At a recent IEB conference, the speaker, Mr Simon Gear, commented that “Geographers are the superheroes of the 21st Century: they are the ones who will save the world!” ( Simon Gear, 2013)
Gone are the days when Geography was a subject that dealt in rote learning; in the relentless memorizing of countries, rivers, and New Zealand sheep farms. Geography today is a living, dynamic subject that offers a holistic approach to thinking. Geographers combine the analytical skills of precision and quantifying that are the hallmarks of the scientist, with the flexible and creative thinking employed by students of the Arts. On any given day, the news bulletins of the world will consist predominantly of geographic issues. These incorporate all the facets of geographic study: through physical, ecological, political, economic, demographic, cartographic and social geography.
Geography at school level has three core aims:
- To develop skills relevant and pertinent to geographic study, such as graphicacy, numeracy, and literacy. This is enhanced by the fresh, exciting modern technology at our disposal, such as GIS software and computer data manipulation. The intensive research project undertaken in Matric prepares students for the rigorous research processes at undergraduate and post-graduate level.
- To build a solid body of geographic knowledge and content, so that Matriculants have a respectable level of geographic literacy at their fingertips.
- To think critically about global issues, and to make evaluations, predictions, and to formulate solutions, around the challenging issues of our time.
Geographers are employable in many different fields, because they are able to think laterally, they have the confidence to approach unfamiliar situations with an open mind, and the necessary skills with which to tackle the given problems. They are also renowned for their skills in interdependent, co-operative brainstorming and planning.
Here at Roedean School (SA), our geographers are given the tools to approach problems logically, in an endeavour to find realistic and practical solutions. It speaks volumes that Geography in Independent Schools in 2012 was the third most popular choice-subject, and the number of candidates who are choosing Geography is increasing faster than any other subject. More and more students and their parents are beginning to realize the value of Geography as a subject that equips students to meet life’s challenges successfully. In many Boys’ Schools, Geography is the most popular choice subject. Many past pupils return to comment that Geography, more than any other subject, has equipped them to meet the demands of tertiary institutions, in that it instills confidence, while empowering students to think critically about real-world issues. The immediate rewards often come when students receive news of their Matric results: Geography is frequently their highest mark. For all geographers, the long-term rewards manifest in their success in tertiary study, and in the enormous variety of careers for which Geography equips the modern student.
Geography not only meets the needs of the 21st –Century student and adult, it is, by its very diverse, and dynamic nature, the most complete, and all-encompassing, 21st-Century subject, and one that all students should take for Matric.