GCSE History vs Geography

(48 Posts)
louisea Thu 20-Dec-12 18:25:59

DTs will probably have to choose between the two. What would be likely considerations? They are more science inclined than English. Don't like writing essays much. Is that something to take in to account when making the choice?

AlexanderS Thu 20-Dec-12 18:30:45

History is lots of essays. There is more overlap between geography and science. But your DCs must have an idea of which they'd rather study.

Jobforlife Thu 20-Dec-12 18:32:49

Have they any preference themselves? It's a cite easier to study either subject if you're interested in it....
After that, I'd say that geography does seem to sit well with the sciences and maths, whilst History sits with English/Languages.

I am a geography teacher so a bit bias. However as eveyone else has said geo does have a fair amount of science in it and if they find science interesting I would imagne that Geography would appeal to them.

Indyteach Thu 20-Dec-12 19:26:46

As a geography teacher (married to a history teacher) I'd say this is a false choice and source of much misunderstanding. Unless they have a very small conort, schools should be offering the choice to do both. On the other hand, they shouldn't really be forcing children to do either (although they may wish to do this now as it looks like being part of the EBACC stipulation that schools are already being ranked on in some quarters even though the decisions haven't been finalised).

If pupils are trying to make the choice to do one or the other, they should do the one they enjoy most, as this will help them put in the work needed to do well. Potentially more extended writing in history and more breadth of skills in geography, but it depends on the board the school follows.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 20-Dec-12 19:34:55

My DD could do both but will almost certainly drop history. She's science-inclined and loves the physical geography side. Doesn't really see the point of history - neither did I at that age, it seemed like something you could just read about or learn from documentaries. I rather think that to be really good at history - the analysis side not pointless fact regurgitation - requires more maturity of mind.

ravenAK Thu 20-Dec-12 19:42:33

Can you ask what exam board(s) are used, & look up some past papers/specifications online? Check any coursework requirements too.

This will give your dc more idea what they'll actually be doing.

Also a good idea to get them to chat to their current teachers in both subjects.

HappyTurquoise Thu 20-Dec-12 20:13:50

Well, DD had very good scores in both subjects up to having to choose, but didn't want to do both (already had an academic timetable from other choices). My advice was to do Geography because her love for history will mean that she will eventually pick it up effortlessly through reading and watching films for pleasure. Also, History is always someone else's story, and it is never possible to see things from all sides, so in a sense it is less likely to remain an appealing subject to her scientific mind. There is also a lot of essay writing in History. The History teacher was encouraging her to let her heart decide and choose the subject she loves the most, but I feel that History is getting a bad press and is a much more popular choice than Geography. Also with History, it helps to look at the specific syllabus to be covered, as if it seems boring or repetitive to your DC, there is no escape from it. At least with Geography there is a choice of locations to focus on in the essays.

She wavered over her choice but eventually went for Geography. At first I wasn't sure if I should have weighted my arguments so heavily towards Geography, she got a B for her first half term. We got her report today and she got a 1 for effort (exceptionally good) and an A grade for the second half of the term 'without trying too hard'.

Dancergirl Thu 20-Dec-12 23:26:00

I did Geography GCSE and not History and really regret it now. My knowledge of History is pitiful. I know you can read up about it as an adult but it's not the same thing.

I would look beyond not wanting to write essays. History is hugely important, I would go as far to say it should probably be compulsory.

SavoirFaire Thu 20-Dec-12 23:27:02

Definitely more cross over with science in geography, so it is either or and they are people who would benefit from the similarities then this might be the way to go. But there is a lot to gain from breadth in the curriculum as well.

However, for a teen who 'doesn't see the point in history' I would, personally, make history entirely compulsory. It is the one subject I will be gutted if my children don't choose (I know, I am likely to be hopelessly disappointed). I only studied it to 16 (DH has a degree in it), but it is the subject which offers the most insight into the world IMO. I hate to sound Govian, but I do sort of think History should be a mandatory subject for all.

Dancergirl Thu 20-Dec-12 23:28:20

Hear, hear savoir

Indyteach Fri 21-Dec-12 10:26:36

History and Geography were once both compulsory to 16 and this has not been ruled out for the future in the current consultation. I agree with those who think history is vital, but it is those with an insight into geographical processes and our changing world who will create the history studied by our descendants. That's why I think they go so well together, history is geography in the past; geography is history in the making.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 21-Dec-12 11:13:26

>History and Geography were once both compulsory to 16

were they? They certainly weren't when I was doing O levels in 1977. We were only allowed to do 8 so if you wanted 3 sciences and an MFL, along with maths and 2x English (which were compulsory for us) it was impossible to do both. DH(same year) couldn't do geography because he wanted to do history (because of fabulous teacher who made up for deficiencies in English teaching) and was forced to do Latin and Divinity (he had to drop Biology too because of those which was worse hmm).

When I said I couldn't see the point of history - it was more that I couldn't see the necessity of being taught it versus other subjects - like HTs DD, it seemed something more readily picked up naturally. My own DD loved it in Yr7 when her excellent HT taught her class - this year and last she's had a distinctly uninspirational teacher. She's been through the list of history and geography teachers at her school and the latter are IHO better - which can be another relevant factor.

oldpeculiar Fri 21-Dec-12 11:14:06

I have heard History is harder to get a good grade in because (Whispers) even quite dim kids can do well at it.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Fri 21-Dec-12 11:27:02

Which subject do they like better? Which has better teachers? Look at last few years school results -in our school one got significantly better results!

