of thousands. No-one would recognise him. No-one had ever heard of him’
Joanne Harris, Blackberry Wine, Black Swan, 2000

Valuing Places is against pupils being passengers in geography classrooms, disconnected from places. Valuing Places supports developing a learner’s sense of place which will help pupils to participate in their local and global environments. If the global is always represented as distant and disconnected then pupils will find it difficult to relate to.

Remember the pupil’s completed multiple identity sheet in the Geographical Imaginations section? This pupil had not connected with the global. There are, however, ways you can encourage pupils to consider this aspect of their lives.

Connecting with the global

First, consider this image for a moment and note down your immediate responses to it.

Now consider the image using a ‘What’s this got to do with me?’ scaffold.

How can this scaffold be used in the classroom?

On first viewing, the scaffold can be challenging to complete. Depending on the age and the learning maturity of your pupils you may wish to consider simplifying it. You can do this by using fewer scales and you may also wish to change the order of the scales.

Providing groups of pupils with the opportunity to work on a blank version of the scaffold collaboratively will allow them to develop their understanding through peer discussions.

This activity develops pupils’ understanding of the Geographical Lens of Scale as follows:

‘In the distant past, geography was only concerned with describing such uniqueness. Now, the educational power of geography lies in understanding the relationship between the unique outcomes in particular places and the universal processes that impact on all existence, no matter where in the world we are.

This is why good geography both allows and requires study on different scales – if we only studied the local, or only studied the global, this insight would be lost, together with the possibility of recognising the interconnections and interdependence between places. Such work also encourages the development of critical thinking and an ability to comprehend multiple perspectives.’
GA/DEA (2004) ‘Geography: The Global Dimension‘, GA/DEA, page 4

It also helps us to develop our knowledge of interconnectedness:

‘No longer do we think of place or region or nation as simply bounded territories with “external”, “essential” characteristics which somehow grew out of the soil. Rather we (or many of us) now lay stress on understanding the identity of place as the product also of its relations with elsewhere. We know we cannot understand the character of any place without setting it in the context of its relations with the world beyond. This is place as meeting place; different stories coming together and, to one degree or another, becoming entangled. This is the thrown togetherness of physical proximity. And it is even more marked in an age of globalisation. A global sense of place.’

Doreen Massey, GA Conference, 2001

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