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Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), Vol. 0, Year 1, Dec., 2012

Copyright Š 2012 Edizioni Nuova Cultura - Roma ISSN online 2281-5694 ISSN print 2281-4310 ISBN 9788861341005 DOI 10.4458/1005

All rights reserved including translation into other languages. This journal, or some part of it, cannot be reproduced in any form without permission.


Gino De Vecchis

J-Reading is born Joop van der Schee

Geographical education in a changing world

7 11

Joseph P. Stoltman


Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli


Perspective on geographical education in the 21st century The reduction of volcanic risk in the Neapolitan area Noemi Bevilacqua, Irene Fabbri, Veronica Angelini, Laura Censi, ZOOM8 Group


Parental nutrition knowledge, geographical area and food habits in Italian schoolchildren: is there a link? Ey端p Artvinli

Integrate geographic skills with active learning in geography: a case of Turkey


THE LANGUAGE OF IMAGES Gianluca Casagrande

A matter of buildings. Damage to material elements of landscape and uncertainties about the future after the Pianura Padana earthquake (May-June 2012)


TEACHINGS FROM THE PAST The empirical and rational teaching of geography


Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 7-10 DOI: 10.4458/1005-01

J-Reading is born Gino De Vecchisa a

Dipartimento di Scienze documentarie, linguistico-filologiche e geografiche, Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy Email:

1. Why a new magazine? In recent years a great number of online magazines have appeared, among which some on geographical education. The increase in their number is to be considered positive for the development of research and for the advantages that it creates in its use and interactivity, for example through forums and ‘distance didacticscientific dialogues’. Then why propose a new online magazine? It must first of all be remembered that the promoting body of this editorial initiative is an association of geography teachers (from primary school to university) and experts in geographical subjects: the Associazione Italiana Insegnanti di Geografia (AIIG) – Italian Association of Geography Teachers. Since it was founded in 1954 it has always published a magazine, first of all called La Geografia nelle Scuole and since 2001 known as Ambiente Società Territorio – Geografia nelle scuole. Furthermore, since 2005 it has issued a series of publications entitled Ambiente Società Territorio, which develops a geographical project focussed on the researchdidactics combination, organised in two converging channels: one of scientific research, divided into different theoretical and applicative sectors and one of research in the didactics of geography, an expression of the inescapable link between the worlds of university and school. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

It is along this trend, which has always the AIIG’s mission, that J-Reading is moving, employing also other focal points which are illustrated below.

2. Integration between research and didactics The aim of contributing to the construction of a bridge between didactics and research, strategic for the development of the subject, is at the basis of this new editorial project, which, inserted in the history of the AIIG, sets out to highlight its international approach that is so essential in a globalised world. The terms didactics and research, in fact, complement each other and combine for a solid cultural education in order to deal with analytical-interpretative and educational-professional needs. The contributions of research should be integrated with didactic ones in order to translate the disciplinary knowledge into projects focussed on truly efficient educational concepts and objectives. The coherence and balance between the scientific and educational-didactic importance are substantial since they give a meaning to information, skills, knowledge that would risk being deprived of their context. The magazine aims to highlight how the Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Gino De Vecchis

epistemological progress of geography can gain from the dialogue between research and didactics. The international scope helps to better understand how important true reciprocity is in the research-didactics relationship, as research gives its contribution to didactics just as it receives it. In the first case – the contribution given to didactics by research – there are no doubts about it as such passage is evident and acquired. On the contrary, great uncertainty still exists with regard to the contribution given by didactics to research. Undoubtedly the motivations at an ethical and socio-cultural level, deriving from the interactions with didactics, could be well implemented by research, thus avoiding the danger of remaining self-referential, charging scientific knowledge with values: new and traditional knowledge, to be reviewed in the light of the different needs of the young and societies. Didactics however is also a reflection on the structure of knowledge and its ability to be translated into a coherent construction that can connect research and often very fragmented and specialist considerations. It is also important that J-Reading acknowledges the role of university and school didactics involved in fostering rationality and emotions, creativity and imagination with the education into which they merge: important ingredients also for the scientific method. The valorisation of didactics is realised by means of: a real interaction between theory and practice, through the recognition of the scientific bases of the learning-teaching practices and techniques; research concerning school organisation; experimentation in a curricular context; the fostering of a laboratory approach.

3. Course of research and new technologies The magazine sets out to show the diversity of paths and approaches of contemporary geography, including the elaborations of new models and theories, mathematical data processing, the application of new mapping and statistical calculation techniques in computerised cartography and in the geographical information systems (GIS), which have considerable Copyright© Nuova Cultura

application possibilities in the sociodemographic and economic-tourist fields, in terms of environmental and cultural heritage and risk analysis etc. This diversity, translated into and applied in the school curricula, represents a great potential for geography, since it proposes a huge number of interpretations and points of view, fostering the understanding of territorial realities on the different geographical scales. J-Reading counts greatly on the contributions that will valorise the inclusion of IT in the didactics of geography. With their attractive technological appearance the Geographical Information Systems are used in didactics, involving the students’ curiosity and interest during their scientific studies, and can deal with a series of different subjects, in diversified spatial-temporal contexts and produce cartography, graphs, three-dimensional models and virtual scenarios. Great importance will also be given to the geographies of perception and behaviour, as well as the links with the disciplines that have broadened the interpretative schemes of the relationship between man, society and environment, directing the attention at the space seen and experienced by both insiders and outsiders. The space built by man, in fact, does not derive only from his economic needs or the need to adapt and fit in with the natural environment, but also from routes that societies follow moved by passions, feelings, impulses, mental representations: one space perceived and experienced in different ways by women, men and children.

4. From scientific theory to didactic practice The potential of the didactics of geography, in research and knowledge production, is above all expressed in relating knowledge, the instruments (traditional and innovative) and the methods of geography with the learningteaching processes. This fruitful scientific course can be developed in the magazine by means of theoretical and methodological research in various directions: 

on the relationship between the knowledge produced by geographies and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Gino De Vecchis

the knowledge to be developed in the curricula for students of all age groups; 

on the processes and progress of geographical research so as to identify how this can be effectively translated into teaching practice;

on the contribution that the perceptions and ideas of didactic research offer scientific research;

on the new aids and instruments able to facilitate research and geographical education;

on the development of geographical competences and their inter-disciplinary value in the organising of knowledge;

on the comparison of reflections and analyses of cases concerning citizenship, sustainable development and interculture;

on the comparison with civil society of the results obtained from research and on the creation of awareness to territory education.

5. Educational and scientific-disciplinary transversalities The magazine aims to strengthen the geography of values (environmental education and risk approach, cooperation education and intercultural exchange, health education etc.), both directing research in the subject enriched with knowledge and competences at great social objectives, and involving a wider and wider catchment area, starting with the university and school world. Education in fact is one of the strategies that most make it possible to generate changes in the values and behaviour of society, which is why it is necessary to critically reflect on the contents that it transmits and on the very forms of transmission. One of the most significant results of the education policies is constituted by the guidelines which, in more or less open ways and according to each country, orient and place conditions for the teachers’ cultural choices. The policy therefore comes into relation with the development of education and disciplinary knowledge, transmitting the new Copyright© Nuova Cultura

acquisitions of knowledge into teaching, but also attempting to propose answers to the transformations in society. On these themes reflection can also critically reinterpret not only the discipline and the school but the whole society and its relations on a global scale too. J-Reading sets out to strengthen a didactics of geography seen as a crucial research area, which requires the active support of the scholars involved in the community of geographers, as well as their attention to the totality of education sciences and a real commitment in the school world. Geography must be made compatible with the cognitive and educational needs of the students, at different ages, so that they can actively understand and experiment it. In reality the teaching of geography, in a deeply changing world in which the man-nature relationship is becoming increasingly complex and their equilibrium more and more fragile, can carry out an extremely important educational function, guaranteeing a qualitative presence with a high educational profile in a school that it truly alive. This highlights the great number of directions that J-Reading intends to explore and go into, starting from the importance of the researchdidactics relationship and gathering the innovative thrusts of the last decades. All these paths will be compared with the different geographic scales, just as they will be inserted in the important lines of study. The interdisciplinary question reserves considerable scientific opportunities for geographical education, exalting its role; the exchange with other subjects, furthermore, must be sought with the absolute conviction in the formulation of the educational-didactic project.

6. Exchanges between researchers and teachers The magazine J-Reading is committed to encouraging and valorising the exchange between the researchers of the various scientific fields and teachers of different school years who work in different countries of the world. It also sets out to foster the close collaboration between university researchers and school teachers, so as to give the latter greater professionalism, contributing to the creation of the teacherItalian Association of Geography Teachers


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researcher figure. In order to achieve these results the magazine is committed to promoting research, courses, laboratory sessions that can fill the present gaps, showing the value of a dynamic didactics able to link scientific, educational and professional aspects.

representatives of the Italian and international scientific community who have already expressed their support in these objectives along with all those who, with their precious contribution of ideas, will enhance the project and make it possible to achieve these common objectives.

Many thanks are extended to the all the

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 11-15 DOI: 10.4458/1005-02

Geographical education in a changing world Joop van der Scheea a

Centre for Educational Training, Assessment and Research, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Email:

Received: November 2012 – Accepted: December 2012

Abstract We live in a fast changing world. Africa is not the same as it was in the year 2000, neither is China, Italy or your local community. Geographical knowledge and skills are more necessary than ever to understand our world. Without an idea that location matters and how location matters, it is difficult to understand today’s world and to think about tomorrow’s. However, the position of geography in education is under pressure. In many countries the number of geography hours in schools is less than it used to be. The question is how do we develop a new geography in education that will be seen as necessary for today and tomorrow? How do we get rid of the limited and sticky image of geography as the subject where you just learn about countries and capitals, an image that is reinforced by TV quizzes? How do we show the world that geography is future oriented and indispensable for tomorrow’s world? This article focuses on the aims of geography in education and how we can show that the world needs geography. Keywords: Geography Education, International Cooperation, Sustainable Development

1. Broad aims of geography in education It is useful to know the names and locations of countries and capitals to understand what is where. Without basic map knowledge any talk about today’s world is quite difficult. But topographic knowledge is not more than a useful tool for geographical thinking. The real focus of geography is the fascinating story of people that live on planet earth at different spots in different ways in conditions that change continuously. In the first lines of the International Charter on Geographical Education Haubrich (1994) wrote that geography education is “indispensable to the development of responsible and active Copyright© Nuova Cultura

citizens in the present and future world”. Haubrich does not stand alone saying this. Many geographers in education said the same using other words, like Hopkin and Lambert (2010) who wrote that “By thinking geographically about the past and the present we are better equipped to imagine our possible futures”. Although the International Charter on Geographical Education was written 20 years ago, its core message is still valid: geography is a powerful medium for promoting the education of individuals and a major contributor to international, environmental and development education. Geography is concerned with human-

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environment interactions in the context of specific places and locations and with issues that have a strong geographical dimension like natural hazards, climate change, energy supplies, land use, migration, urbanisation, poverty and identity. Geography education “promotes understanding, tolerance and friendship amongst all nations, racial and religious groups and furthers the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace by actively encouraging: a) an international dimension and a global perspective in the education of people at all levels; b) understanding and respect for all peoples, their cultures, civilizations, values and ways of live, including domestic ethnic cultures and cultures of other nations; c) awareness of the increasing global interdependence of peoples and nations; d) ability to communicate with others; e) awareness not only of the rights but also of the duties incumbent upon individuals, social groups and nations towards each other; f) understanding of the necessity for international solidarity and cooperation; and g) readiness on the part of the individual to participate in solving the problems of their communities, their countries and the world at large” (Haubrich, 1994). Geography education focuses on people and their environment at local, national and international level. So geography contributes to local, national and international education as well as to environmental education. The Lucerne Declaration on Geographical Education for Sustainable Development, drafted by Haubrich, Reinfried and Schleicher (2007) recommends principles and practices on which effective Education for Sustainable Development in Geographical Education should be based. Education for Sustainable Development is based on a systems approach which focuses on the interconnectedness of the physical and the human systems that shape our earth (Reinfried, 2009). Topics are for instance sustainable consumption and disaster reduction. The Declaration on Geographical Education for Sustainable Development also includes learning approaches for geography teaching about these kind of issues. “The more knowledge available in the hands of educated people capable of understanding the information, the greater the chances are of significantly reducing Copyright© Nuova Cultura

environmental damage and preventing future problems” (UN, 1991 cited by Haubrich, 1994). As we chose a geography that focuses on human-environment interactions at different spatial levels we chose a geography that is very complex and broad. Geography as the subject where you just learn the names and characteristics of places and countries is much easier to keep in mind for students, parents, school leaders, policymakers and politicians. How do we change their image of geography, that is the question. Many people think that geography is easy to learn and that it is sufficient to do some basic geography in the age range between 10 and 15 years, but it is not. Geography is complex because it is about different interconnected human and physical systems on planet earth. This complexity is geography’s strength but also its weakness. To put geography in the spotlight it is important to think about the content and the method of a strategy that puts geography in a better position. Two things seem very important: 

to give learners and outsiders a clear idea about the new core of geography education;

to communicate the message about new geography education in a smart and modern way.

Let us look a bit more in detail at these points and first think about the question “what?” and then take the question “how?”.

2. Next steps to consider Geography is but not only about place names. It is certainly about place and space. Although we have seen a retreat from the distinctive core of geography since the 1960s and 1970s we see “some influential recent trends for a return to differentiated place study, permeating issues into places, in a distinctively geographical approach, rather than places into issues, where the distinctiveness is blurred” (Marsden, 1997). While teaching about general issues as migration or pollution it is possible to leave the questions of place and space out. That is the reason why some geography lessons are not really different from lessons in science, history, civics or Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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environmental education. But if the core of the geography lessons is focused on the causes and effects for Italy of the earthquake in L’Aquila it is clear that geographical knowledge is very important. Without knowledge from human and physical geography as well as knowledge about the site and situation of L’Aquila the learner will not understand what is going on. So, it is important that we call a spade a spade. We should put changing regions explicitly in the school curriculum and geography lesson plans and think about the question of how location matters. This is not a road back to the days that geography was just topography, it is a step forward to a modern regional geography that helps the citizen of today and tomorrow to understand his or her world. Today many geography lessons focus on learning facts and concepts and not on understanding changing maps. Of course learning facts and concepts is good as long as it not a goal in itself but just to give students some luggage to find a route they can walk. However, modern regional geography will take on questions like: 

What are the constraints and challenges for urban renewal in your own local area and what are the pros and cons of different spatial plans?

How is the landscape changing in the BRIC countries and why?

