Saturday, 18 January 2020

Joy Tivy

In 2013, I was delighted to receive the Joy Tivy Education Medal from the Royal Scottish Assocation for Geography Teachers, presented to me by Professor Iain Stewart.
The most recent winner was Sir Ken Robinson.

It is awarded for exemplary, outstanding and inspirational teaching, educational policy or work in formal and informal educational arenas. 

Joy Tivy after whom the medal is named, is a name that has cropped up several times during the production of this blog.
From her Wikipedia page, shared under CC license

Human Impact on the Ecosystem (Conceptual frameworksJoy Tivy was a 20th century Irish physical geographer at the University of Glasgow. 
She specialised in biogeography and has been credited for having helped raise the profile of biogeography as a distinct sub-discipline of geography. She published over 40 papers, books and reports and she was often asked to advise government agencies and other organisations.
She was a strong advocate of the importance of field studies for providing essential skills for geography graduates.
Her capacity as a teacher was as highly regarded as her research — she was known to be enthusiastic and engaging to a wide range of audiences - a medal has been created by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in honour of her commitment to Geographical Education and Teaching.

She was the co-author of a book which I used during the early part of my teaching career when teaching 'A' level Geography. It is shown here. Some of you may recognise it.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Thought for the Day

"the lives of men are bound up with the little bit of earth that is given to each to love, and the student of geography must set himself to understand the links that bind him there, and not only these, but also the very different ones that bind him and his fellow men in all lands"
H. J. Fleure 
'Introduction to Geography' (1929, p.79)

Monday, 13 January 2020

1953: GA HQ and Library

Image from Balchin's Centenary of the GA, taken in old HQ 

I'd be delighted to see any images of the GA conferences, events, Presidents or other aspects of the work of the Association. There seem to be decades where few images exist other than portraits of people. I have some images coming up once we get closer to the President day, but not many others.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

1954: Professor Sidney William Wooldridge, CBE FRS

Professor Wooldridge was the first Professor of Geography at King's College, University of London, where he stayed for many years. 

His name has already appeared on the blog ahead of his rise to the Presidency, having been associated with other Presidents in terms of publishing and other endeavours, and his name will reoccur with later Presidents too. He was also active in the fight against the suggestion of geography joining with Social Studies during the 1940s and keeping its own identity.

Some details here are taken from his Wikipedia entry - shared under CC license - we are getting close to the point where Wikipedia entries stop being provided for GA Presidents. Perhaps we need to contribute some more.

Sidney Wooldridge was born in Hornsey, North London in 1900, the younger son of a bank clerk. His early childhood was spent in Surrey, and his later schooling in North London, where he also took evening classes in geology. He read geology at King's College London (1918–1921), graduating with a first-class degree.

In the 1920s and 1930s Sidney Wooldridge lectured at King's on a combined geography and geology course with the London School of Economics (LSE).

In the Joint School of Geography, King's offered Geomorphology, Meteorology, Biogeography and the History of Geographical Discovery. During WWII this arrangement was disrupted by the evacuation of King's to Bristol requiring Wooldridge to teach human geography.

His conversion to geography complete, he became professor of geography at Birkbeck College, London in 1944, returning to King's in 1947 as its first professor of geography and remaining until his death in 1963.

He was described in a piece from the Royal Society as "the doyen of British geomorphologists and a great champion of field studies of all kinds".

 In 1954. as President of the Geographical Association, his subject was ‘The status of geography and the role of field work’. 
In his address he stressed the need for developing at an early stage ‘an eye for country’—i.e. the capacity to read and interpret a piece of country, an accomplishment distinct from mapreading in that the ground and not the map is the primary document. Only those who have seen him in action with a field class can fully appreciate his mastery of the power to impart this accomplishment.

On his skill as a teacher:
Wooldridge had remarkable qualities as a teacher. He had the capacity to transmit his enthusiasm for his subject and the gift of clear exposition. He had a pungency of phrase which delighted his audiences and at times he took pleasure in being as provocative as he could. 
He enjoyed lecturing and gave freely of his time to universities, to training colleges, to field centres and to the Working Men’s College, Camden Town, with which he was for many years closely associated. In the words of a colleague writing in The , ‘it was his passion to bring to young and old the joy that comes from discovering for one’s self some new fact of landscape history and from fitting it into a developing pattern of new scientific knowledge’

Here is the announcement of his new post in 'Geography' in 1947

In 1949, he published an article 'On taking the 'GE' out of 'Geography'. This explored the status of physical geography (something which is still an issue for some - I remember some comments that many of the resources on the GA website were skewed towards what might be called 'human' topics.)

