Curriculum as a Map

Curriculum as a Map


As a one time professional navigator, I taught land navigation and expedition skills for 25 years in a college of further education, I am amazed that areas of this discipline are often used as an analogy for aspects of education. Not wishing to be left out my analogy for this article is comparing how one uses a map to plan a route with how one structures a curriculum.

The inspiration behind this came from the following quote:

“The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification.” [1]

Can what we know about how we use a map enable us to lay the foundations on how to structure a curriculum. 

Walking it

Opening out an Ordnance Survey map I am contained by the boundaries of this map.

Using this map I want to plan a course for a race. As this race will be on foot I will focus on using footpaths, bridleways and byways to connect places. Places of historical interest, places of beauty to dwell on and study in depth, places to stop to admire the view, places to pick up provisions, places to take a breather …. How will I decide if the route is linear, circular or a series of smaller circuits? To answer this question I will need to consider the length of time I have for the route to be completed. Will this be a day, a term, a semester, an academic year or longer? Also will I need to revisit places?

Using the original Latin meaning I am planning a curriculum. [2]

Where is the curriculum’s starting point?

Where will the curriculum end?

What shall I include in the curriculum?

Will it be easier to state what will be excluded?

Can the whole area of the map be covered?

Extremely unlikely even if given three years to do so.

What footpaths will be selected to connect places? These being better suited for walking.

What if a path hits a road junction?

On this map this cannot be avoided.

Some paths connect easier than others when at a road junction.

On these paths simply crossing the road and the path is just across the way.

Other paths once the road is crossed you have to walk down the road for some distance sharing this space with fast moving traffic before finding a path that goes in the direction required. Following this route isn’t very safe but on occasions this may be the only option. 

Would using a car be better?

On any map there will be major A roads allowing a more straight forward connection between places. On a typical A road there are a variety of speed limits in place. Mainly 50mph on the open road but can be 40mph when approaching a village and will be 30mph when going through a village.

However, does every driver stick to these speed limits?

In a curriculum, as driving along an A road, there are times when one needs to slow down. There are good reasons for this as a slower pace enables a topic to be dwelt on. However, there are instances where this isn’t the case. Maybe the teacher speeds past a topic they don’t particularly like when more time should be taken or they need to slow down to ensure this part is taken in as it is a base for connecting to other topics. Not adhering to speed limits when driving can have consequences like receiving a speeding ticket. In the curriculum not adjusting the pace could affect student performance and could lead to attendance and retention issues. Just like that speeding ticket all negative outcomes.


There are times when the curriculum is fixed by others. This could be by the government, the organisation you are working for, the awarding body, the unit specification etc… However, even if the curriculum is fixed by others can you make changes surreptitiously? After all it is your subject and you are the expert. Can you be that maverick?

What if a curriculum wasn’t mapped out by others how would you go about planning it? What route selection would you make? Where would you dwell? Which places would you speed through? 


Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari “A Thousand Plateaus” (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987:12) tr. Brian Massumi…/deleuzeguattarirhizome.pdf Accessed: 9th March 2019 [1]

Kieran Egan (2003:10) “What Is Curriculum?”Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies Accessed: 10th March 2019 [2]

The Challenge – preparation and training

The Challenge – preparation and training

Next Saturday sees me on the starting line of the Seagrave Wolds 16 mile Challenge event. Preparation is thinking what to wear and carry for the walk and training means getting out of the chair and heading outdoors! Today #aussieEd on Twitter asked how do you unwind and relax? My reply was to read (maps), write (Blogs) and walk. Walk! Hey what am I doing reading tweets I need to head outside and do more training. Whilst preparing for the walk I selected clothing that I have worn before on previous Seagrave Wolds challenges and to trial stuff that I have bought since last year’s event. For both  items old and new this walk was a shake down to check or recheck that it works. Also I used experiences from walks I did during this summer especially the challenge events which I took part in. These were the 26 mile Dovedale Dipper and the 54 miles Three Forests Way. The former I completed and the latter I made it to 49 miles but then retired. Major issues for both events were footwear and coping with the heat. However, as the Seagrave Wolds Challenge is in early November the heat issue is unlikely. Footwear I sorted for the Three Forests Way but then underfoot conditions were hard and firm but for the Seagrave Wolds Challenge it will likely be wet and muddy. So taking all this into consideration I made my selection, put it on and stepped outside. Here is the run down on the performance on each item used today with a bit of history attached.

