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]

Navigation training events for Ramblers

Navigation training events for Ramblers


Volunteering was part of my #teacher5aday pledge for 2018 and one way to fulfill this was to put a proposal to the Rushcliffe Ramblers to organise navigation training events for their members. This they accepted and I recently completed the first event in heat wave conditions using a 7.2 miles countryside walking route. Going back to 2015 I devised a land navigation model which I used when teaching students this topic. The model was developed using the following sequence that would be used in typical land navigation situations. From this sequence I devised a set of concepts that corresponded to each question within this framework:

  • Where are you starting from? Concept – detection
  • Where are you heading to? Concept – destination
  • Which way are you going? Concept – direction
  • How far are you going to travel? Concept – distance.

These concepts: detection; destination; direction and distance form part of a conceptual system and each concept was defined by a set of critical characteristics. This idea was developed into ‘The 4 D’s of Land Navigation Model’ and my findings were published in the Institute of Outdoor Learning’s ‘Horizons’ magazine issue 73 Spring 2016 under the title: “Land navigation, coaching concepts”. I used this model in the first navigation training event I organised with the Rushcliffe Ramblers.

4 D's Navigation jpeg

Outline of techniques and activity relating to The 4 D’s of Land Navigation Model

Each bullet point listed below was mentioned during the activity and where applicable demonstrated. I have placed each discussion point under the most appropriate concept in ‘The 4 D’s of Land Navigation Model.’ The points listed provide evidence that even a walk in rural low level countryside knowledge of a wide range of navigation techniques are required.


Essential items for navigation – Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 map and a compass


  • Locating position on map. This is aided by folding the map so that only the immediate area is being viewed and keeps focus avoiding distracting information. 
  • Setting a map by using the compass and setting a map by observation.
  • Observation – take account of features directly in one’s immediate surroundings to assist in confirming location. These can include contour details. Don’t be taken in by features in the middle and far distance.
  • Knowledge of map signs and symbols.
  • Using senses such as sound to assist in ascertaining location.
  • Explained that a grid reference covers an area not a specific point. A 4 figure GR covers an area of 1km2 and a 6 figure GR covers an area of 100m2.
  • Discussed moving slightly from current point for intelligence gathering to ascertain location.
  • Observation above the landscape e.g. power lines can be useful to ascertain location.
  • Completed a location exercise relating to a point not represented on a map.


  • Discussed types of Rights of Way and how these are represented on a map and in the field.
  • Explained using a compass when entering a large field and taking a bearing will aid finding the exit when it cannot be seen.
  • Anticipate what the next part of the route will look like.
  • Explored using prominent visual features to assist in attaining our destination.


  • Types of compass. Identified parts of a baseplate compass: index point; direction of travel arrow; orienting arrow and the magnetic needle.
  • Demonstrated how to take a map bearing to establish direction.
  • Used sign posts and signs to assist in direction finding. Also taking note of the line by usage.
  • Discussed points of reference – these are main features that can be utilised to aid direction finding and to assist in relocation if required.
  • Demonstrated using the ‘thumbing’ technique whereby the thumb is moved along the map as progress is being made. This ensures knowing where we are at any time.
  • How field boundaries, represented only on 1:25,000 scale maps, can be utilised relating to the angle of the path and assist in route finding.
  • Using field boundaries and water courses as hand rail features to aid direction.
  • Described how fenced tracks and unfenced tracks are depicted on a map and in the field using an example on the route.
  • Discussed using contour lines and features to aid direction finding.
  • Explained that a mirror compass is ideal for taking bearings off distant hills as you will be able to sight on the object without lifting the baseplate as the mirror reflects the compass housing and the bearing required.
  • Discussed how to connect with the compass and having it hanging around one’s neck with the supplied cord isn’t the best way. Demonstrated using the cord as a wrist loop and discussed having a much longer length of cord so the compass can be carried away from the neck and in a safer location under the arm so that in a wind it doesn’t fly up and hit them on the cheek. A greater length of cord will enable a more convenient way to use the compass on the map to gain a bearing.


