Geography in Maths

Dear Maths teachers,

Did you know we have quite a lot in common? We are good looking and stylish and most importantly we both enjoy colouring in (yes, we’ve seen your Christmas tree coordinates activities in classrooms in late December!). Also, we both teach graphical, numerical and statistical skills. Our new specifications have a greater focus on these.

With this in mind, is it possible to get some Geography into maths lessons? We’re often hearing about cross curricular numeracy, which we work hard to include in geography but we’d really appreciate it if you got some geography into maths. We know you work hard and are under a lot of pressure with accountability measures (as we all are), but have a look below at what is included in one example of a new specification for geography.

Graphical skills to:

  • select and construct appropriate graphs and charts to present data, using appropriate scales – line charts, bar charts, pie charts, pictograms, histograms with equal class intervals, divided bar, scattergraphs, and population pyramids
  • suggest an appropriate form of graphical representation for the data provided
  • complete a variety of graphs and maps – choropleth, isoline, dot maps, desire lines, proportional symbols and flow lines
  • use and understand gradient, contour and value on isoline maps
  • plot information on graphs when axes and scales are provided
  • interpret and extract information from different types of maps, graphs and charts, including population pyramids, choropleth maps, flow-line maps, dispersion graphs.

Numerical skills to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of number, area and scales, and the quantitative relationships between units
  • design fieldwork data collection sheets and collect data with an understanding of accuracy, sample size and procedures, control groups and reliability
  • understand and correctly use proportion and ratio, magnitude and frequency
  • draw informed conclusions from numerical data.

Statistical skills to:

  • use appropriate measures of central tendency, spread and cumulative frequency (median, mean, range, quartiles and inter-quartile range, mode and modal class)
  • calculate percentage increase or decrease and understand the use of percentiles
  • describe relationships in bivariate data: sketch trend lines through scatter plots, draw estimated lines of best fit, make predictions, interpolate and extrapolate trends
  • be able to identify weaknesses in selective statistical presentation of data.

Geography provides a subject-specific context that enables the application of numerical and statistical methods to real world contexts and issues. Using Geography as your context, whether determining net migrations flows or comparing life expectancy with GDP, will help our students become more precise in their geographical studies and better understand why data (and data skills) matter.

At the very least it would be very useful if the above skills were flagged within maths lessons as being applicable in geography. What would be really useful to our students would be to use geographical data and scenarios when teaching the above skills in maths lessons. For example, you could consider using population data when teaching mean, median mode. The World Bank have some really useful data here:

There are lots of other examples to share with you. I know us geographers are a strange bunch, but we’re quite cool really. Come and speak to one of us in school to find out how you can help us, and more importantly our students, to be successful in Geography and Maths.

Team Geography

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