In their valuable book “Teaching Geography 11-18, a conceptual approach”, Lambert and Morgan (2010) ’state that “school geography is increasingly seen as a vehicle for maintaining the status quo, rather than as a means of potential transformation”. The disciplinary perspective can be easily disregarded or misunderstood. For geographers it is clear that geographical knowledge is indispensable to help us critically understand the real world. More focus in geography teaching on subject-oriented knowledge and on fast changing areas is not a luxury. Good geographical knowledge is the basis to develop a different view about local and global issues like climate change, border conflicts, regional identity or the uneven spatial distribution of food and energy. How this new modern regional geography Copyright© Nuova Cultura


should be organized is the second question we have to face. This “how” question seems easier to answer than the “what” question. There are many good initiatives to organize geographical learning in a modern way. Crucial in many projects is the use of international networks and modern technologies. Four examples illustrate this point. 1. Start from their world, is the message of Robertson (2009). Modern youngsters are using all kinds of social media and technologies. “Netizens” are the new public citizens of cyberspace. Robertson wants to bring together contributions from children in different counties to learn about the impact of their way of living for public space and education. “Locally derived knowledge gained from samples of 12-year olds will be subjected to cross-cultural comparisons and validation. Bringing together these contributions will strengthen the decision-making process and provide new knowledge about meaning making, agency and citizenship for the twentyfirst-century e-democracy”. 2. In another project Solem (2010) and colleagues developed six undergraduate course modules. Using Moodle technology students in different countries are linked for collaborative learning, inquiry, and comparative analysis. The Center for Global Geography Education (CGGE) offers educational resources and professional development opportunities for higher education faculty and human geography teachers seeking innovative and exciting ways to teach geography. Collaborative projects that use e-learning technologies connect geography classes in different countries for online collaboration and discussion. 3. At the International Geographical Union (IGU) 2012 assembly in Cologne a new project started about sustainable cities called oursus (see The idea started at Hunan University, Changsha China. China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and faces environmental Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Joop van der Schee

pollution issues. Although the cities involved in the oursus project are from different parts of the world, many face similar challenges in terms of sustainable features like environment-friendly consumption and production. The IGU organized a group of volunteers to develop a sustainable information network to tackle such challenges in different cities in the world. The idea is that in addition to policy makers and businessmen geography classes in these cities participate in thinking about sustainable cities. Smart city transport is one of the topics in the discussion. 4. The International Geography Olympiad is also a successful way to show new geography teaching. The tests of the International Geography Olympiad are a new benchmark for geographical literacy. Under the auspices of the IGU the first International Geography Olympiad started in 1996 in the Netherlands with five European countries (Van der Schee and Kolkman, 2010). In 2012 in Cologne Germany 32 countries participated with a team of four secondary school students, aged 16-19, and two adult team leaders. The students were selected through national competitions in which worldwide more than 100,000 students participated. The International Geography Olympiad ( consists of three parts: a written response test (40% of total marks), a substantial fieldwork exercise (40%), and a multimedia test (20%). What is important is that the Olympiad assignments are a good start for an international discussion about the quality of geography teaching, how to reach higher level thinking and about the importance of fieldwork in which students discover the relation between theory and practice by outdoor mapping exercises and decision making exercises. Geography educators from different countries report that the content of the tests of the Olympiad contribute positively to the debate about the importance of geography as a secondary Copyright© Nuova Cultura

school subject. “This kind of competition is a great stimulus for students and increases the prestige of school geography in general” (Liiber and Roosaare, 2007, p. 298). “The results of this competition provided a solid basis for others to build on in the years to come, and the Chinese organizers will continue the China National Geography Olympiad on a biannual basis” (Min and Dongying, 2007, p. 282).

3. Last but not least The IGU Commission on Geographical Education likes to be the international platform to stimulate modern and effective geography teaching in different countries. Depending on location based circumstances the development of geography teaching will differ from place to place. It is good to discuss geographical content and successful learning strategies on an international scale. To maximize the results research and development in this field should go hand in hand. Writing about research in geographical and environmental education Lidstone and Stoltman (2012) state: “We often teach our students, about the effects, real and imaginary, of globalisation on the world at large. It is time to re-examine through reflection as well as theoretical and empirical research the nature and the potential of the communities of practice within which we each work and the further potential for closer integration and mutual support internationally”. The same authors pose the question that there perhaps is a need for a more coherent structure within which an International Geographical Education Community can seek and offer mutual support as countries negotiate through emerging national curricula. As geography educators we need each other to help our students to develop a different view on the world they live in. It is necessary to do this together and to show our projects in public in a smart way to falsify the idea that geography is learning places. We should think about focusing with a big

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group of geographers in education on just a few themes like the oursus project. We need to hammer away. Show the world what modern geography is all about: the impact of changing human-environment interaction at a local, national and global scale. Essential knowledge and skills to decide about the places and the world of today and tomorrow. To keep up with the changes in our digital global village geographical knowledge and skills should be flexible, analytical and collaborative. The task of geography to explore the world and to study the relation between man and nature is still there but in a different way. Modern technology helps us to learn more effectively and efficiently. Geography teaching can help to prepare youngsters for the world of today and tomorrow. Using modern technology and communication teachers and students all over the world can help each other to develop a different view and doing so to create new geography teaching. Existing networks of geographers like the IGU network can be reshaped to open new horizons.







References 1. Haubrich H., International Charter on Geographical Education, Freiburg, IGU Commission on Geographical Education, 1994. 2. Haubrich H., Reinfried S. and Schleicher Y., “The Lucerne Declaration on Geographical Education for Sustainable Development”,, in Reinfried Y., Schleicher Y. and Rempfler A. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Lucerne-Symposium (Switzerland, July 29-31, 2007), IGU-CGE, Geographiedidaktische Forschungen, 42, 2007, pp. 243-250. 3. Hopkin J. and Lambert D., “One of humanity’s big ideas: why school geography matters”, The magazine of the GA, 16, 5-6,

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11. 12.


2010. Lambert D. and Morgan J., Teaching Geography 11-18, Glasgow, McGraw-Hill, 2010. Lidstone J. and Stoltman J., Editorial: “International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 21, 2, 2012, pp. 93-94. Liiber U. and Roosaare J., “Geography Olympiads in Estonia”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 16, 3, 2007, pp. 293-298. Marsden B., “On Taking Geography Out of Geographical Education – Some Historical Pointers in Geography”, Geography, 356, 82 3, 1997, pp. 241-252. Min W. and Dongying W., “The China National Geography Competition for Middle School Students”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 16, 3, 2007, pp. 280-282. Reinfried S., “Education for sustainable development and the Lucerne Declaration”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18, 4, 2009, pp. 229-232. Robertson M., “Young ‘netizens’ creating public citizenship in cyberspace”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 18, 4, 2009, pp. 287-293. Solem M., “No passport required”, 2010, Van der Schee J. and Kolkman R., “Multimedia tests and geographical education: the 2008 International Geography Olympiad”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education 19, 4, 2010, pp. 283-293.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 17-24 DOI: 10.4458/1005-03

Perspective on geographical education in the 21st century Joseph P. Stoltmana a

Department of Geography, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, USA Email:

Received: October 2012 – Accepted: November 2012

Abstract The 2012 Congress of the International Geographical Union and Symposium of the Commission on Geography Education (IGU-CGE) attracted geographical educators from many countries. For the past five decades the IGU-CGE has served as a main international venue for geography education. The current paper uses the frequency of scientific presentations as empirical evidence to categorize major topics at the 2012 IGU-CGE. The assumption is that the major directions in geography education internationally are reflected in the topics represented by participants to the congress and symposia. The evidence suggests that traditional interests of geography educators continue to prevail in the categories such as pedagogy and teacher preparation. Interest in the use of geospatial technologies is on the increase, as are the topics of spatial thinking and sustainable development. The United Nation’s attention to sustainable development and the general engagement of geographers in the topic is reflected in the increased attention to sustainability. Geography as a discipline and geography education in practice display deep roots in its human-environment traditions, which include sustainability. Keywords: Trends in Geography Education, International Geography Education, Sustainable Development

1. Introduction Teaching geography is one of the oldest of the academic disciplines to be included in a liberal or general education. It was perhaps due to the close proximity of geography and essential life skills that brought geography to the forefront of practical intellectual information and skills. In early times the common person needed to be knowledgeable regarding the seasons of the year, the response of vegetation and other biota to temperature regimes, and the general tempo of life. Many of the applied aspects of survival were closely associated with Copyright© Nuova Cultura

environmental conditions by virtue of the interaction between people and the environment. Survival was dependent upon knowing place based geography, that rich knowledge of the locale, its water, soil, resources, and opportunities as well as being curious as well as cautious about the groups of people that occupied adjacent territories. With time the place based nature of geographic knowledge expanded to include more distant places. The nature of geography as a discipline and its structure became much more inclusive of people and the global environment. Among those

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changes was the increased accommodation that the discipline had for using crosscutting information from other subjects in the humanities, social, and physical sciences. From the earliest times, geography has been viewed as essential knowledge for the general citizenry as well as for the members of academy. In this paper I will focus on developments in contemporary geography education internationally. I will do this by completing a critical analysis of the major topics in geographical education during the 2012 Congress of the International Geographical Union. The IGU Congress provides geographic education with a sampling of the discipline’s international stature in the school curriculum and teacher preparation institutions. In this review, I will first reflect on the teaching of geography internationally through the prism of the 2012 Pre-Congress Symposium of the Commission on Geographical Education in Freiburg, Germany. I will follow that analysis with a review of the 2012 IGU Congress Sessions in Cologne, Germany, including the sessions organized by the European Association of Geographers (EUROGEO). While not as thorough as a country by country survey of the status of geography education, the combined topics and presentations among the three venues in 2012 does provide a sampling of international geography education from among bellwether activities sponsored by the discipline.

2. The International Geographical Union: Commission on Geographical Education The Commission on Geographical Education (CGE) is the longest standing, formally recognized group within the International Geographical Union (IGU). Initially chartered as the Committee on the Teaching of Geography in 1952 at the Washington, DC IGU, the Commission has consistently served two purposes. First, it has been the international voice and advocate for geographical education when curriculum decisions are being made within countries. This is particularly true for the technologically and economically emerging countries. There are other organizations that

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have also had a strong influence on geography education. For example, the Geographical Association of the United Kingdom has had major influences on the British Commonwealth countries as curricula were revised and renewed since the 1950s as part of post independence geography education initiatives. UNESCO has also played a significant role in the development and structure of geography education internationally through the publication of resource materials devoted to the subject (Graves, 1982; UNESCO, 1965). The CGE IGU also has several publications that lay the groundwork and suggest the means to address the issues that confront geography teaching in the international context. They provide a widely agreed upon rationale for teaching the subject using criteria that meet CGE-IGU specifications. The first and best known is the International Charter on Geographical Education (Haubrich, 1992). The UNESCO publications and the charter and other Commission position publications have become the trademark, guiding principles of the CGEIGU and UNESCO for the past four decades (Gerber, 2003; Gerber and Lidstone, 1996; UNESCO, 2005, 1965). The publications have been influential in the development of rigorous human and physical geographic content in international education. They have enabled geography educators to influence public policies regarding education within their countries by aligning the national curriculum as closely as practical with the recommendations of the CGEIGU and other international positions on geographical education. The IGU CGE Symposium in Freiburg, Germany, in 2012 continued the traditions of representing geography education internationally. The eclectic nature of the discipline with it wide range of topics and issues addressed in geographic research was reflected in the geography education topics presented in the symposium. The fundamental recognition that geography education implies two converging interests – geography and education – that are represented by distinct theories, methodologies, and philosophical underpinnings makes it a challenging, but enticing field of endeavor. Geography educators arrive at the research and teaching focus from both ends of Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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the spectrum – the academic geography terminus and the classroom teaching terminus. This convergence is similar to merging the ideas of Guido of Pisa and Maria Montessori in order to focus on the capacity of students to learn and apply geography. The 2012 Symposium covered Category Pedagogy Teacher Preparation Technology in Teaching Knowledge and Assessment Sustainability and Geography Primary and Secondary School World and Regional View

Number of presentations 13 11 8 8 3 3 2

a substantial range of topics representing geography education. I have categorized the papers and posters presentations at the Symposium in Freiburg by topic in Table 1 (Falk et al., 2012).

Category Uses of Geography Natural Hazards Geography Curriculum Philosophy of Teaching Textbooks Standards in Geography Total number categorized

Number of presentations 2 2 2 1 1 1 57

Table 1. Categorization of Papers and Posters presented at 2012 CGE-IGU Symposium. Source: Falk et al., 2012.

There are several different ways to group and categorize the topics from the Freiburg Symposium, but my intent is to use the categorizations to reflect the major points of interest among the international community. My criteria were derived from the key terms and words used in the titles of the presentations. When there was doubt, I referred to the printed short paper for further details regarding the appropriate category. There was a preponderance of interest in pedagogy and teacher preparation among the papers and posters in 2012. This reflects the traditional interests of many professionals in the field, since we are mainly from teacher education programs where we promote the best classroom practices in order to present the content of geography. Both pedagogy and teacher education reflect the merging of geographic education with content, methods, and materials used in teaching. While basic and applied research tends to focus directly on content or education, their integration in the classroom is a main concern as we consider the types of geographic education that is best for students in the 21st century context. There was also considerable attention to technology in teaching at the Freiburg CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

Symposium. This was demonstrated by papers that focused on using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the classroom for mapping and analysis of patterns and distributions of geographic data on the surface of Earth. Other technology included the use of smart phones for geographic study outside the classroom. In an era when many students have access to smart phones, it is important we begin studying the educational advantages of Geographic Positioning and data retrieval capabilities of smart phones and their utility and usage in geographic study. Professional geographers are using such devices in data collection and retrieval, so they should be usable in geography education at the school as well as the university level. The challenge is to make the transition from using the smart phone as a purely communications device to a geographic device. While cellular phones of nearly every vintage are useful for communications and social networking, the discussion in Freiburg opened the possibility for geographical networking. It represents a new research and classroom application challenge for geography education. There is perhaps no greater academic or skills application for smart phones than in geography education. A





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assessment, was a continuing interest among the presenters of papers in Freiburg. The two topics, while often presented separately, were categorized together. The rationale was that since if knowledge is a measurable goal, then it takes a clearly defined means of assessing the knowledge to measure it. There is a strong academic and research tradition within this category among geography educators and it ranges from national assessments to classroom based assessment. What would I conclude to summarize the state of geographic education derived from the 2012 Symposium proceedings? Two observations are apparent in terms of what researchers and practitioners reported. First we are remaining engaged in research and practice in pedagogy and teacher education. The rationale for this disciplinary posture is perhaps the belief that sound geography education begins with quality, rigorous experiences in the classroom. The belief is that the best way to accomplish that quality and rigor is by certificating teachers with adequate content knowledge and models of classroom practice to enable them to attain success. Second, geography educators must pursue the most recent technologies that are applicable to the teaching of the discipline both inside and out of the classroom. Our students arrive in our classes as digital natives in the 21st century. They have never known a time without the Internet, WiFi, blogging, and texting. These technologies are becoming as common as printed maps, atlases, and field studies were for prior generations of geography students. The papers at the Symposium reported that teachers and researchers are taking steps to both use digital devices in their teaching as well as their activities to research the effect on learning, active engagement with the content of geography, and the uses of social networking to gain information about the world. One important component in geography education was not well represented in the Freiburg Symposium? That topic was represented by just two papers focusing on curriculum development designs and research. In most subjects, including geography, it is the curriculum that is the fabric holding together the knowledge, methods, and skills represented by Copyright© Nuova Cultura

the discipline as a coherent process. A geography curriculum widely accepted and clearly researched for its beneficial effects on learners is an important means to prevent disciplinary slippage in the overall national, state, or local curriculum during times of revamping of educational priorities. This type of revamping occurs with regularity in many countries, and the best protection for the curricular “territory” of geography is a well researched, clearly articulated and outcomes demonstrated significance derived from the inclusion of the curriculum in the schooling process (Lambert, 2011).

