Australian Geography Curriculum and Earth Science

Australian Geography Curriculum

Notebooking from Discover Downunder now use in our Year 6 My Homeschool Curriculum.

When I began homeschooling, I thought my Australian homeschool geography curriculum should just be about places on the map, learning how to read a map and learning about people across the planet.

Then I began to read through the Australian Geography Curriculum and I saw all these environmental issue topics and I wondered, “Why on earth is that in the geography curriculum, when it should just be about places, countries and maps.” So I went back to my Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series book and started rereading her ideas on geography. And to my surprise I found in Charlotte Mason books ideas about the earth science and the environment.

Charlotte Mason Geography

Charlotte Mason Homeschool Geography is a combination of three Australian Curriculum subjects Languages, Earth Science and Geography. In the Australian Curriculum geography is a separate subject within the Humanities and Social Science. The Australian Curriculum also includes Earth Science as a content strand in the science curriculum. Learning another language is part of the Australian Curriculum Languages but it also includes learning about culture and place of the particular language being studies.

In the primary homeschool geography lessons the Charlotte Mason way would realistically be around 1.5 hours per week.

Australian high schools allocate about 50 hours per year to geography. This subject is often rotated between the sub strands of history and geography and are often taught in blocks – a year of history or a year of geography. Science is also approximately 20% of the Australian Curriculum and Earth science is a part of that. Also a proportion of the Language Study is also about learning the cultural geography of other countries.

Charlotte Mason Homeschool Geography includes:

  • physical geography (including earth science),
  • geography skills (field work and map skills),
  • human geography (languages & cultural geography).

The Australian Curriculum and Charlotte Mason do have many things in common but of course the approach and emphasis varies.

Charlotte Mason Method & Australian Curriculum Differences

One great difference is the three cross curriculum themes in the Australian Curriculum that are meant to be incorporated into ALL SUBJECTS of the curriculum (even maths). These “priority” subjects are: teaching about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Australia’s place in Asia and sustainability.  In geography these themes permeate the Australian Curriculum content. Whilst I don’t mind teaching these topics, I believe they are very out of balance in the Australian Curriculum and are wrapped up in political ideologies and agendas.

The Australian Geography Curriculum also expects children to make decisions (have an opinion) about environmental issues before, I believe, they really have the knowledge. Charlotte Mason often talked about the teacher not getting in the way and just letting a child learn about a topic and discover for themselves. She believed children would have a burgeoning understanding of issues. Children were encouraged to think for themselves but they were not required “to change the world” from an early age.

Missing from the Australian Curriculum is a broad overview of World Geography. Whilst there is a small overview of countries and continents in primary school, learning world map geography is almost absent except in random sections rather than the big picture.