Young People's Geographies

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Maps of Experience

Map of ExperienceMaps of YPG experiences as a process of reflection

Encouraging students to reflect on their personal geographies and consider how these shape and influence their everyday lives is challenging. Such reflections and discussions would normally be part of the early conversations between teacher and students to enable the curriculum making process. Maps of experience can be used as a way of beginning to 'map out' a particular curriculum unit, project or investigation.

An alternative approach is to maintain the curriculum unit and encourage students to map their experiences from the inception of a project or theme, through to the end, capturing the range of thoughts, ideas, experiences and emotions that influence their thinking along the way. This ongoing process will gradually build up a map as learning occurs. The maps of experience can be used as the unit unfolds to bring students' geographical lives more fully into focus and into the curriculum unit.

They can also be used as an evaluation opportunity whereby students and teachers individually or collectively review the curriculum and learning processes at the end.

The idea of mapping experiences comes from The Atlas of Experience (2000), an atlas written by two Dutch cartographers who used recognisable cartographic conventions and familiar looking topography to present 21 conceptual maps of life experiences. Maps of ‘Knowledge’, ‘Adventure’, ‘Health’, ‘Pleasure’, with features such as the Ocean of Possibilities, the Sea of Plenty, Mountains of Work or the Swamps of Boredom are subjective projections of life experiences.

Students are very capable of developing their own ‘Map of Experience’. Within the YPG project students from each school were invited to use this mapping process to reflect on their learning during the life of the project.


These maps were created by students participating in the YPG project. For a more detailed view of the maps, open the image files in your browser then zoom in using the magnifying glass (left mouse click). Alternatively, right click the image files to save them to your computer.

Map 1 (GIF 524k)

Map 2 (GIF 525k)

Map 3 (GIF 571k)

Map 4 (GIF 329k)

Map 5 (GIF 265k)

Map 6 (GIF 320k)