Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Palin urges geography field trips

Michael Palin says children should go on more geography field trips

Children must go on geography field trips to fire their imagination and encourage them to study the subject, Michael Palin has said.

The writer, TV presenter and Monty Python star said he believes it is vital that pupils see the natural world for themselves, and suggested that it could be the case that youngsters are taken out of the classroom less often now than in the past.

Ahead of a speech on geography to the Prince's Teaching Institute (PTI) later this week, in an event marking the body's 10th anniversary, Palin stressed the importance of the subject.

"Geography itself is such a wide-ranging subject," he said. "It's really about the study of the surface of the Earth, it's relative to every single thing we do, what we eat, what transport we take to work, where we live, what houses are made of. It's an issue that directly relates to what we know of the Earth.

Palin, a former president of the Royal Geographical Society, said the subject must remain in the curriculum, and be well supported.

The subject is part of the new English Baccalaureate, which pupils achieve by scoring at least a C grade in English, maths, science, a foreign language and either history or geography.

Last year's GCSE results show that geography is in decline, with the numbers of students entering slumping by a massive 13,800 compared to 2010.

"What we have to do now, and want to do, is popularise the subject, we've got to make it exciting," Palin said.

The former Monty Python star said that his love of the subject began at an early age, thanks to "two very good teachers" and because of the opportunities to "get out of the school building".

"I know it's a bit different now, partly because people have got laptops and don't have to go out. We need to make sure that good teachers can fire the imagination of the children. I'm not saying that they don't have enough field trips. I suspect it's less now, there are all sorts of problems about taking children out of school, and the resources for the school itself."

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