3. The Commission on Geography Education at the Cologne IGU Congress in 2012 The papers presentations at the International Geographical Congress in Cologne were vetted by committees of international geographers prior to their acceptance. The vetting process was necessary due to the large number of papers submitted to the Congress and the plan by the organizers to feature particular foci for the research and practice in geography education. Therefore, the initial categorization in the call for submissions was set to be consistent with the overall theme of the IGU Congress, Down to Earth, and is used here. The categorization of papers is presented in Table 2 (International Geographical Union, 2012). The presentations on geography education at the Cologne Congress represented increased attention during recent years to sustainable development. What is the explanation for this large number of papers? While the CGE had proposed topics such as education for economic development in prior decades, it was the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) that extended the opportunity for geography education to collaborate in the international program (UNESCO, 2005). There is a consensus among geographers that sustainable development is well within the disciplinary interests and responsibilities of geography. The affirmation of CGE’s commitment to sustainable development has been affirmed by Professor Carol Harden, an

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eminent American geographer. “To not embrace sustainability, to ignore the future, or, even worse, to intentionally support unsustainable practices connotes unenlightenment, greed, poor management, and bad Category Education for Sustainable Development & Global Learning Examples of Best Practice in Geography Education and Teacher Preparation Spatial Thinking Standards, Concepts and Experience

manners. How could a thinking person or caring society choose to intentionally reduce the resources and opportunities available for future generations?” (Hardin, 2009).

Number of Category presentations 11 State of the Art in Geography Education 11 Higher Education 8 Innovative Learning – New & Traditional Media 8 Preconceptions in Geography and Geography Education Total number of presentations

Number of presentations 8 4 4 4 58

Table 2. Categorization of Papers presented at 2012 IGU Congress – Cologne. Source: International Geographical Union, 2012.

The introduction of sustainable development as an agenda for CGE began in earnest in 2006. The UNESCO sponsorship of a decade (20052014) dedicated to education for sustainable development provided a larger goal, but the immediate initiative was carried out by active members of the CGE, namely Professor Hartwig Haubrich, Dr. Sibylle Reinfried, and Dr. Yvonne Schleicher. Their initiative for geography and sustainability resulted in the publication of the Lucerne Declaration on Geographical Education for Sustainable Development (Haubrich, Reinfried and Schleicher, 2007), which has become a key policy statement for geography educators globally. The attention among the presentations at the Cologne Congress to sustainability was significant. The combined topics of sustainability and global learning were represented by eleven presentations, with eight of those focusing specifically on sustainable development. The attention to sustainable development came from different countries and regions, signifying it international importance as a topic. It was apparent that the UNESCO (UNDESD) program provided considerable attention to the topic, that the CGE-IGU Lucerne Declaration on the role of geography education, Copyright© Nuova Cultura

and the human-environment traditions of the discipline all contributed to the preponderance of presentations. The Cologne CGE presentations also reaffirmed the concern for pedagogy and best practices in teaching geography. Eleven presentations were dedicated to the topic. The range of presentation subtopics was large within best practices and the availability of empirical data was abundant. The strength of the pedagogy and best practices topic was the inclusion of evidence, since reports of research and practice were generally based on having field tested in the classroom a specific teaching methodology or geography materials. Both the Freiburg Symposium and the Cologne Congress provided evidence that pedagogy and best practices, instructional methodology, teaching techniques and other topics that fall within this larger field of research interest are among the most common concerns of geographic educators. Again, the reason for this interest rests with its proximity to the work that may geography educators do in their professional responsibilities – the preparation of teachers who will enter teaching equipped with the best possible means to assure their students successful study and engagement with geography. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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Three topics received nearly equal attention during the Cologne CGE presentations. They were spatial thinking (8 papers), standards, concepts and experience (8 papers), and state of the art in geography education (8 papers). Spatial thinking is a relatively recent focus of geography education, but not of the discipline of geography. Geography is often referred to as the spatial science (Geographical Sciences Committee, 2006). The reorientation to the use of the term spatial has been in response to gaining prestige for geography as a discipline that focuses on one of the important ways of thinking about and acting within Earth’s space. In some countries geography’s traditional role as a core subject has been infringed upon as a result of greater focus on other disciplines, such as mathematics and language. In other countries the multidisciplinary approach to the social studies subsumed geography and made it less visible in as a subject within the curriculum. The attention to the spatial attributes of geography gives it two advantages. First, the focus on spatial analysis implies a high level, rigorous academic endeavor. Geographic Information Science (GIS) has provided the opportunity for not only geographers, but for many other disciplines to engage in the rigor of using spatial data and producing specialized maps addressing particular issues. The maps made the spatial analysis of those data possible for non-geographers. Second, brain research over the past several decades has identified areas of the brain that process maps, photograph, and chart information – all spatial in their form – as opposed to other areas of the brain that process other types of stimuli, such as reading narratives. The basic research that is necessary to determine the type of spatial information that is most readily learned and the ways it can be presented is of considerable interest within geography education. The brain research is in its infancy in geography, more advanced in psychology, and quite advanced in cognitive sciences. It is an area of research with considerable importance to geography, but that geographers are not well equipped to pursue without either specialized training or collaboration with colleagues in disciplines that are engaged in researching spatial thinking. Standards, concepts and experience as a topic Copyright© Nuova Cultura

was represented by eight papers in the Cologne CGE. The question of national standards for the teaching of geography and design of the geography curriculum takes on two points of view. The first is the philosophical discussion regarding the effect of standards on the creative, innovative role of teachers. There is a belief that standards stifle good classroom teaching and instructional design. The second point of view is that standards clearly define the content and skills that all students should know and be able to produce at carefully considered benchmarks in their schooling. Standards assist in the development and implementation of national curricula, in national assessments of student proficiency in geography, and in making the transition from school to school for migratory or transient students less problematic. As the number of countries adopting content and skills standards increases, the necessity for detailed research on their effects – both positive and negative – should be a component of geography education investigations. Eight papers were presented about status of geography education in different countries. They join a long standing tradition for reporting on the changing conditions and stability for geography as a school subject. The studies tend to focus on single countries, but sometimes present a comparison among several countries. Those research studies provide a discourse on the opportunities and challenges that the discipline faces in national education contexts. While the methodology and data vary, the cumulative results of such research reveal global or regional patterns that are worth noting. The continued interest in status studies suggests that a global study of the status of geography should be completed under the auspices of the CGE-IGU during the next several years.

4. EUROGEO at the IGU in Cologne The presentations in the sessions sponsored by the European Association of Geographers were focused large on Europe or Europe in the World. Technology in the teaching of geography was the research topic presented most frequently (Table 3). It represented the major interest in and

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developments with the uses of technology in European classrooms. While the use of technology in teaching geography was well represented during the CGE Symposium in Freiburg, technology was the focus of just 4 presentations at the CGE in Cologne, while EUROGEO included 7 presentations. The possible explanation may be the greater commitment within the European regions for technology in geography, such as Geographic Information Systems and Geographic Positioning Systems, within the formal curriculum. In the United States in general, geospatial technology used by geography students is normally part of the informal curriculum rather than the formal curriculum, Category Technology and Teaching Geography World and International Views

but that is gradually changing. Individual teachers and possibly students who are inclined to introduce geospatial technologies in the classroom and through field work do so at their own initiative rather than through an educational policy or curriculum expectation. It appears from the presentations at the 2012 IGU that Europe has considerable activity in using technology to teach geography, or at least promoting the use of technology. That said, it is also necessary to note the large proportion of European colleagues who participated in the IGU Symposium and Congress and may over represent the overall use of geospatial technology.

Number of Category presentations 7 Sustainability

Number of presentations 2

3 Total presentations


Table 3. Categorization of Papers presented at EUROGEO Sessions 2012 IGU Congress – Cologne. Source: Dohnert, 2012.

5. Conclusions This paper is based on the premise that the presentations on geography education during the 2012 CGE-IGU were representative of the leading topics in geographical education research and practices internationally. Granted, not all countries or larger regions of the world were represented at CGE-IGU events. However, those attending do represent a global sample of current activity in geography education. The 2012 CGE-IGU was more heavily attended by colleagues from Europe due to geographical proximity. However, there was representation from North America and Asia. South America and Africa were less well represented. Therefore, the data must be viewed in terms of its bias towards Europe, Asia, and North America. This bias is not equally proportional, and Europe led both in the number of papers and participation in the Congress sessions associated with CGE.

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The IGU Congress and Symposium of the Commission on Geography Education have significance for geographical education internationally. They bring geography educators together to reflect on the diverse array of topics that we include in our discipline? I believe this occurs for two reasons. The first is the belief among geography educators that a practical knowledge of Earth, its environment and people are essential to becoming a responsible citizen at the local place where one resides. International understanding and the ability to responsibly consider the points of view of other people from different countries and groups are also tangible benefits from knowledge of geography. As an IGU and a Commission the larger goals are the exchange of scientific knowledge, increasing interactivity among geographers, and enhancing international understanding among people. Each of these outcomes is important to 21st century citizenship. Secondly, the Commission through its activities is the advocate for furthering the Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Joseph P. Stoltman

international foundations of the discipline through our flagship documents. I suggest that geography educators internationally ground their research and teaching within the recommendations of the International Charter on Geography Education, the United Nation’s Charter on Human Rights and a long term inquiry into the ways in which we address sustainability issues and the outcomes. This will require continued attention to the scientific contributions of the discipline as well as the reservoir of humanistic and arts traditions that geography brings to education. For example, the landscape paintings by Giovanni Costa of the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside are deeply geographic and filled with the emotion that draws viewers to appreciate and learn geography from encounters with the arts. Geography education as reflected by the 2012 Symposium and Congress topics in Freiburg and Cologne embraced the theoretical, applied and eclectic attributes of the discipline, while realizing the important preparation of students for the practical encounters with geography in the 21st century.

References 1. Dohnert K., “IGU Congress: Cologne 2012”, 2. Falk G., Haubrich H., Muller M., Schleicher Y. and Reinfried S. (Eds.), “Experienced Based Geography Learning”, IGU-CGE 2012 Symposium Proceedings, Freiburg, Germany, Institute of Geography and Geography Education, 2012. 3. Geographical Sciences Committee, Learning to Think Spatially, Washington, DC, The National Academies Press, 2006. 4. Gerber R. (Ed.), International Handbook on Geographical Education, Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003.

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5. Gerber R. and Lidstone J. (Eds.), Developments and Directions in Geographical Education, Adelaide, Channel View Publications, 1996. 6. Graves N.J. (Ed.), New UNESCO Source Book for Geography Teaching, Paris, UNESCO, 1982. 7. Hardin C., “President’s column: Sustainability and dancing”, Newsletter of the Association of American Geographers, 44, 9, 2009. 8. Haubrich H., International Charter on Geographical Education, Freiburg, Germany, Paedagogische Hochschule Freiburg, 1992. 9. Haubrich H., Reinfried S. and Schleicher Y., “Geographical Views on Education for Sustainable Development”, Proceedings of the Lucerne-Symposium, Switzerland. Geographiedidaktische Forschungen, 42, 2007, pp. 243-250. 10. International Geographical Union, 32nd International Geographical Congress, Book of Abstracts International Geographical Congress, Cologne, University of Cologne, 2012. 11. Lambert D.L., “Reviewing the case for geography, and the ‘knowledge turn’ in the English national curriculum”, in Whewell C., Brooks C., Butt G. and Thurston A. (Eds.), Curriculum Making in Geography, London, Institute of Education, University of London and the Commission on Geographical Education, International Geographical Union, 2011, pp. 72-87. 12. UNESCO (Ed.), UNESCO Source Book for Geography TeachingLongmann/UNESCO, Paris, Longmann/UNESCO, 1965. 13. UNESCO, “United Nations Decade of Educational for Sustainable Development”, 2012,

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Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 25-33 DOI: 10.4458/1005-04

The reduction of volcanic risk in the Neapolitan area Roberto Scandonea, Lisetta Giacomellia a

Dipartimento di Matematica e Fisica, Università di “Roma Tre”, Rome, Italy Email: Received: October 2012 – Accepted: November 2012

Abstract The Neapolitan area may be affected by the activity of the two volcanoes of Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei. Contingency plans have been formulated for Vesuvius and should be implemented in case of observations of anomalous precursory signals. The high population density makes the success of any large scale evacuation plans unlikely. We revise the effect of past historical eruptions which occurred in the area, and suggest possible alternative measures that can be taken by individuals also during the course of an eruption. Keywords: Volcanic Risk, Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei, Eruption

1. Introduction Volcanic Risk has been defined (Fournier, 1979) as the product R = Value x Vulnerability x Hazard where the Value is the total amount of lives or properties at risk of a volcanic eruption, the Vulnerability is the percent of value at risk for a given volcanic event, and the Hazard is the probability that a given area be interested by a certain volcanic phenomenology. The reduction of volcanic risk can be obtained by diminishing the number of inhabitants and the properties at risk of a volcanic eruption. The first objective can be achieved by evacuation plans that should be implemented before the imminence of an eruption. The second objective is more difficult as it requires a long term planning of the urban Copyright© Nuova Cultura

development of a volcanic area. The general experience in Italy, as well as in other parts of the world, has shown that an increasing number of people, as well as industrial and urban development are occupying larger areas exposed to different natural hazards (Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, 2008). This general tendency is difficult to be countered as it is driven by strong economic interests. Furthermore, large numbers of people living in endangered areas make it difficult to work out large scale evacuation plans as has been seen during the Katrina event in New Orleans (Cigler, 2009). The Neapolitan area is characterized by a very high population density (Pesaresi et al., 2008), and may be affected by the activity of the active volcanoes of Vesuvius, (Figure 1) and Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli

Campi Flegrei (Figure 2) (Scandone et al., 1993). Studies on the volcanic hazard of the area started 40 years ago (Scandone, 1977), but have been unable to prevent an irregular and massive urbanization of the area. The large growth of

population after the 50s has resulted in more than 850,000 people now living in the close proximities of the two active, but quiescent volcanoes.

Figure 1. Transverse aerial view of the summit cone of Mt Vesuvius. In the background the settlements on the flanks of the volcano and the city of Naples. Photo: Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli.

Figure 2. Transverse aerial view of the western area of Napoli (Agnano) within Campi Flegrei. The craters of Solfatara , (on the right) and Nisida (in the background) were formed in pre-historical time. Photo: Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli

In case of volcanic unrest, emergency plans, available only for Vesuvius, enforce the evacuation of about 500,000 inhabitants from the communities surrounding the volcano. Given the unknown pattern of possible precursors, and the high number of people that would be affected by such measures, it is likely that the pre-planned contingency measures may not work. There is a similar situation also in the area of Campi Flegrei with more than 350,000 people residing in zones that may be affected by volcanic phenomena. In this paper we examine several historical volcanic eruptions in the area and identify some critical issues that may jeopardize the measures taken to reduce the impact of volcanic phenomena.

2. Historical explosive eruptions in the Neapolitan area and their impact on human environment The first problem to understand during a volcanic crisis is the character of the eruption, as an effusive event with the emission of lava flows will affect only the buildings and agricultural land, but not human life. On the contrary, an explosive eruption destroys everything around the volcano up to a distance, depending on the violence, of 10-25 km. Neapolitan volcanoes have mixed styles of activity: Campi Flegrei displays a predominant explosive activity, whereas Vesuvius has had a predominant effusive style in the last 300 years, but predominant explosive activity after long quiescence periods, like those which preceded the violent eruptions of 79 A.D., and 1631, or the present one. In the following we will examine the three explosive eruptions that occurred at Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei after long quiescence periods.

