chapter  14
24 Pages

Giving younger children voice in primary geography: empowering pedagogy – a personal perspective

BySimon Catling

Education is a political activity. Which subjects or areas of learning should be included in

the school curriculum, and what these subjects might be about, has always been a matter of

convincing whoever has authority and control, whether in schools, governments or other

interest parties. There is rarely agreement. Inevitably, education is controversial. Schooling

is claimed to be about empowering children, teachers and society (Woodhead, 2010), but

there may be different intentions at work among these dimensions. Education is not and

cannot be outside the interests of those who wield power and the purse strings, whether tax-

payers approve of or desire to challenge the purposes laid out for education and the school

curriculum by politicians. Schooling is never a neutral activity. Notions of behaviour are

value-laden, just as is the specification of content in curriculum subjects and how it is inter-

preted. Perspectives on children and children’s roles in their education are also varied and

influence the values of schools and teaching in them. Education is a social event loosely or

closely determined by those in political power, as they prefer, desire or consider. Politicians

may occasionally be benign but, more often than not, they wish to influence overarching

social outcomes, be they about a more equal society or focused on children as future

Introduction

Education is a political activity. Which subjects or areas of learning should be included in

the school curriculum, and what these subjects might be about, has always been a matter of

convincing whoever has authority and control, whether in schools, governments or other

interest parties. There is rarely agreement. Inevitably, education is controversial. Schooling

is claimed to be about empowering children, teachers and society (Woodhead, 2010), but

there ay be different intentions at work among these dimensions. Education is not and

cannot be outside the interests of those who wield power and the purse strings, whether tax-

payers approve of or desire to challenge the purposes laid out for education and the school

curriculum by politicians. Schooling is never a neutral activity. Notions of behaviour are

value-laden, just as is the specification of content in curriculum subjects and how it is inter-

preted. Perspectives on children and children’s roles in their education are also varied and

influence the values of schools and teaching in them. Education is a social event loosely or

closely determined by those in political power, as they prefer, desire or consider. Politicians

may occasionally be benign but, more often than not, they wish to influence overarching

social outcomes, be they about a more equal society or focused on children as future

Si on Catling

economic units and outputs, fitted for various levels of work. Education can be forward

looking or regressive. It can be a shared learning journey or a matter in which children

must succeed, or not, subserviently, in what is required of them. All education is based in

and inducts children, one way or the other, into value systems. This is my setting. I now

add a context, about perspectives on children and childhood.