Troll Omni lightweight trousers

My go to trousers for walking built in North Wales from fabric made in Sweden.  Found them growing wild at Joe Brown’s Capel Curig shop. These are lightweight as they don’t have any zips and only have three pockets. The material they are made from is windproof, water resistant, breathable and durable. They have an elasticated waist with an integral belt, are a simple pull-on design and feature a gusseted crotch for freedom of movement. For me they are time tested as I have used them for many years and I have worn them for the last five Seagrave Wolds Challenge walks. Today they performed as usual in the changing conditions and even when it rained I didn’t feel I needed overtrousers.

Eddie Bauer lightweight 1/4 zip fleece

The oldest piece of kit I wore today which I bought around 20 years ago. Still in fabulous condition this item of clothing is made from lightweight Polartec fleece which I use predominately from November to February for technical walks. This is superb addition for a layering system as it is low bulk and flexible. Two lower pockets are well placed to warm hands. One of my few mail order purchases and obtained direct from Eddie Bauer when they had a base in the UK. Like the Omni trousers I have worn this on the five previous Seagrave Wolds Challenge walks. Provided effective warmth in today’s temperatures which averaged 5 degrees Centigrade.

Mountain Hardwear technical T-Shirt

Ideal for wearing under the Eddie Bauer fleece this T-Shirt is made from a technical fabric which has wicking properties. Found in the Rock Bottom department at Cotswold Camping a few years ago. Worked well today in the changing conditions encountered.

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic waterproof jacket

There are times when one is wandering around a gear store, in this case Ultimate Outdoors, looking for an item of gear one really needs but coming out with something one didn’t! Such was this case when I didn’t really need a new waterproof jacket but it was the half price that caught my eye. Plus of course this jacket was made from a fabulous sounding material Dry.Q. Reading the information on the hang tag I found out this is a four-way all over stretch fabric that boasts excellent performance in wet conditions. Made with a new fabric and half the price how could I resist? I couldn’t so I bought it. However, I did find sorting the hood out for a neat fit slightly time consuming whilst on my first outing with this jacket. So back home I made sure that I did tweak it to fit perfectly so all would be OK next time out. An essential for me when selecting a waterproof jacket is to have a chest pocket to store my glasses when it rains hard. This jacket has this and it is also a perfect storage solution when I take out my iPhone SE. Today it was worn throughout the walk and provided a comfortable and effective barrier to the wind and later the rain. The under sleeve zips allowed ventilation when needed.

Brooks Ghost 7 training shoes


Brooks Ghost 7 training shoes on the day I bought them

Searching for a couple of years for a suitable pair of what I can use as approach shoes I found these at TK Maxx this summer for a bargain price of £35 (SRP £125). Although not officially classified as approach shoes they have an excellent tread that suits off-road tracks and trails. I used them today over similar terrain to what I will encounter next week and found them able to cope with forest tracks and field paths. In the last two Seagrave Wolds Challenge walks I have worn boots but I am seriously considering wearing these as they are far lighter. The one draw back will be if the terrain is wet as these training shoes do not have a waterproof lining.

Asics black socks

Lightweight synthetic socks built for wearing with training shoes. Fast drying and offer reasonable support for their weight. Worn today with the Brooks Ghost 7 training shoes and no issues. Bought a few pairs a couple of years ago from Go Outdoors.