3. The eruption of Vesuvius of 79 A.D. Vesuvius is a volcano well known for its devastating eruption during Roman time in 79 A.D., which destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum killing thousands inhabitants (Giacomelli et al., 2003). Pliny the Younger CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura


described the eruption, and the attempted rescue of the inhabitants made by his uncle Pliny the Elder, the admiral of the Roman fleet. The description closely fits the reconstruction of the eruption based on the interpretation of volcanic deposits (Sigurdsson et al., 1985). The eruption was preceded by earthquakes that lasted for many days, with several crises occurring also decades before (Cubellis et al., 2007). The early phase started at midday of 24 August of 79 A.D., and was characterized by a sustained eruption plume formed by the eruption of a mixture of fragmented magma and gas rising to a height of 24 to 32 kilometers above the crater. The prevailing stratospheric wind caused the dispersion of the plume toward SE and the deposition of a thick layer of pumice with a thickness of up to 3 meters in Pompeii. It is likely that, during this phase, the area to the east of the volcano was in a total darkness. Herculaneum, to the SW, was relatively less affected in the early phase. During the night between the 25 and 26, the violence of the eruption increased and there was the emplacement of several pyroclastic flows caused by the collapse of the eruption plume and the sliding along the flank of the volcano of a dense mixture of hot gas, ashes and pumice which determined the complete destruction of all buildings, and living creatures within a radius of 10-15 kilometers from the volcano (Figure 3). A total of about 5 km3 of magma were erupted in less than 48 hours (Sigurdsson et al., 1985). In Pompeii, 394 corpses were found in the pumice fall deposits and 650 in the pyroclastic flows (Figure 4). About 90% of the first group were found in houses, and were probably killed by the collapse of roofs because of the pumice weight; a smaller number of victims were found outside of buildings, probably killed by falling roof slates or by larger rocks thrown out by the volcano. An equal number of corpses, in the pyroclastic flows, were found inside and outside the houses (Giacomelli et al., 2003). A total of about 1,500 victims was estimated taking into account also the unburied part of the town. The total number of people living in Pompeii was between 10,000 and 20,000 which gives a percent ranging between 15 and 7.5% of people who remained in town and were killed by the eruption. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli

Figure 3. The ruins of Pompeii lie at a distance of 8 kilometers from Vesuvius. Photo: Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli.

Such percentages are surprisingly low for people who did not know that the mountain above their city was an active volcano or did not know anything about volcanoes. We do not know whether those that escaped were killed or not by the eruption, but however they reacted to the events and attempted an escape to their fate. A similar percentage of victims versus total number of inhabitants is found in Herculaneum

4. The eruption of Monte Nuovo in Campi Flegrei in 1538 The eruption started on 29 September 1538 after more than two years of occasional earthquakes and ground deformation. On the day before the eruption, the seismic activity dramatically increased along with the rapid uplift of the ground, which rapidly dried the beach near the CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

Figure 4. Cast of one of the victims of the eruption of 79 A.D. of Vesuvius. Photo: Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli.

site of the eruption (Parascandola, 1947). The eruption began with explosions driven by the interaction between the magma and sea-water, Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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and progressed to a typical Strombolian eruption with mild explosion ejecting scoria and rapidly building a small cone because of the accumulation of scoria and cinder, and forming a new hill (Monte Nuovo). The eruption lasted several days and caused destruction in the immediate surrounding of the eruption site destroying the village of Tripergola along with a hospital and ten thermal baths. The seismic activity caused widespread damage in the nearby city of Pozzuoli that was almost all leveled to the ground (Parascandola, 1947). A group of about 15 people, who had climbed the cone during a period of relative calm on 10 October, was killed by a sudden explosion. Most of the people living in Tripergola and Pozzuoli escaped from the villages in the night before the eruption, because of the strong


seismic activity which terrorized everyone. A testimony reported: “In the year 1538, in the day of St Jerome (28 September) a big earthquake was felt in the city, which was shaking up and down, and all the city revolted and was all evacuated, and everyone was going to Naples or in the fields and it seemed as the all world was falling down. People were running naked, and while I was running with my wife and children, I saw, in the proximity of the city doors of Pozzuoli, a lady named Zizula, wife of master Geronimo Barbiero, who, vested of only one shirt and wildly uncombed, was riding a horse like a man, and everyone was crying and asking the remissions of sins. At one hour in the night, a fire vent opened near the hospital in the place called ‘La fumosa’ in the middle of the sea, ejecting a great amount

Figure 5. The cone of Monte Nuovo was formed during the 1538 eruption of Campi Flegrei, and destroyed the village of Tripergola. Presently it is completely surrounded by buildings. Photo: Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli.

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Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli

of pumices and rocks. Such vent then progressed toward land and completely destroyed the castle of Tripergola, which was, then filled with sand and rocks making a new mountain, as is seen today (30 July of 1587)”1. The eruption of Monte Nuovo erupted less than 0.1 km3 of magma but substantially changed the morphology of the area and affected an area in the order of tens of square kilometers (Figure 5). Overall the eruption may be classified as a mild explosive eruption.

5. The eruption of Vesuvius in 1631 The great eruption of 1631 is the largest explosive eruption of Vesuvius since those of 79 A.D., and 472 A.D. It occurred after at least 131 years of quiescence. Large trees covered the Gran Cono, the cone within the Somma Caldera, and local people did not remember it being a volcano. The mountain was called “La Montagna di Somma” (the Mountain of Somma, a small town on its northern side). Several months before the beginning of the eruption, people near the volcano felt some earthquakes (Braccini, 1632). They were not particularly scared because earthquakes from the nearby Apennine chain were often felt in the area (a large one had occurred three years before in Apulia, in 1628). The seismic activity became

more severe in the few days before the eruption. A violent seismic crisis was felt during the night between 15 and 16 December 1631. A strong explosive eruption started in the morning of 16 December 1631 with a sustained eruption plume, which dispersed pumice and ashes to the NE. The paroxysmal occurred on the following day with the emission of pyroclastic flows, and mud-flows that destroyed all the villages in the immediate surrounding of the volcano. The number of casualties is reported as 4,000 deaths and a lesser number of injuries. Besides the overall destruction of numerous villages and people, also extensive loss of cattle, and arable land is reported. The relative large number of casualties (approximately 10% of the overall population) is to be ascribed to the poor planning of rescue operations. Actually in the night before the eruption, the seismic crisis scared most people in the vicinity of the volcano and also in Naples (Figure 6). Most people around the volcano fled toward Naples, but were forbidden to enter the city because of fear of the plague. Even if the order was revoked, and more than 40,000 people were allowed to enter into Naples, more than 4,000 were reported killed during the major paroxysmal stage and were engulfed in the pyroclastic flows (Giuliani, 1632).


L’anno 1538 nel giorno di San Geronimo (28 settembre) si sentì in detta città un gran terremoto, il quale allo spesso pigliava e lasciava, e tutta la città si mise in rivolta e quasi tutta disabitata, andando a Napoli e per le campagne chi fuggiva in un luogo, e chi in un altro e pareva che il mondo volesse subissare, e la gente fuggiva etiam nuda e fuggendo esso testimonio coi suoi figli, e sua moglie, ritrovò alla porta di Pozzuoli una donna nominata Zizula, moglie di mastro Geronimo Barbiero, la quale andava in camicia a cavallo di un somiero alla maniera mascolina scapellata e tutti piangevano e gridavano misericordia. E come fu verso un'ora in due di notte uscì una bocca di fuoco vicino al detto ospidale, nel largo nominato ‘La Fumosa’ da centro mare, e menava gran moltitudine di pietre pomici e di arena, e venne detta bocca di fuoco così aperta ad accostarsi al castello di Tripergola e tutto lo sconquassò, e rovinò, e poi lo riempì di arena, di pietre e vi fece una montagna nuova in 24 ore dove in fino ad oggi si vede” (30 luglio, 1587).

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Figure 6. Drawings of the eruption of Vesuvius of 1631 with people escaping from the volcano crossing the Maddalena bridge in the proximity of Naples. Source: Private collection.

It is apparent from the short review of historical eruptions in Italy occurring after long periods of quiescence that they caused casualties

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mostly because of the ignorance of the volcanic phenomena, and even in this case the casualties were only a minor fraction of the total population. Most people had sufficient time to flee from the area endangered by the volcano because of the earthquake activity before the beginning of the eruption. The escape to a distance of 10 to 15 kilometers from the volcanoes was sufficient to prevent any loss of life. The awareness of precursors and the gradual buildup of volcanic activity are the reasons why, also on a planetary scale, volcanic eruptions have caused a limited number of casualties unlike earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. In many cases, the escape from the effect of a


volcanic eruption has been made also during the early phase of the activity. In the last 300 years only a few eruptions have caused a large number of casualties as shown in Table 1 (after Blong, 1984, Simkin and Siebert, 1994). In one case (Tambora), the eruption was of an extremely large size and caused extensive damage on a local scale on the island of Sumbawa, and prolonged climatic effects on the planetary scale like also the Laki eruption. The eruptions of Krakatau and Unzen caused a tsunami that was responsible for the majority of casualties. The casualties in the relative lesser magnitude events of Pelée and Ruiz were caused by an under-evaluation of the effects of the eruption.



Casualties Cause

Laki (Iceland)


Unzen (Japan)


14,524 70% Landslide, 30% Tsunami

Tambora (Indonesia)


92,000 90% Famine

Krakatau (Indonesia)


36,417 90% Tsunami

Pelée (Martinique)


29,025 Pyroclastic Flows

Ruiz (Colombia)


23,080 Mudflows

9,350 Famine

Table 1. Eruptions responsible for the largest number of casualties in the last 300 years 2010. Source: Scandone and Giacomelli, 1998.

6. Education and planning for a volcanic emergency In Italy, the current planning of the Department of Civil Protection for a volcanic emergency (available at http://www.protezione E12771 for Vesuvius volcano), is based on the evacuation of the endangered areas as soon as the monitoring network detects any unrest which is likely to lead to an eruption. Unfortunately there is no specific formula that makes it possible to work out a realistic threshold above which an eruption is absolutely certain. Furthermore, the high number of people living in the area makes the evacuation order unlikely to be issued long in advance, because of the economic costs in case of failure of the forecast.

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Most past and recent examples suggest that clear signs of an impending eruption may be observed only in the hours before the outbreak, thus making any planned, large scale, evacuation unlikely to succeed. Moreover, the size and character of an impending eruption are completely unknown, and, at the moment, there is no known relationship between the character of precursors and the character of the following event if any (explosive or effusive) so there is great uncertainty as to whether the total evacuation of the area surrounding the volcano is necessary or is underestimated. The current planning has a second major flaw, as the alleged capability of State Agencies to deal with disasters generates a false sense of security in people thus reducing the individual response to natural hazards, as for example, has Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli

been observed during the seismic crisis of 2009 at L’Aquila in Abruzzo (Italy). The result of this has been a growth of the urban settlements in the volcanic area without any self-control. For many years scientists have warned the civil authorities of the potential risk of volcanic activity in the Neapolitan area, even if in their efforts they may have over-emphasized the true relevance of volcanic phenomena, thus creating a syndrome of an inescapable catastrophe and the need for strict measures to prevent it. Planning for emergency should be carried out by State Agencies, which should clearly state the real effect of volcanic activity, and the measures that can be taken by individuals to reduce the risk. At the same time, the possible failure of emergency planning has to be presumed, and the rules for behavior be suggested for individuals that may find themselves within an area already affected by volcanic phenomena. This line is far from being attained, as it requires a specific preparation not only of citizens, but also of Civil Protection officials and scientists, with an open admission of the limits of knowledge regarding forecasts on natural hazards. Environmental education in primary and secondary school may help to overcome this divide, but it is often difficult to maintain a balance between the credibility of public institutions and individual actions, as the two may sometime conflict, especially during a crisis. 7. Conclusions The basic principles that should be conveyed to the people living in a volcanic area are about the nature of volcanic phenomena, their effects and the distance at which they are relevant. People should have knowledge of the area where they live and of the necessary measures that should be taken in case of unrest, not only by the Civil Protection, but also by individuals. They should know the forecast limits and be ready to adopt individual escape measures in case of failure of prediction. Preventive measures taken by State Agencies should convey the clear limits of forecasts concerning the size of an impending event, the

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duration of precursors and the timing of evacuation. Alternative plans should allow not only a mass evacuation of the area before the eruption, but also the possibility of the total failure of the planned measures, and the rescue of a disordered mass of refugees during the early phases of the eruption.

References 1. Blong R.J., Volcanic Hazard, Sidney, Academic Press, 1984. 2. Braccini G.C., Dell’Incendio fattosi al Vesuvio a’ XVI Dicembre 1631, e delle sue cause ed effetti, Napoli, Roncaglioli, 1632. 3. Cigler B.A., “Post-Katrina Hazard Mitigation on the Gulf Coast”, Public Organiz. Rev., 9, 2009, pp. 325-341. 4. Cubellis E., Luongo G. and Marturano A., “Seismic hazard assessment at Mt. Vesuvius: Maximum expected magnitude”, J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 162, 2007, pp. 139148. 5. Fournier d’Albe E.M., “Objectives of Volcanic Monitoring and Prediction”, Journ. Geol. Soc. Lond., 136, 1979, pp. 321-326. 6. Giacomelli L., Perrotta A., Scandone R. and Scarpati C., “The eruption of Vesuvius of 79 AD, and its impact on human environment”, Episodes, 26, 3, 2003, pp. 234-237. 7. Giuliani G.B., Trattato del Monte Vesuvio e de’ suoi incendi, Napoli, Longo, 1632. 8. Parascandola A., I fenomeni bradisismici del Serapeo di Pozzuoli, Napoli, Genovese, 1947. 9. Pesaresi C., Marta M., Palagiano C. and Scandone R., “The evaluation of ‘social risk’ due to volcanic eruptions of Vesuvius”, Natural Hazards, 47, 2008, pp. 229-243. 10. Scandone R., “Il rischio da colate di lava e implicazioni socio-economiche”, Atti del convegno “I Vulcani Attivi dell’Area Napoletana”, Napoli, 1977, pp. 103-106. 11. Scandone R., Arganese G. and Galdi F., “The Evaluation of Volcanic Risk in the Vesuvian Area”, J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 58, 1993, pp. 261-273. 12. Scandone R. and Giacomelli L., Vulcanologia: Principi Fisici e Metodi di Indagine, Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Roberto Scandone, Lisetta Giacomelli

Napoli, Liguori, 1998. 13. Sigurdsson H., Carey S., Cornell W. and Pescatore T., “The Eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79”, Nat. Geog. Res., 1, 1985, pp. 332387. 14. Simkin T. and Siebert L., Volcanoes of the world (II edition), Tucson, Smithsonian Institution, Geoscience Press, 1994.