Sometimes there is just a trace of a path


  • Map scales for walkers 1:25,000 1:40,000 1:50,000 and explained what these mean.
  • Explained that romer scales provide an accurate six figure grid reference and can be used to measure distances. Some compasses have these on their baseplate.
  • Demonstrated the use of a romer scale to establish distance and how to use the millimetre scale in the same way but this required calculation.
  • Mentioned Naismith’s Rule for estimating walking time but in the area where we were walking in there was no need to apply the ascent formula. However, if the walk is in a mountain area and peaks are to be gained then this is essential to take into account.
  • Also mentioned Tranter’s Variations which is a more complicated system as it takes account of fitness level; weight of load carried; underfoot and weather conditions.
  • Discussed using a Smart phones fitness app to provide a guide to distance covered / completed. This app is akin to an analogue pedometer as it uses a motion sensor and therefore doesn’t drain the battery like when using a GPS function.
  • Discussed using digital mapping such as supplied by the Ordnance Survey which traces the route taken and provides cumulative distances. However, need to be aware that this can drain the battery of the device used.

Compasses taken to show participants


Silva Expedition compass with romer scales in 1:25,000; 1:40,000 & 1:50,000

The Silva Expedition, which I used throughout the walk and has romer scales on its base plate.


Suunto MC-2 G 6400 mils mirror compass

A Suunto mirror compass and demonstrated its use in taking a field bearing without raising the base plate as the mirror reflects the bezel and bearing.

A basic Silva version which I didn’t show as attendees had similar versions.

Notes on Leading a Walk

Where relevant discussed leading a walk and in particular the ability to switch off from navigating to chat with the group and when to switch on again to concentrate on the route finding. The latter required points of reference in order to identify when to do this. A walk recce may be done a few months from when they are actually leading a walk and there may be seasonal differences to take account of which can include farming techniques. For example, a path that was easy to follow may have been ploughed out with no trace.

Feedback from participants directly after activity was positive. Also the walks organiser received positive feedback from participants which they passed on to me. I will certainly be using ‘The 4 D’s of Land Navigation Model’ in future navigation training events for the Rushcliffe Ramblers.

Land navigation, coaching concepts – link to my article published in the Institute of Outdoor Learning’s ‘Horizons’ magazine issue number 73 Spring 2016:

Link to my Scoop-It curation site which has a range of information on land navigation techniques and includes videos:




#walk1000miles the first 600 miles

#walk1000miles the first 600 miles

After seeing the Country Walking magazine’s #walk1000miles in 2017 challenge on Twitter I decided it would be worth giving it a go. However, it took  until the 3rd of January to make the start. Knowing that one needed to do 2.74 miles every day for 365 days to hit the target why didn’t I start on the 1st January? I devised a plan to keep me on target for each month based on the number of days in each month times 2.74 miles (see below).

So to commence the challenge on the 2nd January I planned what was to become my #WorkWalk. This was a 1.93 mile route that started and finished where I worked and went through two green spaces in Nottingham, namely the Forest Recreation Ground, famous for the site of the Goose Fair in October, and the Arboretum. I completed fourteen #WorkWalk ‘s in January to which I added a walk I have done many times in the past few years (7.25 miles) and one I devised especially for #walk1000miles in 2017 (10 miles). The latter were countryside walks over footpaths, bridleways, tracks and trails close to where I live.

Meindl Cambridge GTX muddy

Typical conditions with the countryside walks early in the year so my Meindl Cambridge GTX shoes came into their own and they kept my feet perfectly dry

In February I only missed three days where I didn’t walk and was pleasantly surprised just how many miles one can achieve with a #WorkWalk every weekday. Weekend walks were in the local countryside but as a respite from the mud I did three laps of the National Water Sports Centre’s (NWSC) Regatta Lake. March saw four days missed walks but more countryside walks enabled more miles walked this month compared to February. April was a great month and a turning point despite missing four days of walking. This was due to gaining blisters after a Long Distance Walkers Association 29 miles Erewash Valley Trail walk with the Anytime Anywhere group. Also I devised a new walk which took in three historical sites around East Leake and measured 16 miles, and I completed this on four of the five weekends in April.

Blue and Yellow

Fields of Oil-seed rape near Rempstone Nottinghamshire May 2017

May saw me go through the 500 miles target with a total of 501 miles recorded on the 7th of that month. Then there was a lull with four days in a row missed and a total of ten days when a walk wasn’t recorded. However, with determination I set a target of completing 600 miles before the end of the month and this was achieved on 30th when five laps of the NWSC Regatta Lake were completed which meant 0.7 miles were needed to get to that target. Getting back home I didn’t want to leave it until the next day so literately it took a 2.5 mile walk in the park to go through the 600 mile target. Finally, on the last day of May I added another 11.34 miles with a countryside walk in beautiful weather.

Now onward with seven months left to do 386.84 miles. I am enjoying this personal challenge and thanks to Country Walking for devising it and providing the motivation.

