For the past 100 years this instruction method has solidified its position as the fundamental principle for content development in elemental geography. However, restricting the range of students’ learning environments has actually served to turn off s ...
For the past 100 years this instruction method has solidified its position as the fundamental principle for content development in elemental geography. However, restricting the range of students’ learning environments has actually served to turn off students’interest in geography and to limit their scope of thinking. Despite this fact, the widening horizons persists to this day, even as it fails to accommodate the changes in and trends of the current times, and even though it features outdated logic from about 100 years ago. Critical reflection on and empirical studies of this type of curriculum has therefore become essential. Accordingly, the goal of this study is to shed light on the need for revising the widening horizons and also on the need to find alternatives to it, by discussing the theoretical principles behind the curriculum. This study also aims to search for ways to move beyond the widening horizons approach through empirical research. The results obtained in this study are as follows.
In terms of theory discussion, the origins and development stages of the widening horizons are first examined, and then the developmental psychology and empirical aspects of the curriculum’s theoretical foundations are considered. Next, in an attempt to search for ways to move beyond the widening horizons approach, existing studies that criticize and suggest alternatives to the widening horizons are presented. Through all of the above, it became clear that the widening horizons has failed to adequately reflect students’ interest concerning the global scale.
Next, surveys were carried out on elementary school students, in an effort to search for ways to move beyond the widening horizons through empirical research. Scale, knowledge, interest, experience and life factors were considered as our logic basis. Based on these factors, issues such as which scales elementary school students preferred, what the content preference rates were for each scale, and any tendencies evident in such preference rates were interpreted with respect to grade level in school.
Results of our survey showed that first, interest in the global scale appeared highest across all grades. In contrast, a little interest in the local community scale began to appear in the higher grade-levels. Such tendencies appeared uniformly in both the content preference and text preference according to scale as well. Therefore, the global scale should be the centerpiece in the overall spatial environment, but contents for the national scale and local town scale should be increased gradually with higher grade-levels.
Secondly, in terms of deciding on scale preference, the interest factor was more important in the lower grade-levels, whereas factors other than interest, such as knowledge, experience and life factors were more influential in the higher grade-levels. This was because for the global scale, curiosity and interest exert a significant interest, but on moving toward the local community scale, students wish to acquire more knowledge, and they want to think in relation to ‘me’ and to ‘us’. Therefore in the lower grade-levels, content related to global scale should be developed around interest, and in the higher grade-levels, content related to national scale and local community scale must be developed by considering additional factors other than interest, such as knowledge, experience and life factors.
In this way, elementary school students showed the greatest interest in the global scale. Therefore if academic content is developed based on scale preference rate, the spatial system used in the widening horizons is not valid. Instead, content should be developed with the global scale as the centerpiece, and national scale and local community scale as additional features. Finally, if students’ interest in scales is considered, a discussion of ways to move beyond the widening horizons will be meaningful to content development in elementary geography.