He also referred to the talk that was going on about the merging of history and geography, and the development of 'Social Studies' (something which has certainly been the case in the USA and some other curricula as well)

There were a few quotes in the article which are useful.

"Geography has never been the science of man, it is the science of land, of the Earth's surface"
(Sauer and Leighly)

It was during this time that he became the President of the GA. He had already held posts on the Council and Executive and therefore joined a group of Presidents who had held a great many roles to support the Association.

Image courtesy of:
Used under Fair Use, another image is in Balchin's Centenary book.

Wooldridge was a founder-member of the Institute of British Geographers (1933) and was later IBG president (1949–50). He did not break completely with the RGS, serving on its council (1947–51). 
More details on Wooldridge are contained in an article on the early days of the IBG, linked to here:

The following two images are taken from this source:

The Presidential address can be read on JSTOR for free with a free account.
Wooldridge, S. W. “Reflections on Regional Geography in Teaching and Research: Presidential Address.” Transactions and Papers (Institute of British Geographers), no. 16, 1950, pp. 1–11. JSTOR,
He started his address by explaining while regional geography is the real geography, despite the various different views.

This quote is a famous one...

He talks about the emphasis being placed on research work carried out overseas compared to work carried out in the UK, and this idea of 'otherwhereitis' is an interesting one.

Wooldridge also chaired the Field Studies Council in 1952. This was known as the Council for the Promotion of Field Studies at the time, before it became the FSC. I attended a special event to mark the FSC's 75th anniversary just before Christmas 2019.

The 'Wooldridge and Linton Model' of landscape evolution was dependent on the identification of remnants of three widely developed erosion surfaces. It was influential at the time, and is included in a range of textbooks. Linton read several papers to the IBG as well.

Wooldridge also collaborated with fellow King's alumnus (and GA President) L Dudley Stamp. Wooldridge's interest lay in relating early human settlement and land use to the physical landscape. In 1951 Stamp at LSE and Wooldridge at King's jointly edited London Essays in Geography. He also wrote with another GA President, S. H. Beaver.

He was also a major influence on another president Denys Brunsden, a student at King's College.
He described him as "a monumental presence".

His conference was described in this piece here.

Like L Dudley Stamp, Wooldridge married a King's geography student. He was a keen golfer and cricketer, a lay preacher (converting later to the Church of England and an amateur operetta enthusiast - shades of Rex Walford here.

He continued to work after a stroke in 1954.
He was made a CBE in 1954.
In 1957 he received the Royal Geographical Society's Victoria Medal and in 1959 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
He died in 1963, the year I was born.

In 1980 the Institute of British Geographers marked the fortieth anniversary of Structure, Surface and Drainage in South-East England by the publication of The Shaping of Southern England, a collection of papers which both emphasised the importance of the work, and showed how dated it had become. Fundamentally, the 'Wooldridge and Linton Model' was based on the view that the south-east region had been tectonically stable except for two brief periods, in the Upper Cretaceous and the mid-Tertiary. Subsequent work has shown that this view is far too simplistic, throwing much of the interpretation of cycles of landscape evolution into doubt.
(Source: Wikipedia)

He is quoted in this extract from a piece by Rex Walford (another GA President)

"'Go out into the field, for through the soles of your boots shall ye learn' . That somewhat simplistic dictum was often quoted to me in my school days, by a geography teacher ever eager for his pupils to have fieldwork experience. We clocked up the miles on field trips with missionary zeal, anxiously believing that virtue would accrue in large quantities if the hike was more than six miles and we came home raw-soled and properly exhausted. In a generation nurtured on the philosophy of the Le Play Society, inspired by the example of S. W. Wooldridge, and receptive to the outdoor exploits of the Baden-Powell organisations, field teaching and the development of an 'eye for country' became the Holy Grail for many geographers from the twenties to the sixties."
Rex Walford, 1984

Research is something that Sidney Wooldridge felt was particular important, and felt the association needed to both continue to support it, and be involved in it.