#walk1000miles plan for 2017

January 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles

January total 36.6 miles (58.91 km)

February 28 days X 2.74 miles / day = 76.72 miles 161.66 miles

February total 91.22 miles (146.8 km) cumulative total = 127.82 miles

March 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 246.6 miles 

March total 120.98 miles (194.7 km) cumulative total = 248.8 miles

April 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 328.80 miles

April total 210.7 miles (339.1 km) cumulative total = 459.5 miles

May 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 413.74 miles

May total 153.6 miles (247.2 km) cumulative total = 613.16 miles

June 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 495.94 miles achieved 501 7th May

July 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 580.88 miles

August 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 665.82 miles

September 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 748.02miles

October 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 832.96 miles

November 30 days X 2.74 miles / day = 82.2 miles 915.16 miles

December 31 days X 2.74 miles / day = 84.94 miles 1000.1 miles

Used Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping for route planning and Suunto Movescount to record walks.

#resilience & #grit, The Challenge completed

#resilience & #grit, The Challenge completed

Phew! The timekeeper confirms that my finish time was just under my target of five hours by 47 seconds. Earlier in the day, at 9am precisely, the start horn sounded and this year’s Seagrave Wolds Challenge (SWC) was underway.


The start of the 2016 Seagrave Wolds Challenge

Held on the second Saturday in November this event is always a challenge due to the presence of mud and the distinct likelihood of rain. The SWC may only be 16 miles long but I needed resilience and grit to complete this year’s event. This year was the twelfth consecutive running of the SWC and my sixth completion. In the six times I have completed the event there have been four different routes. This shows a creative mindset to the route planners as the start and finish location is always in the Leicestershire Wolds village of Seagrave. The 2016 event was held on Saturday 12th November and was over a completely new route on mixed surfaces, taking in the Soar Valley, Mountsorrel and the scenically attractive Swithland Reservoir area. I was hoping for decent weather and an almost mud free walk just like my first SWC in 2011 but in the preceding week there was copious amounts of rain. So 2016’s SWC wasn’t going to be mud free just more muddier than usual plus the weather forecast for the Saturday was heavy rain for most of the day. With all this foresight should I bother to go? This is where one needs grit as it would be easy to stay at home be warm and dry and watch TV. However, I was in the zone to go as I prepared my gear the previous evening and my rucksack was packed and ready for action. During the walk I certainly needed resilience to contend with the mud and the weather difficulties that the day provided. The first four miles I completed in an average time of 15 minutes per mile so I hit the 4 mile check point 12 seconds over the hour mark. I was delighted with this given the conditions. Unfortunately, my target to reach the half way stage at mile 8 in under two hours didn’t materialise as when I went through this marker I was eleven minutes over. However, even with this disappointment I was still on schedule to complete the SWC in under 4.5 hours. It was not to be as the conditions took their toll and my lack of endurance fitness was beginning to take effect from mile 10. The last mile was particularly gruelling as it took me almost thirty minutes to complete!


The route is way marked throughout 

My Seagrave Wolds Challenge (SWC) 2016 performance

Mile   Time     Cumulative time swc-typical-terrain

  1.   15.12              15.12
  2.   16.45              32.00
  3.   13.29              45.25
  4.   14.46           1:00.12
  5.   19.22           1:19.33
  6.   17.08           1:36.41
  7.   20.13           1:56.54
  8.   14.41           2:11.35
  9.   17.46           2:29.21
  10.   22.52           2:52.12
  11.   17.38           3:09.50
  12.   23.36           3:33.26
  13.   17.45           3:51.11
  14.   16.35           4:07.46
  15.   21.53           4:29.39
  16.   29.34           4:59.13

Total time: 4 hours 59 minutes 13 seconds

On a personal level I am delighted I finished my sixth Seagrave Wolds Challenge. However, the SWC wouldn’t take place without the organisers, volunteers, land owners and support from Seagrave residents. So thanks to everyone involved in making the SWC a highly enjoyable event. Will I be back next year? Of course, and for 2017 the sun will shine and the terrain will be less muddier! Whatever the weather there will always be smiles from SWC supporters and crumble and custard at the finish!


What awaits every finisher – the Seagrave Wolds Challenge famous crumble and custard

For further information about this year’s and future Seagrave Wolds Challenges:

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Here are some of my personal views when deciding on what to carry on an endurance walk like the 75 mile National Forest Way. This is a trip which I am currently organising and planning to do the walk in three days. On each day I will be walking an average of 25 miles. In this type of activity it is necessary to keep weight down to a minimum to aid enjoyment. Selecting equipment needs thought as when conditions dictate it maybe that you are carrying and not wearing items of clothing. Here you need to be aware that the clothing you use is not only light in weight but is compact and can be easily compressed to reduce volume when packed. Please note that the following observations are based on an endurance walk undertaken in late spring in a low level environment close to human habitation over terrain that consists of public rights of way, paths and tracks.

