Teaching geographical issues in context and developing a professional identity: the challenge facing primary school teachers

Tambyah, Mallihai M. (2006) Teaching geographical issues in context and developing a professional identity: the challenge facing primary school teachers. In Purnell, K., Lidstone, J., & Hodgson, S. (Eds.) International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education 2006 Symposium, 26 June - 29 June 2006, Brisbane, Australia.


Teacher threshold knowledge in geography is an area of concern for many primary pre-service Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE) teachers. Primary pre-service teachers enter their tertiary teacher education with fixed intentions of providing students in the early childhood and middle years of schooling with a good general education. Primary teachers’ professional identity is often based on notions of caring, nurturing and trust, rather than on specific curriculum knowledge. While such a child-centred approach is valued, the Queensland Studies of Society and Environment syllabus demands that primary educators have mastery of important geographical concepts, particular skills and wide content knowledge such as the management of resources and cultural significance of place. The geographical concepts and skills that underpin many of the outcomes of the Place and Space strand of the Queensland SOSE syllabus are particularly challenging to primary pre-service teachers. This is especially the case when called upon to deliver these outcomes within the context of a unit of work that is both topical and relevant to primary school students. Pre-service teacher education programs that explicitly teach the geographical processes of inquiry and specific geographical concepts and skills will advantage primary teachers. A model for pre-service teacher education is presented which challenges this cohort to widen the scope and depth of their geographical knowledge beyond purely descriptive or comparative attempts to incorporate geography into SOSE units of work. This paper proposes that explicit teaching of the process of geographical inquiry through pre-service SOSE teacher-education courses increases teacher threshold knowledge. Moreover, it has the potential to provide primary teachers with an avenue for developing a professional identity as educators rather than an identity essentially based on nurture and care.

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ID Code: 5894
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: SOSE, inquiry, primary teachers, teacher threshold knowledge, professional identity
ISBN: 0949286141
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 20 Dec 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:20

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