‘IF THE ASSOCIATION were to turn its back on research geography, there would indeed be small hope of engaging and retaining the interest and support of the university geographers’

(Wooldridge, 1955, p. 75)


Wikipedia page:

1938 article: Wooldridge, S. W. “TOWN AND RURAL PLANNING. THE PHYSICAL FACTORS IN THE PROBLEM.” Geography, vol. 23, no. 2, 1938, pp. 90–93. JSTOR,

Royal Society Biographical Memoirs publication:

On taking the 'Ge' out of 'Geography' - (1949)

Stoddart, D. R. “Progress in Geography: The Record of the I. B. G.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 8, no. 1, 1983, pp. 1–13. JSTOR, - source of the image above

Wooldridge, S. W. “Reflections on Regional Geography in Teaching and Research: Presidential Address.” Transactions and Papers (Institute of British Geographers), no. 16, 1950, pp. 1–11. JSTOR,
Wooldridge, S. W. “THE PHYSIQUE OF THE SOUTH WEST.” Geography, vol. 39, no. 4, 1954, pp. 231–242. JSTOR,

"The Status of Geography and the role of fieldwork" - Geography,. 40, p.73-83 (1955)

Image used under Fair Use from this Source

Bill Marsden
Describes Wooldridge's concern about the divide between school and academic geography - an area also touched on by another President Andrew Goudie.

Wooldridge was to resurface as a key figure in the geography versus geographical education encounters of the post-war period. He was a trenchant peer critic. In 1950 he addressed the IBG and scorned the contentment of his audience with ‘agreeably titillating’ articles on subjects of minor interest which made ‘no claim whatsoever to scholarship’ (Stoddart, 1983, p. 5). To Wooldridge a firm physical basis was the sine qua non of a high quality geography. He claimed that the social/urban orientation of the subject was becoming too strong. Geography, he maintained, was about ‘place’ and not about ‘man’ (Graves, 1975, p. 56). On the educational front he abhorred the analogous post-war trends towards introducing social studies into the curriculum. These he blamed on geographical educationists. The tendencies threatened to take ‘the ge- out of geography’, as he put it (1949, pp. 9–18). Social studies would On Taking the Geography Out of Geographical Education Some Historical Pointers in Geography Page 7 of 15 ‘destroy the value of geography as an important medium of education’ asserted the Education Committee of the RGS (1950, p. 181), in a report reputedly the work of Wooldridge. Like Geikie, he argued that the priority in schools should be detailed fieldwork in the rural landscape, developing a ‘laboratory spirit and the careful, indeed minute study of limited areas’ (1955, p. 80)

Also a piece on the Britannica website:

According to a leading British geographer, Sidney William Wooldridge, in The Geographer as Scientist: Essays on the Scope and Nature of Geography (1956, reprinted 1969), regional geography aimed
to gather up the disparate strands of the systematic studies, the geographical aspects of other disciplines, into a coherent and focused unity, to see nature and nurture, physique and personality as closely related and interdependent elements in specific regions.

According to this view, all geographers—whatever their systematic interests in particular classes of phenomena—should be regional specialists who appreciate the full complexity of phenomena combinations.
His papers are held at King's College, London

Image: 'The Spirit and Purpose of Geography' - pictured at Charney Manor Conference 2017 - image by Alan Parkinson shared under CC license

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Thought for the Day

Arthur Austin Miller, 1948

Miller, A. Austin. “The Dissection and Analysis of Maps: Presidential Address.” Transactions and Papers (Institute of British Geographers), no. 14, 1948, pp. 1–13. JSTOR,

Sunday, 5 January 2020

From the archives

As you'll have guessed, the creation of this blog has already taken me many hundreds of hours so far, and will continue to take hundreds of more before it is completed. It's a bit of a labour of love.

I've been doing some research on the histories / biographies / genealogies / publications / contributions of each of the GA Presidents since the first, over 125 years of GA history (and geography).
Here are some of the sources I've used in case you want to follow this, and add anything else from what you can find.

GA website

Wikipedia pages have been produced for many of the past Presidents, but not for many of the recent ones, which could be something to rectify as part of the project perhaps.

