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Changing geography

8 October 2020

A Westminster City School geography teacher has seen her research on improving the teaching of the subject published in a top journal.

The study of geography is often criticised for lacking diversity and normalising only white identifications and interests. This means that it can be off-putting to Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) pupils at both school and university level. Yet research by Ms Milner, from our Geography Department, has examined ways to change this.

Ms Milner, who joined Westminster City School in September, has completed a qualification at the Institute of Education with an assignment exploring issues of inclusion within the school subject. She conducted a number of qualitative semi-structured interviews with BAME geography teachers to collect their views and then devised numerous strategies for tackling the issues raised.

Ms Milner’s strategies include: analysing colonialism to determine its responsibility for present racial inequalities, drawing on the experiences of other cultures or countries (particularly amongst BAME pupils) when examining case studies and when drawing up a new geography curriculum, and looking at case studies across a range of topics to avoid producing a ‘single story’ of a country.

Ms Milner said: “Conducting this research has been eye-opening and I am incredibly grateful to the teachers who took part. It is vital that we ensure that the education we provide to our pupils is appropriate and inclusive, and I hope that these strategies provide a good starting point for teachers of geography and other subjects. Of course, producing this work over lockdown had its challenges but I am excited to be back in school, where I can test out and evaluate the strategies I recommended. This is an area of work that I am very passionate about and I look forward to exploring it further.”

Ms Milner will now present her research at the Geographical Association conference in April, providing an update on the implementation of her recommended strategies.

Teaching Geography, published by the Geographical Association, provides a forum for sharing practical strategies for teaching geography, critical reflections on geography teaching and learning, and curriculum innovation and change in geography.

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