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Where Will I Live? Key Concepts and Big Ideas

Sustainable Communities
Reasoning With Maps
Geographical Imaginations
Geographical Communication

Why use concepts and big ideas?

The Where Will I Live? project emphasised conceptual learning. Concepts help students to organise and retain important ideas and skills in a discipline. They provide coherence.

The use of concepts in curriculum planning enables teachers to be more selective about what they teach. The breadth of study (coverage) is important but many topics and places exemplify the same concepts and conceptual understanding. Good teaching involves making informed judgements about the selection of places and geographical processes to be explored. These should be engaging, relevant, real and appropriate to local circumstances.

Students frequently admire teachers who ‘know their stuff’. What this means is far more than a set of ‘facts’. The way that an effective teacher makes a particular topic accessible to the pupils and enables them to progress often relies on their having a good grasp of the architecture of the subject, its key concepts and big ideas. You can’t mug this up the night before the lesson. These are the concepts and ideas that are used to create the discipline’s big picture. They are essential to effective teaching, but until recently have often been implicit. Teachers who make these concepts transparent to their students help them to think geographically and to develop transferable geographical understanding. They take their students beyond learning a set of dislocated facts and move them into the realms of informed thinking.

The document below goes into further detail about why using concepts is significant, teaching for understanding, planning using concepts and the eight key concepts and big ideas explored by the Where Will I Live? project:

Key Concepts and Big Ideas

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