The Geographical Teacher and Geography have both printed Presidential addresses in the past. For those who subscribe to 'Geography' at the moment, free access is provided to both of these journals going back to the first issue, via JSTOR.
Image result for rex walford geography in british schools
Peter Jackson put together a brief biography of the Association for the 125th year, and that is available from the GA website.


Rex Walford wrote an excellent book on the history of Geography Education in secondary schools in the UK, which I got a second hand copy of some time ago. This is more open in its descriptions than just the GA's role, but there are plenty of mentions of the impact of

Rex Walford: "Geography in British Schools 1850-2000" (Woburn Press, 2001) - Paperback, 260pp ISBN: 0-7130-4027-0

Some second hand copies are available for 1p (plus P&P) on Amazon.

W. G Balchin wrote an excellent biography of the 'first hundred years' of the Association, and this has also been one of the main books I've referred to. This ends in 1993 of course.

W.G.V Balchin: "The Geographical Association: The First Hundred Years 1893-1993" (The Geographical Association, 1993) - Paperback, 113pp
ISBN: 0-948512-57-1

Both of these men are also Past Presidents of the Association, so they will get their own entries in the blog when the time comes.

A chronology of the Association - download as a PDF file

There have also been numerous other books by the Presidents, and many are available to view digitally on the Internet Archive site.
There is a published history of the Manchester Branch of the Geographical Association which has some details on the Geographical Association as well.
Also thanks to Dorcas and Aaron at Solly St. for finding me the past copies of the GA News (which aren't available digitally earlier than 2004)
Thanks also to the former Presidents who have filled in a special Google form questionnaire I sent round, and others who have sent me e-mails. Chris Kington has a special package for me too, which I am going to collect in a few weeks.

And finally, thanks to archivists from a number of institutions and other colleagues, who have already proved very helpful in sourcing images and other documents to flesh out some entries which were looking quite brief without their help. They are all individually thanked on the relevant posts.

Thought for the Day

"Mankind must be made much more aware of the world it lives in, its rigorous limitations and its limited possibilities. Above all, it must be assisted and persuaded to think of the world as a whole".
David Linton, 1960

Shepherd, W. H. “A One-Day Conference on the Teaching of Geography: A REPORT.” Geography, vol. 45, no. 4, 1960, pp. 300–303. JSTOR,

Friday, 3 January 2020

3.1.33: Progress in Geography - the Record of the IBG

There are references to a whole host of GA Presidents in this piece by David Stoddart.

Many former GA Presidents were involved in the formation of the IBG.
This article outlines the involvement of a whole range of geographers including Alice Garnett, Ogilvie Buchanan, Wooldridge, Stanley Beaver, H J Fleure and Arthur Austin Miller. You will be familiar with many of those names from previous entries on the blog I hope.

A key figure in the formation of the IBG was C. B. Fawcett, pictured here.

The first meeting of the IBG was held on the 3rd of January 1933, when C B Fawcett was elected as President, Arthur Austin Miller was elected as Secretary and Treasurer.

Ogilvie Buchanan became President in 1953.

There were Annual Conferences with Presidential and other lectures once again. I like this description of Sidney Wooldridge's lecture, which I may need to have a go at finding...

Here are the Presidents up to the merging with the RGS:

Plenty of GA Presidents there.


Stoddart, D. R. “Progress in Geography: The Record of the I. B. G.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 8, no. 1, 1983, pp. 1–13. JSTOR,

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Thought for the Day

 Field study is a means of acquiring knowledge through the observation and exploration of our terrestrial environment. There are few aids to this kind of learning. It requires qualities and powers of mind different in some respects from those which are developed in the process of learning from books or from discourse. It is a kind of learning arising in the first place from curiosity about the visible and tangible world, and requiring a capacity for looking beyond the superficial appearance of things.
Geoffrey Hutchings, former GA President

Source: HUTCHINGS, GEOFFREY E. “Geographical Field Teaching: Address to the Geographical Association.” Geography, vol. 47, no. 1, 1962, pp. 1–14. JSTOR,

Joy Tivy

In 2013, I was delighted to receive the Joy Tivy Education Medal from the Royal Scottish Assocation for Geography Teachers, presented to me...