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15. Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Centre, Managing large-scale risks in a new era of catastrophes: Insuring, mitigating and financing recovery from natural disaster in the United States, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Centre, 2008.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 35-42 DOI: 10.4458/1005-05

Parental nutrition knowledge, geographical area and food habits in Italian schoolchildren: is there a link? Noemi Bevilacquaa, Irene Fabbria, Veronica Angelinia, Laura Censia, ZOOM8 Group1 a

The Agricultural Research Council (CRA) – Former National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition (INRAN), Rome, Italy Email:

Received: October 2012 – Accepted: November 2012

Abstract Child obesity is growing constantly and its prevention is still one of the main public health targets, but unfortunately not all the factors of the phenomena are well understood yet. Parents, particularly mothers, play a key role in what and how much children eat, so they might also play a leading part in obesity prevention. This study investigates parental nutrition knowledge in order to evaluate its importance. For this purpose, in 2009 a representative sample of 2,193 8-9 year old children was measured in 3 geographical areas of North, Center and South Italy. Nutritional status, food habits, lifestyle and parental nutrition knowledge were evaluated. 9.8% of children were obese, 13.5% in the South, 10.2% in the Centre and 5.9% in the North. 32.7% of the parents showed good nutrition knowledge level, this knowledge was statistically associated (p=0.001) with the geographical area: 40.9% in the North 35.1% in the Centre and only 21.3% in the South. An association (p=0.001) between the information about breakfast and actual frequency of consumption was found: when a parent considers this meal as “quite important” we observed that 48.6% of the children have breakfast every day vs. 82.0% of children raised in families where this meal is considered “very important”. When parents think vegetables should be eaten “more than once a day” we observe that the percentage of children eating vegetables at least twice a day (18.4%) is visibly higher (p<0.001) if compared with those whose parents consider “once a day” to be enough (5.4%); whereas when the parents assess the recommended portion as “1-2 times a week” this percentage drops to 0.8%. 1

Laura Censi, Dina D’Addesa, Amleto D’Amicis, Veronica Angelini, Noemi Bevilacqua, Giovina Catasta, Irene Fabbri, Myriam Galfo, Deborah Martone, Romana Roccaldo, Elisabetta Toti (The Agricultural Research Council – Former National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition, Rome, Italy); Angela Spinelli, Giovanni Baglio, Anna Lamberti, Paola Nardone (National Centre for Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion, National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy), Daniela Galeone, Maria Teresa Menzano, Maria Teresa Scotti (Ministry of Health); Maria Teresa Silani, Silvana Teti (Regional School Office for Lazio Region); Adriano Cattaneo e Paola D’Acapito, Claudia Carletti (Friuli Venezia Giulia Region), Federica Pascali (Liguria Region), Giordano Giostra (Marche Region), Giulia Cairella e Esmeralda Castronuovo (Lazio Region), Giuseppina Fersini e Marina La Rocca (Calabria Region), Simonetta Rizzo e Achille Cernigliaro (Sicilia Region).

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Noemi Bevilacqua, Irene Fabbri, Veronica Angelini, Laura Censi, ZOOM8 Group

Even if further analyses are needed to confirm these findings, we can affirm that it is very important to run in-depth studies to better understand the home environment in which children are raised in order to develop adequate programs cut on parents’ nutrition knowledge and background, otherwise the interventions may not be as effective as they should be. Keywords: Child Obesity, Nutrition Knowledge, Food Habits

1. Introduction Child obesity has reached worrying levels worldwide (WHO, 2008), both in Europe and in Italy (Branca et al., 2007). Among European school-age children, Italians showed one of highest obesity prevalence (Branca et al., 2007; Spinelli at al., 2011 and 2012). It is a condition caused by different factors: genetic, cultural and environmental, but mainly behavioral. It represents a tremendous burden for children, their families and society and its prevention is one of the main goals for public health. Unfortunately all the factors of the phenomena are still not well understood. A large body of research has found genetic links between parents and child obesity (Day et al., 2011, Wardel et al., 2008) but relatively little research has assessed the role of family nutrition awareness. Childhood is a vital period for the acquisition of healthy lifestyles and food habits, as it has a huge influence on reducing risk factors for chronic diseases. In this phase children are dependent on their families to form life-long lifestyle and food habits. Parents, particularly mothers, play a key role in what and how much their children eat, so they might also play a primary role in obesity prevention (Spinelli et al., 2009). Parents’ behavior influences children’s long-term energy balance and weight status (Faith at al., 2012). They influence children’s food preference and intake pattern through the food they make available, child feeding practices and their own eating behavior (Vereecken et al., 2004; Hebestreit et al., 2010). The family environment includes sociodemographic factors: consistent evidence shows that people with a low socio-economic status show worse nutritional conditions, with several aspects being able to affect food consumption: nutritional knowledge, nutritional budget or nutritional behavior (Fernández-Alvira et al., 2012; Turrel et al., 2003; Galobardes, et al., Copyright© Nuova Cultura

2007). This study investigates parental nutrition knowledge in order to evaluate its role in child nutrition and the state of the art in different Italian geographical areas.

2. Methods The “OKkio alla SALUTE” study (Spinelli et al., 2009), carried out under the supervision of the Italian National Institute of Health, stated the need for an in-depth study on food habits and lifestyle in children aged 8-9 years. On the basis of the results of this study the Italian territory was divided into 3 geographical areas – North, Centre and South – defined by low, medium and high prevalence of obesity. For this purpose alone, the Zoom8 study in 2009 investigated a representative sample of 2,193 8-9 year old children in the North (Friuli Venezia Giulia and Liguria), Centre (Marche and Lazio) and South of Italy (Calabria and Sicilia). The ponderal status was evaluated by Body Mass Index on the basis of weight and height collected by trained personnel. Data collection was run by “OKkio alla SALUTE study” (Spinelli et al., 2009) shared protocol, based on international procedures (WHO, 1995) and international cut-off (Cole et al., 2000) for data interpretation. An “ad hoc” questionnaire was given to the parents in order to collect information about their nutrition knowledge and to collect information about children’s food habits and lifestyle. The questionnaire consists of a series of questions on families’ socio-economical status, parental nutrition knowledge, children’s lifestyle (computer, television watching and sport or playground activities), parental lifestyle plus a section about children’s food consumption Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Noemi Bevilacqua, Irene Fabbri, Veronica Angelini, Laura Censi, ZOOM8 Group

frequency. The family nutritional knowledge level was obtained by giving a score to each question about nutritional information. The parents’ level of knowledge about child nutrition was investigated with a series of questions about the importance of breakfast, the ideal breakfast, the eligible drink for a child, the importance of after sport snacking, the recommended frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption and how they consider, from a quantity and adequacy point of view, a fruit and /or yogurt snack. These questions were evaluated one by one and were also used to give a score to each item of parental nutrition knowledge. On the basis of this score the parents were divided into 3 groups with a low, middle and good nutrition knowledge. The study project was submitted and approved by the ethics committee of the Italian National Institute of Health; each child was enrolled in the study only after their parents had been informed of the aim and the content of the study and had signed their written consent. Funding for this study was provided by the Italian Ministry of Health/Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Chapter 4393/2005 – CCM. The statistical processing was carried out with Stat Soft 6.0; frequencies, means and standard deviations were calculated for all the variables. The analysis on the associated risk factor was carried out by testing the significativity through the Chi squares test. The statistical significance was considered for p values <0.05.


35.1% in the Centre and only 21.3% in the South. In the 3 areas we registered also a difference (p<0.001) in the mothers’ educational level: in the North 50.9% of mothers had a secondary school qualification and 18.2% a degree; in the Centre 53.2% had a secondary school qualification and 19.5% a degree and in the South 42.2% had a secondary school qualification and 14.8% a degree.

Figure1. Nutritional Knowledge.

In-depth analysis carried out on single aspects showed a good outline on breakfast information (Figure 2): 93.1% of parents recognized it as a “very important meal” and 93.8% recognized a “cup of milk with bread and jam” as the proper breakfast, with no differences in the 3 geographical areas.

3. Results In the sample 9.8% of obesity was registered, with a gradient in the 3 geographic areas: 13.5% in the South, 10.2% in the Centre and 5.9% in the North. From the analysis of parental general nutrition knowledge (Figure 1) we found out that 32.7% of the sample showed good knowledge, 54.0% medium and 13.3% low. This knowledge was statistically associated (p=0.0001) with the geographical area: in the North 40.9% of the parents presented a good level of knowledge, Copyright© Nuova Cultura

Figure 2. Knowledge about breakfast.

Yogurt and fruit, as a snack for morning and/or afternoon break, were considered enough Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Noemi Bevilacqua, Irene Fabbri, Veronica Angelini, Laura Censi, ZOOM8 Group

in quantity by 79.3% of the parents and adequate in nutrients by 82.7% of them, with no geographical differences (Figure 3).

Figure 5. Knowledge about snacking after sport.

Figure 3. Knowledge about yogurt and fruit as snack for morning or afternoon break.

4.1% of parents think that no snack is necessary for children after sport, 23.2% think the children need a heftier snack on sports days than other days, and 72.7% think that the after sport snack should be the same as for other days (Figure 5). This opinion does not show any differences in the geographical areas.

Figure 4. Knowledge about eligible drink for children (excluding water), divided by geographical areas. Figure 6. frequency.

Water was considered the eligible drink for children by 81.5% of their parents, 88.7% in the North, 80.1% in the Centre and 75.1% in the south, with statistical differences (p=0.001). On the other hand, fruit juice was considered suitable for children by 21.6% of parents from the South, 9.0% from the North and 17.2% from the Centre (Figure 4).

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35.4% of parents understands that children should eat vegetables several times a day, with differences among areas (p=0.001): 45.5% in the North, 41.0% in the Centre and only 18.9% in the South (Figure 6). In the southern regions a fair amount of parents (44.6%) believed that eating vegetables just 3-4 times a week is enough.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Noemi Bevilacqua, Irene Fabbri, Veronica Angelini, Laura Censi, ZOOM8 Group


has to be heftier than on normal days the percentage of children showing this habit was 76.2% (Figure 8). When parents think that snacking should not be different from any other day this percentage was 60.9%, and 24.4% with parents stating that there should be no snack at all after sport. These percentages were statistically different (p=0.001).

Figure 7. Everyday breakfast frequency consumption on the basis of parental knowledge about breakfast importance and adequacy.

Crossing parental nutrition knowledge with food habits, we discovered an important association (p=0.001): when a parent considered this meal as “quite important” the percentage of children having breakfast everyday was 48.6%, when the parent believed breakfast is “very important” this percentage increased to 82.0% (Figure 7). Therefore, dividing the sample on the basis of what the parent considered the right breakfast, we found out a different (p=0.001) percentage of children that had breakfast everyday: 80.7% of them had a parent who thinks that “a cup of milk with bread and jam” is an adequate choice, 56.9% “fruit juice and cake” and 69.1% “tea and biscuits”.

Figure 9. Vegetable frequency consumption (once or more a day) divided by parental knowledge.

When parents know that vegetables have to be consumed several times a day we had a higher (p=0.001) percentage of children eating vegetables (Figure 9) twice a day (18.4%) in comparison to those who thought it “is enough to eat them once a day” (5.4%) and who considered that “it is enough to eat them 1-2 times a week” (0.8%). The perception that there were a number of obstacles (economic, preparation time and availability) to vegetable consumption showed an association (p<0.005) with eating frequency: children coming from families where a parent feels that there was some obstacle to eating vegetables at least one per day were 59.4% vs. the 74.6% of those who thought there was no obstacle to vegetable consumption.

4. Discussion and conclusions Figure 8. After sport snack consumption divided by parental knowledge.

If families thought that snacking after sport Copyright© Nuova Cultura

In this study we investigated the association between parental nutrition knowledge, food habits and some dietary and lifestyle behaviors among children living in 3 different Italian geographical areas, with different prevalence of overweight/obesity. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Noemi Bevilacqua, Irene Fabbri, Veronica Angelini, Laura Censi, ZOOM8 Group

In our sample a total of 9.8% of obese children was registered, with a similar NorthSouth gradient highlighted by the OKkio alla SALUTE survey (Spinelli et al., 2012): 13.5% in the South, 10.2% in the Centre and 5.9% in the North. An association between parental nutrition knowledge and geographical areas was found. In the South of Italy parents showed the worst situation with regard to general knowledge and the single aspect of nutrition. Several studies show that nutrition knowledge seems linked to children’s nutritional habits (Vereecken et al., 2004; Sausenthaler et al., 2007; Fisher at al., 2002): parents influence children’s food preferences and intake pattern through the food they make available, the types of child feeding practices and their own eating behavior. In our sample an association between vegetable frequency consumption and parental knowledge was found, the same was found in another Italian study (Grosso et al., 2012) in which a direct linear effect was shown for vegetable consumption and nutrition knowledge. On the other hand we found an association between vegetable frequency consumption and the parents’ feeling that there are some obstacles to consuming them (economic, preparation time and availability). This seems to confirm that the parental attitude is one factor which addresses children’s food preferences – as suggested by Wyse et al. (2011) and Grosso et al. (2012) – acting like role models for food intake (Fisher et al., 2002) or providing available food in the home (Birch et al., 2001). Looking also at the general situation we can state that children coming from families with a good nutrition knowledge show good food habits: breakfast, vegetable and snack frequency consumption, confirming the idea that parental information can have a positive role in children’s food habits (Grasso et al., 2012; Sausenthaler et al., 2007). In Italy several studies based on nutrition education were developed and majority of them were targeted at schools (Capacci et al., 2012). But the main problem of the majority of these nutrition intervention studies is at the level of impact evaluation: not all the studies, in fact, show results that can be easily evaluated while some of them are based only on a specific aspect Copyright© Nuova Cultura

of food habits that are, on the contrary, easier to evaluate (Zappalà et al., 2008, Dulcetti et al., 1997). In general is difficult to evaluate the impact of one nutrition program and it may take several years to do so. If further analysis is needed to confirm our findings, we can suggest that it could be important to run in-depth studies to better understand the home environment where children are raised in order to develop adequate programs on nutrition beliefs. It is not easy to plan an adequate nutrition program but it is advisable to include parents in these schemes, as their participation may have an impact on the final result. Moreover, the study showed different parental nutrition knowledge in the diverse geographical areas of Italy suggesting the importance of intervention policies that will take into account territorial and environmental specificity.

References 1. Branca F., Nikogosian H. and Lobstein T. (Eds.), The challenge of obesity in the WHO European Region and the strategies for response, Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2007. 2. Birch L.L. and Davison K.K., “Family environmental factors influencing the developing behavioral controls of food intake and childhood overweight”, Pediatr. Clin. North Am., 48, 4, 2001, pp. 893-907. 3. Capacci S., Mazzocchi M., Shankar B., Macias J.B., Verbeke W., Pérez-Cueto F.J., Kozioł-Kozakowska A., Piórecka B., Niedzwiedzka B., D'Addesa D., Saba A., Turrini A., Aschemann-Witzel J., BechLarsen T., Strand M., Smillie L., Wills J. and Traill W.B., “Policies to promote healthy eating in Europe: a structured review of policies and their effectiveness”, Nutr. Rev., 70, 3, 2012, pp. 188-200. 4. Cole T.J., Bellizzi M.C., Flegal K.M. and Dietz W.H., “Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey”, BMJ, 320, 2000, pp. 1240-1243.

