How do you assess “thinking like a geographer”? – Part 2

Memory in the internet age

Having worked with David Thomas, former US Memory Champion, memory is something which excites me and I firmly believe it plays an enormous part in the successful preparation of students for examinations. His tremendous passion for memory enabled him to recite Pi to 22,500 digits and he later gained 4th place in the World Memory Championships. After speaking at my school, David had a profound impact on the techniques used by students to recall information. I have no doubt in his ability to motivate and excite students about recalling information but I am beginning to think carefully about how many of my students will need to rely on recall in their early career paths. It seems to be that many professionals rely on the internet to support them with their work.

Do we disconnect lawyers, doctors, teachers or librarians from the internet at any point in their professional career? In which case, do we need to disconnect students from the internet during examinations or should we begin to assess their ability to handle and apply large amounts of information and data which could be used to accurately reflect their passion for the subject?

Exams of the future

I appreciate the controversy that surrounds my thoughts, but perhaps examinations of the future could allow students to upload images or video, or to create footage on chosen software; students could find advanced theory surrounding a geographical issue. Of course exams should always require students to form a clear and structured response, but would this sort of approach bring out greater levels of argument, evaluation and a better appreciation of the reliability of source information? Admittedly, it could lead to students simply creating news stories about events, copying and pasting information, but would we not have the software to measure the degree to which the work has been borrowed, or indeed plagiarized, in the future?

I discussed this post with my Sixth Formers only this afternoon. I couldn’t avoid one response: ‘it’s all about memory really, isn’t it’?

Image: OUP

Nick Dyson
Nick DysonNick Dyson is currently Head of Sixth Form at Burgess Hill Girls, and also works as an examiner. He has held a variety of teaching roles during his career, including: Newly Qualified Teacher Coordinator, Head of Geography and Head of Careers. Outside of the classroom, he is also a keen windsurfer.