Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Geography

I was asked recently by my old school to write to a few of the current students a bit about why I took Geography at GCSE and A-Level so I thought I'd transfer that to this blog in case any of you reading this are uncertain about whether Geography is the right subject for you and for your future.

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I'm not going to pretend that I have always been a lover of Geography because that would simply be a lie. When I started out at senior school, there were only two subjects I freely admitted that I hated, and both in equal measures; Geography and Drama. Why did I hate geography so much? Well, I think it was a mixture of things. I came from primary school having a limited experience of what geography entailed, hazy memories of sitting in a classroom learning about rivers and oxbow lakes that made my eyes heavy with boredom. I don't think I really gave Geography much of a chance when joining senior school, my teachers were irritating and all we seemed to do was crafts and look at maps. I have never been the type of person who enjoys doing crafts, so spending most of my time making sheep farms, rainforests and volcanoes was not my thing. I'm someone who likes to learn by reading, listening or discussing, not by using my hands and imagination.  So, in the first two years of secondary school, from age 11-13, I counted the days til I could drop Geography and say goodbye forever. Luckily for me, in hindsight at least, we weren't allowed to decide our GCSE subjects until mid year 9, ages 13/14, and by that time we'd moved away from the Pre-GCSE course and started the GCSE course and that was the point at which I started to learn just how vast Geography is as a subject.

Although I write this now from somewhat of a physical Geography standpoint, it was in fact human geography that got me interested at first. I don't remember much of the pre-GCSE course, only that I hated it with a passion, but moving into GCSE level, with a teacher who was passionate and knowledgeable, I seemed to learn so much about the world in such a short space of time. It felt like Geography finally began to click. Geography wasn't just about Oxbow lakes and cutting and sticking, Geography was actually about all elements of the world. Finally I began to relate what I learnt to things going on around me and understand so much more about the world we live in and the processes and flows that link everyone together globally, from the way in which big companies (TNC's) influence the world, to immigration and emigration, the issues of an ageing population, the make up of cities and rural spaces, all of these issues and problems that I'd heard about or seen with my own eyes but never really thought about or questioned before and problems that I had never heard about before. I decided to continue Geography for GCSE and as my perception of geography changed, my interest in the physical side of Geography began to increase. We started to learn about things I could relate to my own experiences of the world around me, like Coasts and Biodiversity and other that I'd only heard about like Volcanoes and Earthquakes but were still interesting to know about. The mix of physical Geography and human Geography kept me intrigued and consistently learning so much. Even still, despite taking A-Level and having finished my first year at university, there are things that I learnt at GCSE that come up time and time again in the news, conversation and generally just life.

Taking Geography at A-Level was hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made. At the time it meant very little. I took Geography as my filler subject, the one that didn't really have much to do with my future plans but the one that I wanted to take simply because I enjoyed it. It should have clicked then that taking subjects you don't particularly love in order to get a job that you think you might enjoy wasn't exactly a recipe for success in terms of the future but you live and learn. It shouldn't have come as a surprise really when the subject I took purely because of enjoyment, ended up being the subject I wanted to study at university. Even if I had decided not to continue it further after A-Levels, the knowledge and skills base that I have acquired from Geography will be some of the most important I will ever gain. Geography broadens the horizons and changes your perspective on the world, helping you to be far more critical and informed in your decisions. There is no doubt that wherever you go and whatever you do later in life, the skills you learn and the knowledge you acquire in Geography will always stand you in good stead.

That's enough Geography love for today,

Take Geography. You won't regret it (most probably).

xx

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