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Noemi Bevilacqua, Irene Fabbri, Veronica Angelini, Laura Censi, ZOOM8 Group

5. Day F.R. and Loos R.J., “Developments in obesity genetics in the era of genome-wide association studies”, J. Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics, 4, 4, 2011, pp. 222-38. 6. Dulcetti R., Bosio M., Calaciura A., Canziani C., Fuca N., Invernizzi D., Merisi A., Morelato S., Morelli C., Olivieri M., Premate R., Tudisco R. and Vezzon M.A., “Evaluation of a nutritional education program for school children”, Medico & Bambino, 1, 1997, pp. 44-47. 7. Faith M.S., Van Horn L., Appel L.J., Burke L.E., Carson J.A., Franch H.A., Jakicic J.M., Kral T.V., Odoms-Young A., Wansink B., Wylie-Rosett J. et al., “Evaluating parents and adult caregivers as ‘agents of change’ for treating obese children: evidence for parent behavior change strategies and research gaps: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association”, Circulation, 125, 9, 2012, pp. 1186-1207. 8. Fernández-Alvira J.M., Mouratidou T., Bammann K., Hebestreit A., Barba G., Sieri S., Reisch L., Eiben G., Hadjigeorgiou C., Kovacs E., Huybrechts I. and Moreno L.A., “Parental education and frequency of food consumption in European children: the IDEFICS study”, Public Health Nutr., 12, 2012, pp. 1-12. 9. Fisher J.O., Mitchell D.C., Smiciklas-Wright H and Birch L.L., “Parental influences on young girls’ fruit and vegetable, micronutrient, and fat intakes”, J. Am. Diet Assoc., 102, 1, 2002, pp. 58-64. 10. Galobardes B., Lynch J. and Smith G.D., “Measuring socioeconomic position in health research”, Br. Med. Bull., 81-82, 2007, pp. 21-37. 11. Grosso G., Mistretta A., Turconi G., Cena H., Roggi C. and Galvano F., “Nutrition knowledge and other determinants of food intake and lifestyle habits in children and young adolescents living in a rural area of Sicily, South Italy”, Public Health Nutr., 29, 2012, pp. 1-10. 12. Hebestreit A., Keimer K., Hassel H., Nappo A., Eiben G., Fernandez J.M., Kovacs E., Lasn H., Shiakou M. and Ahrens W., “What do children understand? Communicating health behavior in a European multicenter Copyright© Nuova Cultura











study”, J. Public Health, 18, 2010, pp. 391401. Sausenthaler S., Kompauer I., Mielck A., Borte M., Herbarth O., Schaaf B., von Berg A. and Heinrich J., “Impact of parental education and income inequality on children’s food intake”, Public Health Nutr., 10, 1, 2007, pp. 24-33. Spinelli A., Lamberti A., Baglio G., Andreozzi S. and Galeone D. (Eds.), OKkio alla SALUTE: sistema di sorveglianza su alimentazione e attività fisica nei bambini della scuola primaria. Risultati 2008, Roma, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rapporti ISTISAN 09/24, 2009. Spinelli A., Lamberti A., Nardone P., Andreozzi S. and Galeone D. (Eds.), Sistema di sorveglianza OKkio alla SALUTE. Risultati 2010, Roma, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rapporti ISTISAN 12/14, 2012. Turrell G., Hewitt B., Patterson C. and Oldenburg B., “Measuring socio-economic position in dietary research: is choice of socio-economic indicator important?”, Public Health Nutr., 6, 2003, pp. 191-200. Vereecken C.A., Keukelier E. and Maes L., “Influence of mother’s educational level on food parenting practices and food habits of young children”, Appetite, 43, 2004, pp. 93103. Wardle J., Carnell S., Haworth C.M. and Plomin R., “Evidence for a strong genetic influence on childhood adiposity despite the force of the obesogenic environment”, Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 87, 2, 2008, pp. 398-404. World Health Organization, Physical Status: The Use and Interpretation of Anthropometry, Report of a WHO Expert Committee, Geneva, 1995. World Health Organization, Obesity. Preventing and managing the global epidemic, Report of a WHO Consultation on obesity, Geneva, WHO, 1998. Wyse R., Campbell E., Nathan N. and Wolfenden L., “Associations between characteristics of the home food environment and fruit and vegetable intake in preschool children: a cross-sectional study”, BMC Public Health, 11, 2011, pp. 938. Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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22. Zappalà S., “Frutta Snack: Risultati del Monitoraggio Focus Group e Indagine con Questionario”, 2008, http://www.theocom-

Copyright© Nuova Cultura doc_records/attachment/sintesi_monitor.pdf.

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Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 43-50 DOI: 10.4458/1005-06

Integrate geographic skills with active learning in geography: a case of Turkey Eyüp Artvinlia a

Faculty of Education, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Eskişehir, Turkey Email: Received: November 2012 – Accepted: December 2012

Abstract This paper has two dimensions: Active learning and geographic skills in school geography. It is essential to integrate active learning with geographic skills in a framework of a geography curriculum in order to reach a better geography education in schools. After the renovation of the geography curriculum of high schools in Turkey in 2005, there has been a new viewpoint of learning and teaching geography in schools. One of the most important points of this approach is based on educating students according to eight special geographic skills in the context of active learning. The geography curriculum brought these skills together to cater for students at all levels of high schools. These skills include understanding students, the subject matter of geography, the strategies that may be adopted in the classroom, and ultimately, the ways in which these are combined to create effective geography criteria. Skills in geographical education may also be taken to refer to those skills that students may be expected to develop as a result of their experiences in their geography classrooms. The skills based Turkish geography curriculum includes these geographic skills: Map skill; Observation skill; Fieldwork skill; Geographic inquiry skill; The Skill of Preparing and Explaining Tables, Graphics and Diagrams; Chronology Skill, Skill of Using Evidence; Skill of Perception about Change and Continuity. In this study, I try to investigate the change in the way of learning geography in Turkish high schools according to skills based education. The result of this study shows that the Turkish geography curriculum has a good skills-based structure but the geographic skills are not sufficiently connected to active learning methodologies within the content of the curriculum. Keywords: Geographic Skills, Active Learning, Constructivism, Geography Curriculum, Turkey

1. Active learning in geography Most of the educators agree that the active learning process is better for students’ understanding and development in many areas. And many teachers and educators would like to be such educators for students. Copyright© Nuova Cultura

The active learning process starts to stop thinking the teaching way and starts to think how the students learn. So it is necessary not to think about teaching for teachers but to focus on learning by students. This also means that if something is learned by students it is because Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Eyüp Artvinli

they are active. All learning is active in a certain sense, but some kinds of learning are more active than others. The term “active learning” covers a wide variety of learning strategies aimed at encouraging active student participation in learning (learning-by-doing). Ideally it should also encourage active reflection on learning activities (INLT). Active learning is about learning by doing. It involves a student-focused approach (Prosser and Trigwell, 1999). There is considerable evidence that well-designed active learning is an effective way of student learning (Biggs, 2003; Ramsden, 2003). It has been suggested that learning requires more than simple activity. Rather, it requires students to both do something and to think about what they are doing or have done (Bonwell and Eison, 1991). Moreover, Gibbs (1988, p. 9) suggests: “It is not enough just to do, and neither is it enough just to think. Nor is it enough to simply do and think. Learning from experience must involve linking the doing and the thinking”. Some authors described their experience using active learning strategies in a major assignment, which was often a courselong assignment, such as Carbone and Power’s (2005) weather journals, Hooey and Bailey’s (2005) journal of world events, Pandit and Alderman’s (2004) international student interview, and Chacko’s (2005) exploring youth cultures research project. If we accept that reflection is a necessary component of successful active learning strategies, we can look to theories of experiential learning to guide us in how we might incorporate reflection into our classroom activities (after INLT, 2006). Despite these difficulties in applying active learning in classrooms, most of the geography educators argue that active learning strategies are effective in geography lessons (Buckley et al., 2004; Klein, 2003). Healey, Pawson and Solem (2010) stated that geography provides a useful context for exploring approaches to active learning and student engagement for several reasons. According to them geographers are by nature sensitive to diversity and its many cultural and demographic manifestations, not the least of which concerns the increasingly diverse character of college and university students.

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With regard to this point attention should be paid to skills education in geography. Plum argues that geography must be a more project based lesson than listening to a lecture (2007, p. 246). According to this author, students should not start on a discipline study like economics or geography or chemistry. They should learn to see the world in a more complex understanding than the disciplines cutting pieces of the reality from the world. It was not the disciplines which look at the important problems in the society (Plum, 2007, p. 244). Everybody thinks that geography is a subject which is the middle of daily life, but in the classroom it does not have a character like that but is a memorization subject. Kirchberg (2000, p. 5) made a good description of geography lessons: The didactics of geography is living in a world of illusion. The perfect lesson plans presented in journals and the necessary articles on theory correspond less and less to what is happening in the classroom. Have we closed our eyes to reality? Pupils have changed their behavior patterns, their interests and their attitudes towards learning. Therefore teaching geography has become more difficult. The situation of geography education was like the crisis which Kirchberg described after the 1940s in Turkey. Geography in Turkey could not avoid being a boring subject in schools, of which the graduated students could not be teachers until today (Artvinli, Bulut and Kaya, 2007, p. 29). In this context, it should be seen as important to discuss new and previous curriculum in the context of skills education. It is important to emphasize “geographic skills” as one of the most important main aims of and key to active learning in renovated geography curriculum of 2005. In Turkey, after the renovation of all curriculums in primary and high schools, there are visible changes related to the notions of education, learning, and teaching. Generally it can be said that there is a radical transformation about the student-centered approach in education from the viewpoints of “what to teach, how to teach, how much to teach, what to use while teaching” to a viewpoint of “what the student wants to learn, what s/he will do to learn, what can help his/her learning, how much s/he learns etc…” (Bery and Sharp, 1999; Lea, Stehanson and Tray, 2003; Hartly, 1987). The Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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transformation of minds into this point of view do not immediately affect the behavior of people or educators. Active learning is seen as the key element of a student-centered approach in order to construct the classroom process in that way. The renovated geography curriculum of Turkey brings a new driver to apply effective active learning in geography classrooms by setting out the geographic skills of the curriculum.

2. Geographic skills Geographic skills are a very important personal benefit from geography for the future generations. To prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce, the challenge for geography educators is one of connecting disciplinary instruction with more general training that yields marketable and valued skills in the modern workplace (Hill, 1995; Richardson and Solis, 2004; after Solem, Cheung and Schlemper, 2008, p. 357). The International Charter on Geographical Education in 1992 states that learning Geography involves skills in data forms, field methods, map work, interviewing people, interpreting secondary resources, applying statistics and decision making (pp. 7-8); according to Gerber (2006, p. 21). The development of the skills used by geographers is essential to conduct any detailed form of geographical investigation. On the other hand, Karen A. Thomas-Brown (2011, p. 182) argues that geographical learning involves learning about the nature of environments, climates, natural resources, and human, cultural, political, and spatial contexts of places. These, in essence, underscore the geographical skills that students in today’s global society need if they are to function as effective global citizens. Developing analytical skills in geography must occur, according to Reinhartz and Reinhartz (1990), through the answers that one gives to the following questions: “What?”, “Where?”, “Why there?”, “What is the meaning of this location?”. According to these researchers, these are the questions that foster critical analysis among students in geography. In the same vein, the associations that contributed to the development Copyright© Nuova Cultura

of the National Geography Standards Project 19942 specify that the skills they aim to develop can be summarized in five categories: 1) to ask geographic questions; 2) to look for geographic information; 3) to organize geographic information; 4) to analyze geographic information; and 5) to answer geographic questions. Thus, to ask pertinent questions such as “where?”, “how?”, and “why?” shows a sense of observation and the development of a critical spirit (Benimmas, 2006, p. 76). According to Ostapuk (1997, p. 198) as geography teachers, we have an opportunity to pass to our students the legacy of geographic literacy. We must go beyond the content of geography in our efforts to help our students become geographically informed. The five geographic skills sets allow us to actively involve our students in doing geography. In this study questions are:




 What kind of geographic skills does the Turkish geography curriculum include?  What kind of content does the Turkish geography curriculum have in order to integrate geographic skills into active learning?

3. Research aim The purpose of this study is to examine the teaching and learning of geography in high schools of Turkey from the skills education perspective. In addition it aims to discuss the connection between the aims of geographical curricula and geographic skills which take part in the curriculum. In this way, this study aims to bring to geography teachers and educators’ attention how they can achieve the aims of the geography curriculum by setting the geographical skills at the center of their classroom process organizing.

4. Research method This study is descriptive literature research in which a qualitative method approach was used. Qualitative research approaches collect data through observations, interviews, and document Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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analysis and summarize the findings primarily through narrative or verbal means (Creswell, 2012; Lodico et al., 2006). In this research document analyses were used in order to investigate the geography curriculum according to geographic skills and active learning.

5. Data collection and analysis There are many ways to collect qualitative data for a qualitative approach. We used document analysis for this research. Documents consist of public and private records that qualitative researchers obtain about a site or participants in a study, and they can include newspapers, minutes of meetings, personal journals, and letters. These sources provide valuable information in helping researchers understand central phenomena in qualitative studies. They represent public and private documents (Creswell, 2012, p. 223). The analysis can range from an extraction of general themes to a narrow, specific and detailed analysis. It may use either quantitative analysis (e.g. counting the number of times that a theme occurs) and/or qualitative analysis (e.g. identifying the major themes). In either case it is important to document the criteria which are used to make decisions about rating and analyzing material (Duignan, 2008). Firstly active learning and geographic skills in geography was investigated in literature with its positive effects in the process. Document analysis was used in order to compare the geographic skills and aims of the Turkish geography curriculum. After that it was discussed how to achieve the aims of the Turkish geography curriculum by using and applying geographical skills in the curriculum according to the findings. Finally it was suggested that geographic skills are the main aims and key of active learning in the 2005geography curriculum in Turkey.

6. Findings. Geographic skills and aims of geography curriculum The geography curriculum has been changed a few times between 1941 and 2005 in Turkey. Most of these changes have been evolutionary, Copyright© Nuova Cultura

not revolutionary (Taş, 2005, p. 35). As a result, due to the absence of a standard curriculum as well as the predominance of memorization, teachers and students have faced numerous problems at schools. On the other hand, the 2005 curriculum of Turkey stresses that: “Teachers must make use of the events in and out of the school to show the importance of geography in life. Students must be able to solve problems by learning real life problems and contradictory situations” (MoNE, 2005, p. 7). In this renovated curriculum, there has been an endeavor to help geography education to compare current ideas prevalent in the 1992 International Charter on Geographical Education (IGU-CGE, 1992). So it can be argued that it is one of the best reforms of geography education in Turkey. The 2005 curriculum’s general approach to geography education and some renovations in it: •

Student-centred, enquiry-based and more flexible (MoNE, 2005);

It brought a new approach, method and content for geography education in Turkey;

It provides a holistic approach through which it aims to develop a geographic knowledge base, skills, values and attitudes in students with particular attention to pedagogical concerns;

New and the most comprehensive geography curriculums in the history of Turkey;

Constructivist approach to learning and teaching in schools;

New (active) learning styles and aims;

New evaluation process and techniques;

New teacher training programs;

New textbooks from the new viewpoints.

The Turkish geography curriculum emphasizes geographical enquiry and progress rather than delivering some concrete body of geographical knowledge. Then it gives a great deal of importance to the fact that various

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learning methods should involve students actively through an activity-based and constructivist education. These are possible only by developing skills that will enable students to observe patterns, associations, and spatial order. In fact, many of the skills that students are expected to learn involve the use of tools and technologies that are part of the process of geographic inquiry. There are eight special geographic skills in the Turkish geography curriculum of high schools: 1. Map Skill;

3. Understand the relations between the basic elements of the world and life; 4. Understand the working and changing of the nature and human systems; 5. Have consciousness to take care values of one’s country and the world; 6. Know their responsibility about the working of the ecosystem; 7. Know their responsibility about saving human and natural resources; 8. Examine/scrutinize the interactions at local and global processes;

2. Observation Skill; 3. Fieldwork Skill;

9. Know that progress must be in harmony with nature;

4. Geographic inquiry skill; 5. The Skill of Prepare and Explain Tables, Graphics and Diagrams; 6. Chronology Skills;

10. Know natural disasters, environmental problems, and develop precautions against them;

8. Skill of Perception of Change and Continuity (MoNE, 2005, p. 19).

11. Know the importance of environmental, cultural, political and economic organizations in view of geography and international relations;

It is possible to say that these skills also prepare the students internationally to the five sets of geographic skills as follows (Geography for Life: The American Geography Standards, 1994):

12. Have consciousness of the importance of Turkey in view of its local and global relations, geographical position, and that Turkey is a geographical synthesis country;

7. Skill of Using Evidence;

Asking geographic questions;

Acquiring geographic information;

Organizing geographic information;

Analyzing geographic information;

Answering geographic questions.

