chapter  4
1 Pages

Contesting powerful knowledge: the primary geography curriculum as an articulation between academic and children’s (ethno-) geographies

BySimon Catling, Fran Martin

The argument has been propounded that academic disciplines and school subjects provide a powerful, authoritative knowledge which is key to enabling children to better understand the world in which they live. Inherent in this perspective is that children’s experience, knowledge and understanding are poorly formed and of limited everyday use and value. Yet it is appreciated that children’s naı¨ve knowledge can be a pedagogic starting point to initiate them into academic subjects. While appreciating the purpose and roles of academic subjects, this article challenges these assumptions, arguing that children’s ethno-knowledges provide powerful learning bases of equivalent authority to subjects. Using the example of younger children’s everyday or ethno-geography, the case is that children bring to school powerful (geographical) knowledge of their own. This can and should be recognised and valued in dialogue with authoritative (geographical) subject knowledge, not as subservient to it. It is argued that this perspective goes beyond that of the child/subject coconstruction of knowledge to interrelate the developmental nature of children’s everyday (geographical) learning with (geography) senseof-subject evolution. This case is set in the context of geography but is applicable to other school subjects, where children’s and subjects’ powerful knowledges can mutually engage with and enhance each other.