Equipment for endurance walks


The rucksack is the container for your ‘life support system’ during the trek and this is the starting point to keep weight down. There is no need to have a pack that has all the extras like ice-ax fittings, attachment points for crampons and automatic cup holders! All these add unnecessary weight. For endurance walking in low level terrain I use a pack that has an uncomplicated design, is comfortable to carry, light weight and is around 26 litres capacity. The latter feature is to limit the volume and weight I carry. My current pick of the bunch for endurance walks, and indeed short rambles, is the Black Diamond RPM.  Access to the main body is via a zipped lid and inside is a bladder pouch holder and a front compartment. The lid has a zipped outside pocket and a zipped inside one which includes a clip to hold your keys etc… On the exterior are two mesh pockets each capable of holding a 600ml drinks bottle plus a lunch bar. The volume of the pack can be adjusted by an external draw cord on it’s front face which ensures everything loaded is held tight and close to your back.

Inside the Pack

Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

My most recent addition in outdoor clothing is a Marmot Artemis NanoPro lightweight water proof jacket. I bought this to replace my aging (and leaking) Marmot Preclip jacket. I wanted a lightweight waterproof jacket that had a chest pocket to hold my glasses when it rained hard! And this jacket has said pocket. I have now used it on several occasions including a full day of rain when on the 2014 Seagrave Wolds 16 mile Challenge Walk. It performed perfectly and I remained dry throughout the event. In contrast the oldest item of clothing I am still using is a pair of Rohan overtrousers. I bought these maybe 20 years ago and Rohan’s Waterlight H2P fabric still does the business. Although they are lined they are lightweight and fold up compactly.

Spare Warm Jacket

Again I am going back in time because my Marmot Driclime Jacket from over a decade ago is still the most effective and efficient garment to carry (and wear when needed) providing warmth and an element of wind resistance in a lightweight and compact package. I selected the jacket version with the full length zip to aid getting the garment on and off easily as the need and conditions required. The outer is wind resistant nylon and the inner is a lightweight polyester fleece.

Hat & Gloves

In weather that is forecast to be changeable, which is most of the time in England, I take a warm hat and gloves. These don’t need to be full on mountaineering styles but lightweight and effective ones. My warm hat dates from the last century and is made by Patagonia from their stretch Syncilla fabric whilst my fleece gloves are a similar vintage displaying the Icefall label. A baseball cap is useful just it case the sun decides to come out.

First Aid Kit

The usual stuff: assorted plasters, antiseptic wipes, pain killers and Compeed blister plasters are contained in a fold out pouch. Included in this pouch is a SwissCard due to having a pair of tweezers and a neat pair of scissors along with a tooth pick and nail file! As it is late spring and the sun may be out then it is essential to take sun cream. On recommendation from my daughter, who is a snowboarder, I am taking Piz Buin Mountain Suncream with a 50+ SPF! This provides protection not only from the sun but also cold, wind and high altitudes!


A trusted Maglite 2 AA cell torch is included in my pack. I will make sure it has a spare bulb in it’s tail and it contains fresh batteries. These essentials, the first aid kit and torch, are kept together in a Lowe Alpine U-shaped mesh bag and then placed in a waterproof bag.

Sit mat

A small piece of closed-cell foam is carried to ensure that when I need to sit down to eat or enjoy the view I can in relative comfort.


I will carry two 600ml plastic bottles of diluted orange drink for liquid whilst food will consist of a variety of snack bars and dried fruit. This will be supplemented along the way as the route passes through many villages that have shops and some have a pub!


On a low level walk like this carry spares is not really necessary. Also it is light until late and the essence is to keep moving at a reasonable pace hence not taking the kitchen sink! However, space will be found for a length of paracord which has a multitude of uses including make-do laces.

Keeping it all Dry

Plastic bags will ensure everything is kept dry.

Navigation Aids

Route Plans

I have downloaded the route guides from: have laminated them to protect them from the elements.


The relevant Ordnance Survey maps will be carried and used: 233, 245 & 246.


A Silva Type 4 will be taken along as a ‘just in case’.

GPS Receiver

I have one but still debating whether it is worth carrying in this kind of environment. OK it doesn’t weigh much but every kg counts in this game.

I hope you have found this helpful and I welcome comments.

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