Well, yes, of course

Geography has become a “soft option” for students from privileged backgrounds expected to enrol at universities, an Oxford University professor has claimed.

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford, said British geography departments often have “some of the narrowest and poshest social profiles” when looking at the backgrounds of students.

You’re not actually going to subject bright kids who might actually be able to do something to an education by Danny Dorling, are you?

24 thoughts on “Well, yes, of course”

  1. Climate catastrophe, growing global inequality

    If they’re studying fake news, they can go straight into the main stream media to peddle fake news.

  2. “has become”?

    Twas ever thus! At both school and university! The chortles when someone admitted to studying Geography A-level or university were legion, and that was over 20 years ago!

  3. “But geography in the UK has become a soft option for those … [ who ] are not actually that good at maths, or writing, or reading.”

    The next lecture should be fun..

  4. Bright but poor kids have to pick a subject that will help them earn a living. Listening to Danny Dorling will not do so.

  5. Geography is just the easy bits of various other disciplines – history, economics, geology, etc- overlaid with map drawing. It leads directly to jobs in town planning departments and when did you last see a well – planned town?

  6. I visited the Oxford geography department this year and though it wasn’t an open day for sixth formers they still had the signage up for one. They had signs up advertising the appallingly high proportion of students getting a first, plus loads of banners announcing “98% of students in our department get a 2.1 or above, the highest in Oxford”. Basically admitting – and using as a selling point – at they’re the easiest subject in Oxford…

  7. One would have thought that, looking at the general ineptitude of its posessors in parliament, PPE is the softest option at Oxbridge!

  8. “at the start of the 1970s, boys from top public schools were not always expected to go to university … But, by the end of the decade, parents increasingly expected these youngsters to go to university …”

    That’s because in the 70s people like Dorling deliberately buggered up the state schools thus, presumably accidentally, making it easier for public school pupils to go to university.

    “Geography … acquired a tough image associated with climbing mountains and exploring”: ah yes, we wuz tough geezers in my day, says Dorling. Bless his little cotton socks!

    A thirty-something acquaintance read Geography at Cambridge having come from a state school.
    The toughest thing about it, he told me, was how much better educated the public schoolboys were. Ah, says I, that wasn’t true in my day.

    Of all the inequalities that we are meant to care terribly about, how about the inequalities that stem from the chance of where and when you were born? What luck to be born too early to be subjected to the takeover of the state schools by the Forces of Progress.

  9. Twas ever thus! At both school and university! The chortles when someone admitted to studying Geography A-level or university were legion, and that was over 20 years ago!

    Yes, this is not news.

    From my (very brief) glance at it, it seems to be as much Sociology (i.e. grievance) as Geography these days.

  10. Rob: Not too surprising I suppose. Geography used to be intrepid explorers finding out about the world. That’s essentially all done now & the ongoing monitoring is largely done from space, so the techies get first dibs on that. Now geographers have to start talking about our place in the landscape, and how we’ve changed it/fucked it up. They can’t talk about animals as that treads on the toes of zoologists & ecologists.

    PS did geography to O-Level, and wasn’t bad at it. I learned a lot about the world, and also where precisely was the town near where I now live, having heard its name on the football results for years.

  11. I didn’t have much choice circa 1970: A’level options Maths-Physics-Chemistry or English-History-Geography, no mix and match allowed even though the scheduling of the timetable would have made my preferred English-Chemistry-Geography possible. You can’t mix arts and sciences they said.

  12. @dearieme

    A thirty-something acquaintance read Geography at Cambridge having come from a state school.
    The toughest thing about it, he told me, was how much better educated the public schoolboys were. Ah, says I, that wasn’t true in my day.

    In a nice coincidence, I also know a thirty-something ex-grammar schooler who did Geography at Cambridge! And said exactly the same thing!! The precise complaint, IIRC, was that the ex public school kids were not any brighter than the others, but had been far more thoroughly schooled in the art of writing an essay. Could knock one off quickly (vital when most of your assessment is via timed written examination) with excellent structure and prose style, so even if the content was a bit vapid it would still tick all of the examiner’s requirements.

  13. Son wanted to do meteorology and was told he could do it as part of a geography degree, so he did a physics degree focusing on fluid dynamics in atmospheric systems instead as he said he wanted to understand how things really worked

  14. MBE: That rings a bell. In those far-off days I went for the Manchester Grammar School entrance exam twice & failed. I thought I was thick until I passed the 11+. Anyway, I’m sure the reason I failed was I couldn’t write an essay (or composition, as we called them) for toffee. The imagination wasn’t there & the words wouldn’t come. I was lucky on the Eng Lang O-level that one of the options was something I could write about so I got a very good grade.

  15. One of my contemporaries was generally acknowledged (by almost the whole year) to be “charming, but mentally negligible”. He is now a professor of Geography.

  16. @MyBurningEars

    My young chum’s opinion is that at school he was taught to memorise stuff but the public schoolboys were taught to question it.

  17. Danny Dorling – who?

    I dropped Geography end of third form as it was boring and too easy – teachers not happy “You’ll easily achieve an A at A-level” as I scored 68% in exam with zero revision; preferred Biol, Chem & Physics

    abacab: ““has become”? Twas ever thus! At both school..” – yep, 40 odd years ago here

    @dearieme November 28, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    +10

    @djc November 28, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Comprehensive school? Not comp for me was Eng, Maths & Furrin Lang, (and PE & Games*) compulsory, free choice of rest

    * PE – basketball to weights; Games – archery to ski-ing

  18. pcar. Well it was a boys technical grammar school when I started but more than twice the size and a co-ed comp by the time I left. The quality of education suffered. The lack of options was at A’level

  19. @djc

    Local Comp I might have been in permitted only two of three science (Biol, Chem, Physics) at A Level

    Unforgivable that political interference ruined your and millions of others education. Gov’t: if it works break it, then break it more & more & mor…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *