ReTeach Geography: diversify and enrich your wider reading

Myself and a handful of talented geography educators were involved in the development of a new free-to-use resource for teachers.

RETEACH is a free-to-use resource providing teachers with user-friendly guides written by subject experts. We aim to help you introduce fresh perspectives, broader subject knowledge and diverse thinking into topics you either already teach or would like to introduce into your curriculum offer. These resources have been developed by teachers and writers who are specialists in key curriculum areas collating relevant materials in carefully curated reading lists, saving you time when planning your teaching.

ReTeach website: About

The resource takes the form of curated reading lists under a number of categories, which are split further into topics:

  • Natural Hazards
    • Climate Change and Natural Hazards – What Might the Future Hold? (Catherine Owen)
    • How decision-making affects vulnerability to hazards (Catherine Owen)
    • Natural Hazards: Impacts, Responses and Human Influence (Kit Marie Rackley)
    • Natural Hazards: Processes and Mechanisms (Kit Marie Rackley)
    • Why people live in hazardous areas (Sarah Darby)
  • Ecosystems and Environments
    • Deforesting the Amazon (David Newell)
    • Desertification (David Newell)
    • Ecosystems under Threat (David Newell)
    • Food and Farming (David Newell)
    • Rewilding (David Newell)
    • Should we farm the desert? (Catherine Owen)
    • The Interconnected Ecosystem (David Newell)
    • Tropical Rainforest Life (Sarah Darby)
    • Wildfires (David Newell)
  • Physical Landscapes
    • Britain’s Diverse Landscapes (David Newell)
    • How glacial and coastal landscapes change over time (Dr Simon Oakes)
    • Rivers: Who controls them and should they be renatured? (Catherine Owen)
    • Why are homes falling into the sea and what can be done about it? (Catherine Owen)
  • Climate Change and Sustainability
    • Exploring the data and debate around decarbonising energy and energy futures (David Holmes)
    • Tackling climate change and sustainability in the classroom (Kit Marie Rackley)
    • The future of renewable energy (David Newell)
    • Tiny homes and car-free living (Catherine Owen)
  • Changing Urban Landscapes
    • Bristol: From ciggies and booze to high-tech hubs and creativity (Catherine Owen)
    • Focussing on Place and Space (David Holmes)
    • Rio: Opportunities and Challenges
    • Rural Migration and the Growth of Megacities (David Newell)
    • Sustainable Cities (David Newell)
    • Sustainable Urban Transport (David Newell)
    • Thinking differently about ‘slums’ and ‘shanty towns’ (Catherine Owen)
    • Urban Regeneration (David Newell)
    • Who benefits from urban regeneration schemes in UK cities? Case study: Cardiff Bay (Catherine Owen)
  • Development, Economic Change and Globalisation
    • Africa is not a country: using stories to explore the diverse continent of Africa (Catherine Owen)
    • Challenging the myths of development and getting under the skin of the world development data (David Holmes)
    • Does ecotourism make a difference? (Catherine Owen)
    • Global connections (Dr Simon Oakes)
    • Global Population Increase (David Newell)
    • How threats to water supplies vary around the world (Catherine Owen)
    • The Global Impacts of Fast Fashion (David Newell)
    • The Mexican Migration Route (David Newell)
    • The Relationship between Colonialism, Imperialism and Development (Catherine Owen)
    • Why is there a development gap? (David Newell)

I had a hand in lists for Natural Hazards and Climate Change. I’m going to give you just a sneak preview here, but you definitely should head over to ReTeach to see the full lists and what others have come up with!

When you dive into the topic of natural hazards, it can generate excitement, awe and wonder, particularly with the power that nature can muster. After all, there are so many images, video clips and outputs from popular culture. We’re spoilt for choice almost every week as there is no shortage of news items focusing on a current natural hazard event, allowing you to keep those case studies fresh and timely. And that is the crux of the issue and the motivation for this reading list. I have been guilty of being hypnotised by the spectacle and awe of natural hazards, forgetting that livelihoods and tragedies are behind every single statistic. The environmental and societal challenges we face today need not just knowledge and understanding; it needs conversation, context, and empathy. This list focuses mainly on the interplay between human activity and natural hazards, including stories of how humans can turn hazards into disasters.

The list contains 2 video clips, 3 links to resources and 6 books, two of which are below.

Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future

by Lauren Redniss, published by Random House, (2016), 9780224096751
A unique and beautifully crafted book. I had never come across anything like it in all my years of studying weather and climate. The book is full of tales about how weather shapes our world and impacts our daily lives. Each chapter focuses on a particular element of the weather, wind, heat etc. The illustrations are conversation pieces in themselves and provide rich and thought-provoking stimuli for discussion and exploration. Redniss references all the articles and research used to allow for further reading.
Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss
Indigenous Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction: Good Practices and Lessons Learned from Experiences in the Asia-Pacific Region

by Rajib Shaw, Noralene Uy, and Jennifer Baumwoll (edited by), published by UN/ISDR, (2008)
A superb collection of summarised research into some of the ways local culture, knowledge and indigenous practices help to mitigate and adapt to disasters. The research into the case studies that make up this document was born out of the infamous 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and some of the ‘success stories’ where indigenous knowledge proved to be life-saving. Examples include earthquake-safe traditional house construction practices in Kashmir, local knowledge on flood preparedness in Nepal and Pakistan, and how weather forecasting through indigenous knowledge can protect crop cultivation in the drought-prone area of Vietnam. Each case study comes with a ‘lessons learned’ box giving useful summaries.
Indigenous Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction: Good Practices and Lessons Learned from Experiences in the Asia-Pacific Region by Rajib Shaw, Noralene Uy, and Jennifer Baumwoll

