Recontextualisation: Selecting and expressing geography's 'big ideas'

Alaric Maude

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Recontextualisation is about the ways in which knowledge is selected from the fields in which it is produced, and transformed into school curricula, students’ textbooks and teachers’ lessons. The chapter examines two aspects of recontextualisation. The first is about a method for selecting geography’s key concepts for use in schools, based on developing criteria for a key concept, and then identifying geographical concepts which meet these criteria. The method produces a division of geography’s major concepts into four key ones (place, space, environment and interconnection), two analytical ones (scale and time), and two evaluative ones (sustainability and human wellbeing), a classification which will help students understand their different roles and functions, and how to use them productively. The second aspect is about how to recontextualise the selected key concepts, by expressing them as understandings that describe geographical ways of thinking, and disaggregating them into progressions that build from factual studies of topics upwards through increasingly abstract generalisations towards the key concept. These progressions demonstrate that school geography can have a hierarchical structure of propositions, although not of theories as in the sciences, a conclusion that has significant implications for how the subject should be structured over the school years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecontextualising geography in education
EditorsMary Fargher, David Mitchell, Emma Till
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-73722-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-73721-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Geographical Education
ISSN (Print)2367-2773
ISSN (Electronic)2367-2781


  • Geography
  • Geographical ways of thinking
  • Recontextualisation
  • Curricula


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