Students preparing for this year’s Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) geography exams in July, at the fifth and sixth form level, can now access free help in their exam prep with the launch of a YouTube channel called School of Geography by Leah Fouchong.
“I want to help students to achieve their possible grade and to enjoy geography,” said Fouchong in a recent interview with Sunday Newsday.
A geography teacher at St Francois Girls’ College, Fouchong had the idea of creating the YouTube channel for years and saw the transition to online learning, due to covid19, as a perfect opportunity to make it reality.
For Fouchong, offering free online classes was also important to close the gap in learning especially for students disproportionally effected by covid19.
“I actually wrote it down (creating the school) as a goal and it has always been something I wanted to get done.
“When the pandemic started, I saw a few other teachers around the Caribbean started YouTube channels.
“I thought about it and thought that launching the School of Geography in this way would help me reach a larger body of students. So, I think the pandemic gave me the push to finally start.”
At least three times a week, Fouchong livestreams the online lessons on the School of Geography’s YouTube page.
In the videos, Fouchong gives students a crash course on different topics covered in the subject’s CXC syllabus at both the fifth and sixth form level.
The first topic she did, for the launch of the channel, covered the mapwork section of the geography syllabus.
Fouchong said some students often find this section of the syllabus difficult.
“I felt that through the individual lesson classes I was doing, or group sessions, a lot of the students were very weak with map reading.
“So, I decided I would focus on doing some mapwork session with the students viewing online to get them prepared for the exams.”w
Given mapwork is a practical aspect of the geography exams, and often requires time to practise in a classroom setting, Fouchong said it is important that students practice the skills at home.
By doing so, Fouchong said students can make up for any shortcomings they may have from not being in a classroom.
“Currently, I am still in the process of finishing up the mapwork section of the syllabus.
“That particular portion of the mapwork section that I’m focusing on is called landscape descriptions and it is quite heavy.”
Once Fouchong is finished with mapwork, she’ll move on to the other topics in the syllabus.
Students engaging in Fouchong’s online videos aren’t only from TT.
“Through the YouTube channel, students are able to interact with other students from all over the Caribbean.
“I’ve had some Jamaican students which is so nice because they can give you responses in respect to Jamaica.
“So, students engaging in the videos get an idea to learn more about the countries for the exam which is important.”
Apart from simply watching her videos, Fouchong encourages students to do past papers.
While Fouchong’s latest efforts are geared towards assisting students preparing for the CXC exams, she doesn’t plan to stop there.
After the exams, she plans to do videos which cover the curriculum in all forms.
With some students often thinking geography is a difficult subject, Fouchong hopes her latest efforts continue to change the narrative surrounding the subject.
“Geography is definitely one of those subjects that is quite heavy given the syllabus is very heavy and also, it requires a lot of analytical skills like critical thinking.
“What I have discovered with students, in the past, is that they would be so comfortable with the knowledge questions but when it gets to that analysis of explaining…that is where they are usually challenged.”
Understanding why students may have this challenge towards the subject, Fouchong is an advocate for engaging students beyond the textbooks using tools like field trips.
While field trips may not be possible now, due to covid19, Fouchong encourages students to still explore their immediate environments at home and use the internet to explore the world.
By not only becoming more observant of the world around them, she said it is also a great way for students to begin analysing the processes that shape the world and develop their critical thinking skills.
“My advice for students that are pursuing geography is to debunk that myth that geography is hard. It is probably a heavy subject but it also a really enjoyable subject because it is alive and around you.”
Students can like the School of Geography page on Facebook and subscribe to its channel on YouTube.