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Publication Detail
Geography Education (K-12)
Geography education here means the role and purposes of geography in primary and secondary education (we are not concerned here with the geographies of education). In other words, we are concerned mainly with the educational provision deemed appropriate for the vast majority of children and young people in state-mandated education systems and the contribution geography make to this. From the start, we must acknowledge that it is extremely hazardous to make generalizations regarding these matters across different national and state jurisdictions. Some countries have strong centralized national curriculums with tight controls through state-approved textbooks (e.g., Iran) or high stakes, national inspection systems (e.g., England), while other countries organize education federally (e.g., Germany, United States), often with strong preferences for local control (e.g., Sweden, Finland). In some countries, geography in school is aligned with the sciences (e.g., Finland, where geography teachers usually also teach biology), whereas in others geography is considered to be in the social sciences (as in most of the United States, Japan), and in others it is classified as one of the humanities (as in the United Kingdom). The visibility of geography in schools also varies enormously, with some jurisdictions favoring specialist subject teaching (usually in the secondary phase), while others support more integrated and/or competence-based approaches to the curriculum. We should also note that none of these characteristics is necessarily stable. Education has become highly politicized, as it is often linked closely with economic performance and global competitiveness; thus, for example, countries regularly review curriculum arrangements. Scholarly work and research in geography education is similarly fractured and is, in any case, a relatively small field. International meetings take place under the auspices of the International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education (IGU-CGE), regional networks such as Eurogeo and SEAGA, and the annual meetings of learned societies such as the American Association of Geographers and the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). In many countries there are also subject associations (that serve mainly the interests and needs of school teachers) such as the Geographical Association in England, which is one of the oldest (established 1893) and largest (c. 6,000 memberships). In view of these introductory comments, it needs to be acknowledged that although the sources in this article on geography education are international in scope, it is impossible to provide equally for the diversity noted in this introduction. Researchers will find articles, resources, and handbooks in their local jurisdictions to supplement those found here.
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