Diversity, divinity and geography

Monday, 10 February 2014
Diversity, divinity and geography

Andrew Lavis, Head of Geography at Worth School and Assistant Housemaster of Chapman House, reflects on what his ‘chosen subject’ means to him. Having studied geography at Hertford College, Oxford and taught at Worth since 2006, Lavis is unequivocal about why geography offers a hugely rewarding path of learning.

It might be considered unusual and even hypocritical for an employee of Worth, a Catholic school, to be at best agnostic and at worst quite possibly an atheist. However, I am always keen to point out that my beliefs are still a matter of faith. Consequently I do have many moments of doubt. These moments are triggered by the very aspects of my subject that I love.

The sheer vibrant biodiversity of life on earth and the range and spectacular nature of the ecosystems and geomorphology that support this biota is what I have always been fascinated by. It has to be admitted that the biosphere is such an intricate entity that it is almost as if it were planned by a divine power.

As I’ve aged the evolution of humanity and the development of economic, political and social systems have been of growing interest. As such if I were to list areas of academia that I enjoy spending time studying, these would primarily be biology, zoology, geology, history, anthropology, politics, economics, sociology and etymology.

What subject could I possibly teach that would encapsulate all of these interests holistically? Geography is that subject. A friend of mine once stated that teachers should be well-meaning amateurs. We should teach about what interests us to the extent that if we weren’t teachers we would still study and be perpetually learning new aspects about our subject in our spare time. Geography enables me to keep studying the many subjects I find interesting and shows how they interrelate.

For more information on Worth School, visit the School website.

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