Lacoste underpants

After wearing Y-fronts for the Three Forests Way and having overheating problems in a sensitive region I went out and bought these. Tried them on pervious walks where I was out for up to three hours and they work fine as they did today. Another TK Maxx purchase with a great price reduction. Only problem is I should have bought two pairs!

Silk scarf

Finally, in previous Seagrave Wolds Challenges I have found I needed something to protect my neck when conditions are cold. I have always coveted a silk scarf but a mix of price, colour and pattern have been barriers. Then TK Maxx come to my rescue with a silk scarf made in India which was both cheap and in an appropriate colour with an abstract pattern. I needed this today for the start when I was warming up and I put it on to avoid a chill for the last fifteen minutes of the walk.

The walk

OK so that is the clothing sorted out but how did the walk go? Looking at the BBC weather forecast I knew that I couldn’t hang around too long as they predicted heavy rain at 12 noon. So I decided not to take photographs but just go for it. As the walk is just over seven miles it is almost half the distance of next Saturday’s Seagrave Wolds Challenge 16 miles walk so it will provide an indicator of my fitness level. Setting a fast pace from the outset I went through my timing points in faster times than I had done recently. However, I still wanted to experience the beauty of the countryside so I observed the scene as I walked along. One difference I noticed were mushrooms close by a recently reinstated field path. Then as I passed a section which still has small field systems I startled two green woodpeckers that were feeding on the ground. One was larger than the other so I am assuming that it was an adult with their youngster. The adult gave out the warning call and headed diagonally into a line of trees whilst the youngster took a straight line approach to the same tree line. What other birds in Britain are such a bright green with a vivid red cap? So wonderful to see and the first time I have seen green woodpeckers on this walk which I have completed over many years. Now back to the weather I felt the wind becoming stronger and then the first drops of rain. Looking at my watch it was 11.49am! Not a bad forecast then from the BBC only eleven minutes out! The rain that came wasn’t heavy as predicted but it was enough to need a waterproof jacket. The rain beading on the jacket confirmed it’s waterproofness. In the last fifteen minutes the rain became stronger so it was hood up and head down. As I approached my front door the heavy rain arrived but by then I was inside.

Further information:

Compare and Contrast using a Venn Diagram

Compare and Contrast using a Venn Diagram

Whilst trawling through Twitter today, 19th October 2014, I came across a post by Debbie Millar (@DebMillar24) in which she provided a link to one of her Scoop It curated pages titled “ePick & Mix”. One of these links was:

One of the sections was about: Comparing: Identifying any similarities or differences.

“Learners identify and describe similarities and differences among items when comparing and contrasting them. This requires identifying the most important characteristics that increase understanding of the differences and similarities of the compared concepts.”

The article goes on to say:

Human brains naturally notice differences. The comparison process helps learners identify language cues, define ideas and clarify thought processes. It’s also useful for forming or attaining concepts. Its most common use is as a way to graphically organize content.”

Then it offers a Venn diagram as an effective way to show how different things or ideas can overlap to show a compare/contrast relationship. I then clicked on the image provided and came to:

Information gained here stated that a Venn diagram is just one of many Graphic Organisers to assist in visualising an idea and mapping it as an image.

After realising the potential of a Venn diagram I thought I could apply it in relation to BTEC’s statement which uses ‘Compare and Contrast’ very often as a merit criterion. I needed to produce a Venn digram using word processing software. I use Mac Pages and came across this neat but rather unpolished video describing the way to overlap two circles and by decreasing the opacity of each circle the overlap comes clearly into view.

No doubt other such videos exist for your favourite software.

Now back to application. I will use Unit 10: Skills for Land-based Outdoor and Adventurous Activities which is a unit within the Edexcel Level 3 Public Services qualification. U10‘s criterion M1 is: “Compare and contrast four different land-based outdoor and adventurous activities”. The Venn diagram attached here compares and contrasts two activities namely: orienteering and adventure walking.

Link to Venn diagram: Compare and contrast orienteering & adventure walking

It is to be hoped that you will find this example useful and it will provide ideas in other areas.

Chris Sweetman