Young People's Geographies

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Having meaningful conversations to support geographical learning

Creating a positive future begins with human conversation - talking with other people as though the answers mattered...

         - The World Cafe Community, 2002

At the heart of the YPG approach is the notion of conversation. Young people ‘do’ conversation. It is part of their everyday lives and is the usual means through which they communicate with each other, with their families and sometimes even with teachers.

For many young people ‘conversation’ is a very loose term as its meaning implies not just the ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ of face-to-face contact where they plan their social lives, discuss their own matters of importance, and chat about the latest films, music and clothes. Conversation is also doable electronically via mobile phones and social networking sites such as Bebo, Facebook and MySpace, where texting, voicemail and instant messaging using mobile phones and email (with their own distinctive forms of spelling, grammar and punctuation) are also part of this ‘conversation’ process.


Building meaningful conversations

Conversation is used within the context of Young People’s Geographies as a metaphor for participation, and its effective use in the YPG approach has been informed by the World Café, ‘a global community of people dedicated to awakening and engaging collective intelligence through conversations about questions that matter, to nourish and renew life'.

The Power of Conversation

Conversation is a provocative metaphor enabling us to see new ways of making a difference in our lives and work. It provides the core process for sharing our collective knowledge and shaping our future. The power of conversation is so invisible and natural that we usually overlook it. Once we become aware of the power of conversation as a core process, we can use it more effectively for our mutual benefit.

World Café conversations are built on the assumption that people already have within them the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges. Given the appropriate context and focus, it is possible to access and use this deeper knowledge about what is important.

Source: The World Café Community, 2002

The World Café identifies seven key principles that underpin good quality, inclusive, exploratory conversations. These principles, applied to the often formal context of the classroom, can help to break down unhelpful barriers between teachers and students.

In conclusion

Conversation is an important feature of YPG as it is the process through which a more equal dialogue between students and teachers about the geography curriculum is established. Developing conversation processes requires careful thought and planning, but enables students to work with you to develop school geography.