Where you live directly affects the place that you have chosen (how many choices did you have?) and the place directly affects you and your subsequent decisions (some big, some small) related to many issues as you go about your daily life.
Have a go at answering Doreen Massey’s question: ‘Where would you draw a line around your daily life?’
Many find this intriguing. It involves thinking about connections and interconnections, and leads us to consider the power of place. For example:
- Can our decisions change places?
- Does the structure of places lead us into making certain choices rather than others?
- Are these choices sustainable?
- What are the intentional and unintentional consequences?
- What is the impact of our decisions on the places and spaces (not just the near) that we connect with?
- Can you find the global in the local?
These are just some of the ideas that teachers in East Lancashire and South Cambridgeshire wrestled with as they explored the contribution that geography can make. Working alongside citizenship teachers, these groups supported young people’s understanding of housing market issues.
Generally, students do have a grasp of different types and distributions of houses, but their knowledge and understanding of the way that the housing market operates and of regional differences in priority is less well developed. The ‘Where will I live?’ project attempted to tackle such issues and explore ways to encourage young people to imagine better futures around the organising concept of ‘sustainable community’.
Housing market and planning issues are significant aspects of living in the UK today with a growing need for houses and important areas for pupils to engage with through geography and citizenship. Geography education emphasises the significance and interconnection of places. Thinking geographically fosters pupils’ critical and informed thinking rather than the passive acceptance of a description of the status quo.
The planning process goes to the heart of many of the issues that determine the question of what citizenship is. Public engagement in the planning process is a statutory requirement and any citizen has a right to express a view on any development. If this right is exercised responsibly and through an informed understanding of the geographical and design issues, the active citizen can make a real difference to his or her own community, improving quality of life through improving the quality of design.
Geography classrooms help prepare pupils for such public engagement, and demonstrate their current and potential role in informing, and being, decision takers.
Many of the following activities engage pupils in small group work. This involves them in the social skills of speaking, listening and reasoning in a geographical context. They will practice using appropriate geographical terminology and contextualising their spatial understandings in real places.
Pupils will learn to:
- reflect on their own geographical thinking and values
- appreciate how and why different people hold different views about recycling
- express their own views and begin to suggest geographical questions relevant to housing market issues and needs
- communicate through speaking and listening, using geographical information used to inform views about recycling and sustainable development