In the Turkish curriculum, it is emphasized that the thirteen general aims of the geography curriculum should be achieved by pupils before they graduate from high schools. These general aims are presented below: 1. Understanding the theoretical and conceptual frame of geography and use research and presentation techniques, used in the formation of geography information; 2. Have the ability to human-nature relations;

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13. Know the importance of geographical values in obtaining “motherland consciousness”. When the geography curriculum is examined, it can be seen clearly that it is impossible to achieve these general aims without applying geographic skills in the classrooms. It is possible to give students the standards with a teacher centered approach. But that way cannot give students any vision of the challenges and drivers in the future world. Geographic skills should be at the centre of every planned lesson if the teachers want to succeed in achieving the aims of the curriculum. In other words, it is the key element to try to achieve geographic skills in lessons in order to achieve the general aims of the geography curriculum.


7. Conclusions Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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Although one of the best and the first student-centered curriculum we have, the new innovative curriculum reform has not been understood very well by teachers and educators in Turkey. Seven years have passed since the curriculum was first applied by teachers but most of them try to apply it in their own ways. There is not enough awareness on focussing not on the standards within the curriculum but on geographic skills and the general aims of the curriculum. The previous curriculum was teachercentered and based on mostly the explaining method. It must be told that the training of geography teachers is not parallel with the new curriculum’s skills. Most of them have used only the explaining method for many years. What will happen in the future then if the teachers cannot really put the new curriculum and its geographic skills into practice? What are the best and new student-centered methods to achieve geographic skills? How can we start to apply them? These are all problems posed by the new curriculum. These problems can be unanswered maybe because of the gap between the approach and methodology of the geography curriculum. The curriculum does not include enough information and the ways as to how to apply those contents in the classrooms during the teaching-learning process. But on the other hand it is possible to find more than 35 pages of explanation about assessment only. For that reason, the problem of geography teacher training is maybe the most important problem in this curriculum revolution if the teachers do not apply the new curriculum and if they are not educated again in student-centered and active learning. Although the developed curriculum has a variety of educational objectives in geography, a wide range of geographic skills, and the encouragement of the students to research and solve problems they cannot find geography textbooks to develop themselves in the same way. When it is considered that the aim of the new curriculum is to reach “geographic skills”, it must be argued that the ways of teaching geography in classrooms should be renewed according to a geographic skills education by new teacher education programs in Turkey. Copyright© Nuova Cultura


References 1. Artvinli E., Bulut İ. and Kaya N., “Teaching of Geography in Turkey: New Roles for a Renovated Subject”, in Catling S. and Taylor L. (Eds.), “London ConferenceChanging Geographies: Innovative Curricula”, Proceedings of the IGUHERODOT conference, England, Institute of Education, University of London, 2007, pp. 29-36. 2. Benimmas A., “Teaching Geographic Reasoning, Changes in Geographical Education: Past, Present and Future”, in Purnell K., Lidstone J. and Hodgson S. (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education, Australia, 2006. 3. Bery J. and Sharp J., “Developing StudentCentered Learning in Mathematics through Co-Operation, Reflection and Discussion”, Teaching in Higher Education, 13562517, 4, 1, 1999, pp. 27-41. 4. Biggs J., Teaching for Quality Learning, Society for Research into Higher Education (2nd edition), Buckingham, Open University Press, 2003. 5. Bonwell C.C. and Eison J.A., “Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom”, ERIC Digest, 1991, 6. Brown K.A.T., “Teaching for Geographic Literacy: Our Afterschool Geography Club”, The Social Studies, 102, 5, 2011, pp. 181189. 7. Buckley G.L., Bain N.R. and Luginbuhl A.M., “Adding an active learning component to a large lecture course”, Journal of Geography, 103, 6, 2004, pp. 231-237. 8. Carbone G.J. and Power H.C., “Interactive exercises for an introductory weather and climate course”, Journal of Geography, 104, 1, 2005, pp. 3-7. 9. Chacko E., “Exploring youth cultures geographically through active Learning”, Journal of Geography, 104, 1, 2005, pp. 916. Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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10. Creswell J.W., Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th edition), Pearson Education, Inc., 2012. 11. Duignan P., “Methods and analysis techniques for information collection”, Outcomes Theory Knowledge Base Article, 219, 2008, 12. Gerber R., “An Internationalised, Globalised Perspective on Geographical Education”, in Purnell K., Lidstone J. and Hodgson S. (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education, Australia, 2006. 13. Gibbs G., Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods, London, UK, Further Education Unit, 1988. 14. Hartly D., “The convergence of Learnercentered Pedagogy in primary end further end education in Scotland 1965-1985”, British Journal of education studies, XXXV, 2, 1987, pp. 115-128. 15. Healey M. and Roberts J., Engaging Students in Active Learning: Case Studies in Geography, Environment and Related Disciplines, School of Environment, University of Gloucestershire, 2004. 16. Healey M., Pawson E. and Solem M. (Eds.), Active Learning and Student Engagement: International Perspectives and Practices in Geography in Higher Education, Routledge, 2012. 17. Hooey C.A. and Bailey T.J., “Journal writing and the development of spatial thinking skills”, Journal of Geography, 104, 6, 2005, pp. 257-261. 18. IGU-CGE, International Charter on Geographical Education, Washington, USA, International Geographical Union, Commission on Geographical Education, 1992. 19. INLT, “Discussion Paper Active Learning in Geography: does ‘dabbling’ in active learning techniques encourage deep learning?”, Brisbane INLT Workshop, 2006, Copyright© Nuova Cultura

49 ap5post1.rtf. 20. Kirchberg G., “Changes in Youth: No Changes in Teaching Geography? Aspects of a Neglected Problem in the Didactics of Geography”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 9, 1, 2000, pp. 5-18. 21. Klein P., Active learning strategies and assessment in world geography classes, Journal of Geography, 102, 4, 2003, pp. 146-157. 22. Lea S., Stehanson D. and Tray J., “Higher Education Students’ Attitudes to Studentcentered learning: beyond educationalbulimia”? Studies in Higher Education, 28, 3, 2003, pp. 321-334. 23. Lodico M.G., Dean T., Spaulding D.T. and Voegtle K.H., Methods in educational research: from theory to practice, JosseyBass, A Wiley Imprint, 2006. 24. MoNE, Geography Curriculum and Guide (9-12. Grades), Ankara, Turkey, T.C. Ministry of National Education, Board of Education, 2005. 25. Ostapuk M.A., “The Dragon and the Anchor: Using a Field Experience, Journaling, and Writing to Teach the Five Geographic Skills Sets”, Journal of Geography, 96, 4, 1997, pp. 196-210. 26. Pandit K. and Alderman D., “Border crossings in the classroom: The international student interview as a strategy for promoting intercultural understanding”, Journal of Geography, 103, 3, 2004, pp. 127-136. 27. Plum V., “Learning Geography and Skills for the Labor Market: Project Work-An Active Way of Learning”, in Catling S. and Taylor L. (Eds.), “London ConferenceChanging Geographies: Innovative Curricula”, Proceedings of the IGUHERODOT conference, England, Institute of Education, University of London, 2007, pp. 244-250. 28. Prosser M. and Trigwell K., Understanding Learning and Teaching: The Experience of Higher Education, Buckingham, Open Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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University Press and Society for Research into Higher Education, 1999. 29. Ramsden P., Learning to Teach in Higher Education (2nd edition), London, Routledge Falmer, 2003. 30. Sharma M.D., Millar R. and Seth S., “Workshop tutorials: accommodating student centered learning in large first year university physics courses”, International Journal of Science Education, 21, 8, 1999, pp. 839-853.

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31. Solem M., Cheung I. and Schlemper M.B., “Skills in Professional Geography: An Assessment of Workforce Needs and Expectations”, The Professional Geographer, 60, 3, 2008, pp. 356-373. 32. Taş H.İ., “Geographic Education in Turkish High Schools”, Journal of Geography, 104, 1, 2005, pp. 35-39.

Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 53-62 DOI: 10.4458/1005-07

A matter of buildings. Damage to material elements of landscape and uncertainties about the future after the Pianura Padana earthquake (May-June 2012) Gianluca Casagrandea a

Geographic Research and Application Laboratory (GREAL), Università Europea di Roma, Rome, Italy Email:

Received: November 2012 – Accepted: December 2012

Abstract The Pianura Padana earthquake caused heavy material damage to a relatively wide and composite geographic system. Cultural heritage was also seriously affected by the earthquake; several landmarks in the area were lost. Large buildings, including socially relevant ones, will not be used any longer either because destroyed in the seismic sequence or because repairing of suffered damage is not feasible or costefficient. Beyond the immediate economic and material consequences of the disaster, therefore, the earthquake induces non negligible changes in the region’s landscape. Although the problem appears to be limited to technical and economic evaluations, it turns out to be important from the standpoints of cultural and social geography as well. Any change in spaces brings about changes in the way they are perceived and felt by inhabitants. In other words, according to the well-known Yi Fu Tuan’s interpretation, any change in spaces implies a change in places. The Pianura Padana earthquake caused a tragic toll of victims and heavy impacts on local economies; but it also determined conditions which will affect, in the medium and long run, some views that people in the area will have about places of their daily life. Strange as it seems, in the final analysis this change in views, that is to say, something intimately geocultural in nature, depends upon the fact that some structures could stand the earthquake stresses better than others; or that some structures – even unique landmarks – were not fitted with strengthening equipment to upgrade their seismic-resistance capabilities. The sense of a belonging to a place and a community is something deeply immaterial and intimate. But it does depend, in a certain degree, on the perception that individuals and groups develop about the material elements surrounding them. In some cases, therefore, some part of the amor loci may become a matter of buildings. Keywords: Post-Earthquake Survey, Oblique Aerial Imagery, Cultural Geography

Between May and June 2012 a relatively wide region of the Pianura Padana was struck by a seismic sequence. The main-shocks occurred repeatedly between May 20th and June 3rd, but the sequence continued with lower energy Copyright© Nuova Cultura

throughout the summer. Over 2,400 earthquakes were detected in the area by the Istituto Italiano di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV). The damaged area, spanning over 50 kilometers eastwest and about 20 kilometers north-south, Italian Association of Geography Teachers


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includes portions of three Italian administrative regions1 and six provinces2. The strongest shocks (5.9 Richter on May 20th3, 5.8 and 5.3 on the 29th4, 5.1 on June 3rd) caused 27 fatalities, over 300 injured and about 16,000 evacuees (Casagrande, 2012). As of this writing, a few thousand people are still waiting for new permanent accommodation after having lost their homes. As a resident in the area, I personally experienced several moments of the events. As a researcher in geography I also visited and surveyed several sites in the area, both during the days of the earthquake and in the following months. Some surveys were conducted with the aid of micro-UAVs. Four additional aerialphotography missions for lab documentation were flown using a micro-light aircraft. This survey methodology, described in a previous work of mine (Casagrande, 2011) is particularly simple and effective for a qualitative comprehension of several geographic phenomena. The earthquake affected, overall, at least 800,000 people in over 100 townships. Between May 20th and July 27th, firefighters conducted a total of 63,067 basic inspections to buildings in the three regions (Dipartimento della Protezione Civile, 2012). National and regional Civil Protection operators documented over 37,475 building inspections according to the AeDES procedure5 in the Emilia Romagna region. The 1

Emilia Romagna, Lombardia and Veneto. 2 Provinces of Modena, Ferrara, Bologna and Reggio Emilia (Emilia Romagna), Mantova (Lombardia), Rovigo (Veneto). 3 Recorded by INGV at 04.03’52” local time on May 20th. The shock originated at a depth of 6.3 kms with epicenter in Finale Emilia (Modena), coordinates 44,889 N; 11,228 E. 4 INGV recorded an earthquake at 09.00’03” local time on May 29th. The shock originated at a depth of 5.8 kms with epicenter in Medolla (Modena), coordinates 44,851 N; 11,086 E. Three other major shocks occurred between 12.55’57” and 13.00’25” (5.3, 4.9 and 5.2 Richter) with epicenters in proximity. 5 AeDES (Agibilità e Danno nell’Emergenza Sismica, i.e. Usability and Damage in Seismic Emergency). AeDES procedures allow appropriately Copyright© Nuova Cultura

latter produced a relevant conclusion: about 36% of said total was classified usable, another 36% unusable and the rest was usable or recoverable under specific technical conditions6 (PCER, 2012) The earthquake took most of the population in the area by surprise. The region was known to have a moderate seismic potential and in the past 600 years (CPTI, 2011) several major earthquakes had occurred. Furthermore, over the past thirty years occasional earthquakes caused minor damage in neighbouring areas. Nonetheless, a widespread opinion arose and a consolidated one also that no dangerous earthquake could occur there. Such idea, taken for granted by the population through at least four centuries, led to specific, material consequences in how “reification” (i.e. the process of materially shaping the landscape) was managed. In particular, for many years before new requirements were established by law, little attention was paid to designing and constructing buildings so as to fit them with specific seismicresistant morphological and structural features. In several cases of damaged architecture experts ascertained the lack of basic elements for strengthening and protecting the structures from seismic shocks. They just seemed to not belong to the building tradition of the area; and this in spite of the fact that such elements were typical in other parts of the Italian peninsula, where the population was more accustomed to dealing with seismic phenomena (QUEST, 2012, p. 5). Many large buildings in the area were constructed, until a recent past, featuring structural configurations and geometries which would not be adequate to stand strong earthquakes. It is worth noting that even when the issue had become more and more evident as engineering, geophysics and architecture progressed, the widely shared idea that seismic trained Civil Protection personnel to perform a standardized evaluation of a building post-earthquake conditions. 6 PCER 2012 presented the following data: 17.53% of the considered buildings was temporarily unusable, but usable with provisional repair; 0.55% temporarily unusable, to be examined in more depth; 4.23% partially unusable; 5.47% was unusable due to an external danger. Italian Association of Geography Teachers

