The Where will I live project (2005-06) brought together teachers of geography and citizenship to think about the housing market and the importance of design in creating good places to live. The result was a range of teaching resources that explored key concepts such as community, sustainability, design, place, geographical imagination and interconnectedness.
The question ‘Where Will I Live?’ appears to be straightforward. Yet our answer is informed by some of the biggest decisions that individuals make.
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the Geographical Association (GA) worked in partnership with teachers in East Lancashire and South Cambridgeshire to develop ‘Where Will I Live?’ as a unique curriculum development project.
The project booklet, published in 2006, provides an overview of the project:
What the students said about the project…
“… I now understand about Padiham. I used to think that it was just a town full of vandalism graffiti and litter but now I’ve learnt that there are some nicer areas in Padiham …”
“… I’ve learnt that if we all put our ideas together and discuss our choice, something good can happen and we can change it for the better …”
“… I understand the word ‘option’ more. It means a choice that we have to make between something …”
“… I think the best thing is when we look at maps and we say how the things on maps affect the sustainability of a community so you see a shop and then you’d see a shop on the map and you would write about how that affects a place and what would happen if it wasn’t there. And you point out all of the negative things and all of the positive things. I think that that helps you as you look at different maps and you’d be able to point out similar things …”
What the teachers said about the project
“… We enjoyed the opportunities presented by geography and citizenship teachers working in collaboration and learning from each other …”
“… The project enabled us to have more time to consider students views and experiences. This has helped us to develop the skills of evaluation and synthesis …”
“… The project has helped me to reflect on how I could use topical, local and national issues in my teaching more …”
“… Having the time for critical reflection enabled me to consider the real core value of teaching geography. This is sometimes glossed over when you are in the mad dash of the school year …”
The geography that informed our project
“… In human terms (places) are the entanglement, the meeting up, of different histories, many of them without previous connection to others. I live in a second floor flat: there are two flats below mine. The occupants of these three dwelling spaces arrived here, in this building now, from very different directions. But here we are, and now we must manage to live together to get along. The area of the city in which I live replicates this on a larger scale, and one way of imagining whole cities is indeed as massively complex meeting places of difference. (This difference does not have to be dramatic, nor ethically defined for instance. We are each of us different).
The point is that ‘places’ from a house of flats to a whole city, in consequence require negotiation (our emphasis). On a daily basis, and in a hundred unremarkable ways, we manage to live together, to negotiate our difference. Or sometimes we do; sometimes there are chasms of inequality and/or incomprehension; there may be violence and confrontation …”
Taken from Doreen Massey’s ‘The geographical mind’ in the GA’s Secondary Geography Handbook. You can now download Doreen Massey’s chapter about the geographical mind from the Secondary Geography Handbook for free. Download Chapter