I woke up this morning to news of two extreme weather events on either side of the globe. Only yesterday was I leading
year 13 revision sessions on Tornadoes and Cyclones so reading the stories from Bangladesh and Texas this morning hit home.
When teaching about hazards and disasters it is easy to get bogged down in the numbers. We drill students with the step by step physical processes that create these phenomena (well explained here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5328524.stm). We boil down impacts into bullet pointed lists of economic, social, political and environmental and evaluate responses with a focus on "hitting assessment objective 2 in the examination". There is a danger that our approach to the content is callously mechanical.
Are we doing our students a diservice in this regard? Of course it is vitally important that they understand the subject well enough to get the grades that they deserve and as teachers it is our job to ensure that we provide them with the best opportunity to do so but sometimes I feel that the focus is skewed too far away from the human cost.
So as I discuss these events with my students today I will encourage us to take a moment to consider how the hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes in Bangladesh are feeling http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22537615. Or how those people who have lost their homes in Texas will pick themselves up and carry on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22549952. If students appreciate the power of natural processes and respect the human cost, they will write about them with more conviction, enthusiasm and sensitivity; something I expect of any serious geographer.