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events in the area would not be relevant did in fact delay or prevent the deployment of safety upgrades. As I will try to demonstrate below, this produced two different, distinctive consequences: the first one involves mainly human and economic geography; the second one social and cultural geography. Let us now focus on the first outcome of the earthquake, dealing with human and economic geography. When the 2012 earthquake struck, a large majority of collapsed or seriously damaged structures were industrial facilities, towers, castles, churches; but also other kinds of large buildings such as hospitals and schools. Two consequences are worth noting: the first one is that partial or total destruction of primary landmarks and monuments caused major losses in heritage of the past; the second one is that by damaging or destroying industrial facilities and production sites, the earthquake struck one of the crucial elements for present-day communities’ life. Besides direct damage, long term economic impacts will also follow. In a highly tertiary economy, as the one involved, many services may be jeopardized if some among the most valuable portions of the urban areas become unusable. It is important to notice that if more conservative approaches had been followed with regard to the seismic resistance of large buildings, some of them might have suffered less damage. This would have ensured protection, on the one hand, to precious pieces of historical heritage; on the other hand, to some of the most valuable nodes of the economic system. Both types of assets were in fact “pillars of excellence” for the area at different scales in the national and international contexts. Such excellence is now being questioned due to concerns about the region’s ability to recover. Damage to historical heritage and production facilities are two aspects of the earthquake with an enormous impact on economic life. Surprisingly, both problems were triggered by a cause which appears to be a minor one, from a geographic standpoint: the lack of anti-seismic features in large buildings. Such kind of protection, although expensive in itself, would have been cheaper than the Copyright© Nuova Cultura


currently planned interventions to reconstruct or reactivate damaged buildings, not to mention the fact that some of them are lost for good, either because their violated unicity (monuments) or because they were centers of activities which are now being moved somewhere else (industries). As far as houses and residential buildings are concerned, the case is quite complex and somewhat different. Old structures in historical areas within towns and cities suffered damage and collapse. The number of recent buildings which collapsed totally or partially is high only in a few locations near the epicenters of the strongest seismic shocks. Considering the whole area struck by the earthquake, most recent houses and buildings survived with moderate, minor damage or no damage at all. In several cases, structures were assessed to be damaged beyond repair so demolition is planned; nevertheless they survived a long and relatively violent seismic sequence without catastrophic collapses. This circumstance did yield the fundamental outcome of a low number of fatalities and injured. From the standpoint of public safety this is a very important fact, possibly an indication that residential architectures, although not technically antiseismic by design, were built for decades according to good concepts and accurate construction techniques: this might have played a role in giving them some degree of natural seismic resistance. After a general review of the reported effects, the following conclusion can be drawn. In comparison to other strong earthquakes in Italy, this earthquake took a relatively modest toll of lives and caused heavy material damage. The latter determined failures in the economic system of the area, although it did not determine a general catastrophic collapse. This circumstance, along with a vigorous reaction of local operators towards quickly resuming their activities, gave publicly the impression of an earthquake causing only a few victims and moderate damage. If the first belief might be true, at least from a statistical point of view, the second one is not. As a matter of fact, material and economic damage is extensive and will take a long time to recover; active participation by the European Union and the national Italian government with material and financial aid is Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Gianluca Casagrande

required, or the initial resilience shown by the region’s economic system will run out of resources (Confindustria, 2012). Let us now focus on the second consequence of the earthquake, i.e. the one related to social and cultural geography. Landscape in the stricken region is likely to change significantly; and so is the people’s perception of the places they live in. With particular regard to buildings, a first obvious comment is that some of them have a more or less high social relevance depending on their nature and functions: once a specific building is eliminated, its functions might not be fully recovered. In some cases there can be a correspondence of newly constructed buildings to the old ones. In many other cases, the spaces left empty by the old building are just reallocated for “a new thing”. In addition, buildings and spaces used by any population exist in the context of a landscape, of which they are, in turn, components. Both individually and as a complex they serve as material referents that the community perceives, shares and – so to speak – “breathes” in everyday life; a significant part of socially-shared symbolization is linked to this network of referents (Vallega, 2010, pp. 8286). This suggests that any future development of “reification” will impact on the intellectual control and, possibly, on the social perception of space. In other words, given that a community lives and feels its land through experience (Tuan, 1977) a change in spaces will probably produce significant changes in places as well (Calandra, 2012). Furthermore, if “organization” of production spaces (for farming, industry etc.) within a certain area was traditionally established according to specific features, at a certain point this might become a socially-shared way of “doing” and “thinking” spaces even beyond technical or operational needs. This means that a landscape which was originally “constructed” based on material needs, may become, after a sufficiently long period of time, a cultural and social combination of places whose general appearance marks the identity of a community. Many traditional production spaces and buildings, along with significant pieces of cultural heritage have become somewhat Copyright© Nuova Cultura

“minor” landmarks whose widespread presence in the landscape before the earthquake did effectively identify a specific subregion of the Pianura Padana. A dramatically large number of these buildings collapsed partially or totally during the seismic sequence; many others will be torn down and eliminated. As can be easily understood, the very nature and history of these buildings make it possible that no detailed documentation about them exists. A particularly effective example of the statements above can be found in Cavezzo, a town in the province of Modena, with about 7,000 inhabitants. It is the highest ranking location in terms of macro-seismic in the INGV QUEST team assessment. The historic center of the urban area is surrounded by fairly wide recently constructed expansions. Other small settlements lie within the municipality’s borders. The farming tradition of the area is widely indicated by the presence of many rural houses, warehouses and utility buildings. Many of these structures collapsed during the earthquake and are now visible as ruins. We flew over Cavezzo three months after the earthquake. In spite of some persisting seismic activity, works were in progress to ensure the safety of the damaged buildings and to conduct major demolition in the center of the town. In the aerial view, at first sight the town showed isolated spots of debris in an otherwise apparently intact urban setting. A careful study of images revealed indications of much wider problems: large cracks, provisional fences around structures were evident. In some buildings, the window shutters closed at mid-day indicated no current human presence inside. A simple ground-truth visit in Cavezzo confirmed an astonishing reality. A surprisingly high number of buildings downtown was so seriously damaged that even the worthiness of their repair is in question. It is clear that in the near future some traits of that landscape will be changed by people much more than they were changed by the earthquake. This kind of evolution is nowadays in progress at every corner of the geographic zone struck by the seismic sequence. Paradoxically, the relatively rapid re-start of activities in the areas of Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto which are striving to get back to “normality” Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Gianluca Casagrande

pushes the evolution forward. In the past six months many industrial and production activities abruptly interrupted by the seismic sequence were resumed; most of the tertiary sector even in the most heavily damaged areas went back to work. Meanwhile, these very actions are showing us the first examples of “places of after” which will replace, in the daily life and amor loci of the communities, the feeling of the “places of before”. Acknowledgements The Author thanks Prof. R. Paioli for his kind support in the research and Engineer M. Silvestri for his technical and aeronautical skills which ensured safety and efficiency during all surveying operations.

References 1. Calandra L.M., “Per una geografia sociale dell’Aquila post-sisma. Comunicazione visuale e nuove forme di democrazia”, in Cerreti C., Dumont I., Tabusi M. (Eds.), Geografia sociale e democrazia. La sfida della comunicazione, Roma, Aracne, 2012, pp. 287-312. 2. Casagrande G., Ricognizione del territorio e del paesaggio. Una ricerca sperimentale basata su immagini aeree oblique a bassa quota, Morolo, IF Press, 2011. 3. Casagrande G., “Considerazioni preliminari sulle conseguenze geografiche della sequenza sismica in Pianura Padana (maggio-settembre 2012)”, Bollettino della Società Geografica Italiana, 4, XIII, V, 2012, pp. 21-59.

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4. Confindustria Emilia Romagna, “Quadro della situazione e proposte per gli interventi urgenti in relazione agli eventi sismici del 20 e 29 maggio 2012 in Emilia-Romagna”, 2012, uisiti/Audizione%20informale%20Confindu stria%20e%20RETE%20imprese%20su%20 terremoto%20Emilia-Romagna/2012_06_06%20-%20Confindustria2.pdf. 5. CPTI, “Catalogo parametrico dei terremoti italiani”, 2011, 6. Dipartimento della Protezione Civile, “Verifiche di agibilità”, bilit.wp. 7. PCER (Regione Emilia Romagna, Agenzia Protezione Civile), “Emergenza sisma maggio 2012 Regione Emilia Romagna. Aggiornamento del 10.08.2012”, 2012, http: // dati-e-numeri-dalla-protezione-civile/report_ 10_agosto_2012.pdf. 8. QUEST, “Rapporto macrosismico sui terremoti del 20 (ML 5.9) e del 29 maggio 2012 (ML 5.8 e 5.3) nella Pianura PadanoEmiliana”, Roma-Bologna, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, 2012, QUEST_Emilia2012_RapportoFinale.pdf. 9. Tuan Y., Space and Place. The Perspective of Experience, University of Minnesota Press, 1977. 10. Vallega A., Fondamenti di Geosemiotica, Roma, Memorie della Società Geografica Italiana, 2010.

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Gianluca Casagrande

Figure 1. The “Ceramiche Sant’Agostino” industrial building collapsed at 4.03 on May 20th, taking the lives of two workers in the night-shift (Sant’Agostino, Ferrara). The facility was one of the plants operating in the area for the production of ceramic components and tiles. Photo: GREAL.

Figure 2. Collapsed buildings in the Mirandola (Modena) industrial district. Mirandola is a famous manufacturing area for biomedical instrumentation. Several plants in the whole earthquake area moved materials and activities from the damaged structures into provisional shelters such as tensile structures. One of them is visible in the photo. Photo: GREAL.

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Gianluca Casagrande


Figure 3. Mirandola. Damaged buildings surround the collapsed San Francesco church. The masonry structure failed catastrophically during the May 29th main-shocks. Photo: GREAL.

Figure 4. Downtown Concordia sulla Secchia (MO). Buildings in this area are very old masonry structures; many of them suffered partial or total roof collapse. Window shutters are closed in most of the visible buildings and there are no pedestrians nor cars in the streets. Since the picture was shot at 9.50 AM on Monday August 6th (a working day), the element suggests that almost all the blocks visible in the picture were deserted by inhabitants at the time. Photo: GREAL. CopyrightŠ Nuova Cultura

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Gianluca Casagrande

Figure 5. Disvetro is a hamlet in the township of Cavezzo (MO). The image shows two buildings of social relevance in the area: the church, well recognizable although almost destroyed by the May 29th shocks, and the school (top right), apparently intact but severely damaged. The school catalyzes much of the inhabitantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; attention and public campaigns are being conducted in these months to ensure that a school will be put into operation at Disvetro, without being delocalized somewhere else. The church, a typical rural religious landmark of the area was sided by a now disappeared bell-tower; large wooden-beams, from the collapsed roof are still leaning against the left side wall. Debris of the ruined parts lie outside and inside the building. In such conditions, a restoration attempt could well be beyond feasibility. Most of the other houses visible in the image are deserted or declared unusable. Photo: GREAL.

Figure 6. The historical center of Cavezzo shows extensive damage. In the foreground, debris from two houses grounded by the earthquake and demolition. Traffic visible outside the core of the town is clearly absent in the main square. Buildings around it suffered evident lesions, partial failures. Photo: GREAL.

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Gianluca Casagrande


Figure 7. The San Felice sul Panaro (MO) castle was one of the most important landmarks for this town, dating back to the age of the Estensi. The structure had been recently restored when the strongest shocks of the seismic sequence struck it repeatedly. The three minor towers collapsed and the rest was so badly damaged that the authorities were making arrangements for the demolition of the entire building. An emergency consolidation saved the castle. The grayish traces visible on the walls are the chemical fillings injected into the largest cracks. Attentive examination of the image reveals evident mis-alignments among different parts of the walls. Photo: GREAL.

Figure 8. After demolition and removal of debris, the site where the Camposanto (MO) kindergarten stood became an empty space. A playground and the emergency stairs, oddly standing against nothing, will keep a memory of the original function of the area for a brief time. Photo: Riccardo Paioli (December 13th, 2012).

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Gianluca Casagrande

Figure 9. Camposanto (MO). Slightly over six months after the earthquake, what used to be the town soccer playground became the site of the new school, built from prefabricated modules. The new building was inaugurated just a few days after the regular school-year begun and is now fully operational. If necessary, the structure could remain efficient for two or three decades. In that case, it would become a “landmark of experience” for one or two generations of pupils. None of them will share, as the previous three generations do, memories of the school that existed before. Photo: Riccardo Paioli (December 13th, 2012).

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Italian Association of Geography Teachers


Journal of Research and Didactics in Geography (J-READING), 0, 1, Dec., 2012, pp. 65-66

The empirical and rational teaching of geography1 One day I asked a friend of mine, who had written a large volume on a considerable part of the Earth, to summarise his work in just a few words. With great pleasure, he began by saying: first of all I gave a general look at the region; I then went on to describe it in its single orographic, hydrographical and climatic elements… – But sorry, I replied, I don’t think that I have explained myself properly; I didn’t ask you for a summary, I asked you for a brief synthesis, or, in other words, the results you have achieved with your work, which was also favourably received by the critics, and lastly what you managed to demonstrate. 

The results, he added, lie in the correction of many wrong names and facts, for the most part in the orographic, hydrographical and climatic elements examined...

But what did you manage to demonstrate with all this?

To demonstrate! I did not intend to demonstrate anything, almost worriedly, taking the words from my mouth.

I gathered the information as carefully as I could; I examined it critically and in detail and then I expounded the results of this as exactly as possible with regard to the orography, hydrography, climatology... and many other things ending in -ia, I interrupted him. That’s enough, that’s enough; I see the kind of work you do; it’s not worth me reading it. It seems to be the usual 1

Translation of the paper «Pietro Sensini, “L’insegnamento empirico e l’insegnamento razionale della Geografia”, L’Opinione geografica, 1904, pp. 3-4» by Victoria Bailes.

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old account of geographical phenomena detached from one another, listed together, numbered, under various headings, one after the other, but the reality, the surface of the Earth, the subject of our studies, the landscape hitting the visitor, the physical environment that so influences the formation of our ideas, the tendencies of our spirit, the vibrations, so as to say, of our feelings, are not made up of detached or detachable facts, listed and listable, of numbered and enumerable facts. While at a certain elementary level of education, due to pedagogical reasons, enumeration and lists can be justified, they are not instead from then on if one wants to avoid staying at the rudimental stage forever, if one wants to rise and see in the totality what before had been divided for reasons of expediency. It is necessary to reach the reproduction of everything in one single word, with one phrase or, at the most, with one period, as for example Petrarch did in his famous verse: …il bel paese Ch’Appennin parte, e ‘l mar circonda e l’Alpe.

Every place, every region, every river basin, every mountain chain, every sea, every ocean, in a geography at higher levels, must be expressed in one single phrase that must as such be linked and blended with its own name that recalling one, must at once bring the other to the memory or imagination. Each phenomenon, I repeat, natural as well as historical, that is, a valley just as a city, a mountain just as a road network, an island just as a plantation, passing through our pages, our descriptions, our analyses, in short, must not lose its own physiognomy, must not break up into a heap of shapeless ruins in which nobody can recognise the primitive architecture of the building. In this way we destroy what nature and man had

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built for one reason or another; we reduce everything that we had seen before going and listening to the utterly boring geography lessons to ugly knick-knacks, and which during our lives we will continue to see as greater, more harmonious, more imposing and more wonderful. The lack of any correspondence between scholastic knowledge and everyday experience, (I shall have many more occasions to demonstrate this), is, and will be, if no remedy is found, the true and basic reason for the geographic ignorance that is autocratically dominant in Italy. Not for this reason are our geography teachers, one will maintain, all to blame. If they teach empirically, the teachers of other subjects behave in the same way too, as far as I know for the most part; if they do not achieve the objectives contemplated by the legislators and the tax-payers, they must not be too sorry about this as they have many colleagues at all levels of education from primary school to secondary school, having in their memory what those who came before them did, and before their eyes what they continue and will continue to do, if those who follow them do not change direction. No special scolding can be

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directed at the geography teachers any more than at others; no special responsibility weighs upon them rather than upon others. On this we are in total agreement; but from establishing that more or less this has always been done, according to me, we must not draw the baleful conclusion that this must always be done, that it is useless to get worked up, rack oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brains to change; society is apathetic, thinking about anything but our geography, and our school issues. Unfortunately it is true; it is furthermore equally true that society, which we are now accusing in this way, came out of our schools; it was manufactured in these little sympathetic workshops, or rather, it was fed with the miserable debris of our analyses, with the tiny scraps of a body that we were never able to show the pupils in its entirety, in its well sculpted outlines, in its original and complete physiognomy. This is how I spoke to the friend who, when saying goodbye was more overwhelmed by my words than convinced by them, shaking his head and repeating over and over: â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Attempts; generous attempts, if you like; but nothing but attempts. Could that be true?

Italian Association of Geography Teachers

Finished printing in December 2012 Printed in Italy with “print on demand” technology by Centro Stampa “Nuova Cultura” p.le Aldo Moro, 5 - 00185 Rome for subscription: [Int_9788861341005_205x285col_0]

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