Go check out the full list over on ReTeach: Natural Hazards: Impacts, Responses and Human Influence

Very little demonstrates the power of nature as natural hazards do, whether they are tectonic and geological hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, earth movements or tsunamis, or weather and climatic hazards such as wildfires, tropical storms, heat waves and blizzards. The processes that drive these natural phenomena are often complex, requiring at least a working level understanding of science. However, there are plenty of science communicators who have attempted to distill the science to make it more accessible.

This list gathers 1 video clip, 3 links to resources and 6 books, two of which are:

The Tectonic Plates are Moving!

by Roy Livermore, published by Oxford University Press, (2019), 9780198847939
There appear to be few publications out there which attempt to give a nuanced narrative of plate tectonics, while attempting to make the science more accessible. One of the best attempts is Livermore’s book. His style is one of a little humour and wit, where you can dive into the broader history of the science or explore the wider implications of tectonic processes. The link given here gives a worthwhile review of the book, especially noting the current hot debate on the mechanisms that drive plate tectonics.
The Tectonic Plates are Moving! by Roy Livermore
The Year Yellowstone Burned: A Twenty-Five-Year Perspective

by Jeff Henry, published by Taylor Trade Publishing (Rowman & Littlefield), (2015), 9781589799035
I have had the privilege of visiting Yellowstone National Park in the USA a number of times, including taking a group of high-school Geography students there. The landscape and ecosystem is truly majestic, but it is also one which is potentially fragile and in need of conservation. In 1988, a wildfire consumed 800,000 acres, just over a third of the park. But since Yellowstone is a relative wilderness, there was an opportunity to study how the ecosystem would naturally recover and adapt. Henry documented a 25-year period since the fire, including amazing imagery, to show how wildfire is a natural part of an ecosystem, despite its apparent malevolence.
The Year Yellowstone Burned: A Twenty-Five-Year Perspective by Jeff Henry

Find the full list over on ReTeach: Natural Hazards: Processes and Mechanisms

Anthropogenic (human-made) climate change is now part of everyone’s lived experience. No longer is it a fable of tragedy from distant shores, nor is there any lingering doubt behind both the science and the steps we need to take. While there are academic studies to substantiate the claim that an increasing number of young people are experiencing anxiety about their future due to climate change and ecological breakdown, we can see both their worries and their determination ourselves, be it in the classroom or outside engaging in activism. The issue of climate change and sustainability is more complex and nuanced than most give it credit for; therefore, these resources will help you feel more confident to tackle the issue in the classroom, regardless of your level of scientific understanding behind it all.  

1 clip, 4 links and 6 books on this list. Here’s two:

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Peter Hawken (edited by), published by Penguin Books, (2018), 9780141988436
Drawdown is a New York Times bestseller that illustrates the different ways to mitigate and remove carbon emissions. It contains ‘classic’ solutions such as wind energy and energy efficiency and socially sustainable solutions such as empowering and educating women and girls. The solutions are based on scientific research and are presented in a very accessible and visual way, allowing an educator to take just one example or use it as a reference guide. It is accompanied by an informative website where you can look deeper into the research and data behind each solution.
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Peter Hawken (edited by)
1,001 Voices on Climate Change: Everyday Stories of Flood, Fire, Drought, and Displacement from Around the World

by Devi Lockwood, published by Simon and Schuster, (2021), 9781982146719
Although we are now starting to see and feel the impact of climate change ourselves, most people in the UK are still protected from the worst due to privileges of wealth and geography. The most vulnerable in society remain at the highest risk of having their lives impacted, and in a globally interconnected world, their stories matter. Journalist Devi Lockwood took to her bike and collected personal stories from around the globe about how communities are changing. Devi’s website also contains an interactive map and blog that can be used to explore the stories further.
1,001 Voices on Climate Change: Everyday Stories of Flood, Fire, Drought, and Displacement from Around the World by Devi Lockwood

The full list is accessed via: Tackling climate change and sustainability in the classroom

Suffice to say, that’s your Geography book club reading list sorted for the next year or two! Of course, there is so much out there, and like Geography itself, way too much that can be ever be read or learnt within a lifetime. So treat the ReTeach lists like a pick-n-mix sweet counter and go for a favourite flavour, try a new twist on something you enjoy, or go for that new taste. Just don’t forget to floss…!

Thank you! All my education work via the Geogramblings’ “Life Geographic” blog is done all in my spare time, at my own cost but is free for you to access and enjoy. If you can spare a few pence, I’d be delighted if you could show your thanks by ‘buying me a coffee.

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One thought on “ReTeach Geography: diversify and enrich your wider reading

  1. Pingback: Reteach - NASBTT

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