This blog post examines a new idea from university geography called Thirdspace and GA's Young People's Geographies Projects, and considers how ideas like these could help to reinvigorate school geography. The 2008 Geography National Curriculum offers many teachers the freedom to engage in exciting curriculum making and many academics see this as vital move if we are to shake off the image of geography as ‘boring’ and ‘irrelevant’ (Ofsted 2008). Richard Bustin writes about his research into using the concept of ‘Third space’ with his Year 10 class in the latest version of the journal Geography. Thirdspace was developed by the urban geographer and sociologist Ed Soja (see diagram below).
Richard Bustin’s class investigated illicit drug use in Edinburgh as his real place, real people, real geography, focussing on the relationships between first, second and third space. Essentially he used it as a way of teaching that peoples real lives and perceptions of a place are just as real as the physical buildings and spaces present.
In two key ways this work bears resemblance to the GA’s Young Peoples Geography Project (YPG) which seeks to engage young people with a more relevant geography and one which explores the lives, places and spaces they inhabit. The YPG involves young people in curriculum making which ensures relevance although this could seem challenging to organise.
A question we could then ask is how could we apply these ideas (Thirdspace and YPG) in our teaching of geography? Without realising it I have actually been using elements of Thirdspace in our recent Year 10 controlled assessment. Students are realising there is a difference between the built environment in Maidstone (first space) and residents’ perception of their localities (secondspace). If we were able to run this fieldwork and research again I really would consider introducing this idea.
And what of YPG? I really like the idea of involving students in curriculum making and will definitely be toying with this over the next year.