The study of Geography is essentially the study of the world and everything in it. As such it involves everything and everyone. Everyone has experience of and opinions on it. It’s importance in our lives is illustrated by its frequent appearances in popular culture be it Dylan’s 'Highway 66, Kerouac’s ‘on the Road’ or indeed the beautiful New Zealand landscapes of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Terry Practchett has described the subject as “physics speeded up with trees in it”.
At Lingfield College we’d like to think there is a little more to it. Specifically, it is a discipline with two sides to it. Physical Geography is the study of the natural environment whilst human geography is the study of people and their place within that environment. There are some who like the former and some who like the other but in truth you can’t look at one without considering the other. Investigating river processes is only given purpose beyond academic interest when it is used to examine the impacts of flooding and the possible options to reduce the damage that results and save lives.
Geography to me is about time. It is the long wait or the short, sharp snap. The slow but brutal movement of glaciers, the rapid urban sprawl of London onto the micro-seconds of a seismic event. Philip Stanton, Teacher of Geography
The power of the planet is graphic and brutal and this is one of the appeals of the subject. Charles Frazer, in his book Cold Mountain, described a vista in it as “a gnarled and taliped and snaggy landscape where man might be seen as an afterthought.” An eloquent way of putting us in our place. Maybe it is an outdated idea though, maybe now that we have the power to influence global climate we can no longer be dismissed as easily.
As global population continues to rise and all but a few countries increasing in affluence our impact can only grow. Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network issued the striking idea that if everyone on the planet consumed as much as the average US citizen, four Earths would be needed to sustain them. These, then, are clearly big issues - perhaps the biggest of our times. The teaching of such matters is therefore not taken lightly at Lingfield and the Geography Department has in place an exciting programme designed to introduce students to the world, to help them understand why it is the way it is, the impact they have on it and how they might shape its future.
At Lingfield we believe that curiousity is the key to producing students who are interested and engaged with the world that surrounds them. Curiousity of course involves the asking of questions. Questions such as: Is Climate Change real? When will the oil run out? Why do volcanoes have a larger impact in poorer countries? Will there ever be equality between and within nations? How will the Welsh Rugby team do up against the mighty All Blacks? It is by answering or attempting to answer such questions that we can help students to develop and give them the tools and skills that they will need for university and indeed a full and rewarding life after school.