Meet our head of Geography who wants to inspire pupils to become global citizens
Head of geography Megan Taylor in Iceland on one of her many overseas adventures
Megan Taylor joined Bolingbroke Academy last September as head of the Geography department, and believes the subject offers a great perspective on the world, saying she hopes her pupils will become "global citizens". She talked to us about what she hopes to achieve in her role, and how she has been coping with lockdown!
Is Geography something that has always interested you?
Yes especially since A Levels. In year 7 I will always remember at parents evening my Geography teacher said “If Megan put her mind to it, she would be an incredible geographer”. I have been lucky enough to travel to lots of places in the world, trekking the Himalayas, canoeing the Amazon rainforest and teaching sailing on Lake Winnipesaukee, and was ultimately inspired to study Geography.
What is its appeal?
I think how broad Geography can be, it involves everything, everyone and all the interactions that take place around the world. Also, the opportunity to travel see different places and culture brings the subject to life.
What did you study at university?
I studied Geography BSc at Plymouth University. My degree was actually really rare because it was split 50/50 between human and physical modules, which meant I actually chose if I was awarded a BSc or BA.
Did you consider any careers other than teaching?
At first I was very interested in sport but couldn’t figure out what to do. Then I thought about chemistry but I’m a people person and I didn’t feel like that career path would suit me, so I chose to study geography because I enjoyed the subject. I did consider becoming a pilot or a hydrologist but became a teaching assistant on my placement year during university and loved it!
What school were you at previously and what was your role there?
Ark William Parker Academy, now Ark Alexandra Academy, in Hastings, where I was Head of Geography.
What attracted you to working at Bolingbroke?
I wanted to move to London to be nearer to my friends and have a fun lifestyle that wasn’t possible in a small seaside town. The Geography department is new this year so I saw this as an opportunity to develop something great! I am very much enjoying my time here and view it as a place I would like to grow and develop.
What plans and expectations do you have for your subjects?
We have revamped all the Geography resources this year, so next year we would really like to build on the innovative resources and integrate some Geography fieldtrips whether it be to Wandsworth Common or to the coast! We want pupils to become global citizens where they feel comfortable to explore the world, visit different places and experience contrasting cultures.
What would you say to pupils who ponder choosing Geography for GCSE/A-levels?
Geography is a broad academic subject which will open up options in the future in either arts or sciences, as Geography combines them both. Not only this, but geography helps you understand and appreciate the world around you. I think it is particularly important to study geography because we are living in a rapidly changing city with inequalities and sustainability being at the forefront; it is important to understand these if we are going to make a difference. The opportunities to learn new skills such as GIS, map skills, photographic, debating, fieldwork are wide ranging and current
What benefits does Geography confer?
I think the main benefit is those who study Geography will have a clearer understanding of the pressing topics impacting us such as climate change, desertification, water resource issues, trade agreements, social inequalities, among others. Also, it is a subject that gives you options.
What have been the main challenges of teaching during lockdown?
Missing all the pupils and staff! It is hard to sit at my dining room table with three other people trying to teach a lesson.
Ms Taylor says one of the main benefit of working from home has being able to make a cup of tea - and actually drink it all - but has missed her colleagues and pupils during lockdown
How have the pupils responded?
I think the pupils in Geography have responded, on the whole, very well. It has been a difficult change to transfer everything online, but now I believe we are in a routine so the pupils are very aware of the expectations and if they weren’t responding before they are now!
What do you most miss about going into school every day?
I get passionate about geographical topics over a virtual lesson but I miss being able to do this with the pupils face to face, developing their opinions and discusssing it with them.
And what are the - perhaps unexpected - benefits of working from home?
I can actually manage to make a cup of tea and drink it all, and I manage to do my washing at a reasonable time!
And with distance learning I feel I have developed positive relationships with the families of our pupils, not just the students, and I hope this continues in the future.
How do you relax in your spare time?
I enjoy exercising, playing netball (not at the moment sadly) and cycling (my new hobby discovered in lockdown). Then all the usual things; socialising with my friends, eating food that isn’t good for me and binging on a great series on Netflix!