Lilymaid Fri 21-Dec-12 12:16:43

History and Geography were once both compulsory to 16
Not in the late 1960s - at my grammar school the choices available then were that you probably had to take one of them, but no requirement to take both - so there couldn't have been any government requirement to take both. DH took history only. I took both as they were favourite subjects.

glaurung Fri 21-Dec-12 14:40:33

Geography usually gets more exciting excursions (measuring beaches or rivers etc) than history if that matters to them.

wildirishrose Fri 21-Dec-12 16:48:44

My DD is doing both Geog and History at the moment, she is really enjoying it. I would do both if he is finding it hard to choose.

3b1g Fri 21-Dec-12 16:53:37

I did neither to GCSE (gave up both at the end of Y9) and it has never held me back. If pressed, I would count Latin as my 'humanity' subject; the course we did involved some Roman history.

For your DTs, I would look primarily at which subject they enjoy most. If they enjoy both then at most schools they would be allowed to study both. If they enjoy neither, then look at an alternative e.g. R.S.

HeathRobinson Fri 21-Dec-12 17:05:06

For me, the problem with geography at GCSE is that it moves away from physical geography to human geography, dunno if they're the right terms.

Dd took geography but found the human element dull as ditchwater.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 21-Dec-12 19:49:42

HR - know what you mean ...Dairying in Denmark <yawn> . Not sure what they do in history now but it seemed to me (as a callow teen) that it took a distinct downturn from the fun Greek/Roman/ through to Elizabethan era we got in the pre-O level years, judging from my friends moaning about essays about the Chartists (interesting as they may be in reality to a grownup)

vj32 Fri 21-Dec-12 20:16:49

Look at the two courses in detail. History will almost certainly contain Nazi Germany and two other topics. History is not a huge amount more writing than geography, possibly less extended writing than at KS3 depending on how that was assessed, as most of the exam questions will want one or two paragraph answers. They will have to do lots of writing in class. Don't go for history if its WJEC.

bruffin Fri 21-Dec-12 20:28:21

My dcs both did/is doing WJEC history. They both really enjoy it.

BestIsWest Fri 21-Dec-12 20:40:38

I've got one doing WJEC history too and loving it. The other loved it so much she's doing it at Uni. Both were stronger in English than science. DS took a long time to choose between them but in the end went for History because he liked it more and I think that is the key.

bruffin Fri 21-Dec-12 20:59:52

My ds is much stronger at science and maths but always loved history. My dd is a bit more of an all rounder.

louisea Sat 22-Dec-12 00:07:33

Thank you everyone for your ideas and opinions. Lots to think about. Will show some of this to the boys and will also check out which exam boards the school uses. Previously they were inclined to take History but after an assembly this week at school they have changed to Geography. They were told that they would have to write lots of 3 page essays in History, not so much in Geography. Neither of the boys like writing essays much.

We have a few things to discuss before they make a decision. Will also be interesting to hear what the school have to say at the parent's meeting in January.

BestIsWest Sun 23-Dec-12 17:02:00

vj32 Out of interest, why not WJEC History?

BestIsWest Sun 23-Dec-12 17:03:48

vj32 Out of interest, why not WJEC History?

amillionyears Sun 23-Dec-12 17:13:09

Always have 1 eye on the jobs market I say.
As far as I know, there are more jobs available, in the UK, as afar as I know, in Geography rather then History.

Is History or Geography likely to be a choice for them at A Level?

SavoirFaire Mon 24-Dec-12 23:31:30

Apparently about 80% of jobs recruited at 'milk-round' level are entirely non-degree specific. (I was told this by the head of the careers service at an RG University, who speaks to grad recruiters all the time and has research backing up a number approximating to this %). I highly doubt that you are significantly more employable with geography than with history tbh.

seeker Wed 26-Dec-12 07:18:55

Not sure how relevant the "keeping an eye on the jobs market" thing is for GCSE options.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 26-Dec-12 14:19:59

Its probably only relevant you're likely to want to actually be in something highly related to either subject - which if the child already has an inkling of then they wouldn't be asking the question, it'd be a no-brainer.

jinglebellyalltheway Wed 26-Dec-12 14:22:49

Geography counts as a science for lots of sciencey degrees, and there are geography elements in a lot of non sceience degrees

History is IMO more of an arts subject, and even if they want to opt for archaeology in the BSc spectrum of history, geography and survey skills are key for that too!

amillionyears Wed 26-Dec-12 17:36:10

At age 14ish, some pupils are starting to think more seriously about what they want to do jobs wise.
The op wants considerations for her DTs.
Possible jobs is a consideration.
Gives the op an avenue of discussion about loose discussion of the way the DTs are thinking job wise.

For instance, they may be more thinking of an outdoors job than an indoors. Geography can have elements of outdoors, history mainly indoors.

HettyD Fri 28-Dec-12 19:34:09

History and geography really need to be considered as to both content studied (history will be 4 units, no guarantee of Nazi's!!) and the Skills - controlled assessment is 25% so independent research is important, also forming reasoned arguments, presenting and working in groups, drawing conclusions etc. Both are good subjects and with EBacc are now being pushed by many schools, but consider child's preference for subject at KS3, English/Science is a good guideline but by yr9 presume they will have an idea of teachers and teaching? Think about future plans but I would recommend going with something they enjoy and feel they can do... (But am Hums teacher so biased!!)

Gasmark4 Tue 01-Jan-13 11:25:43

Geo for my DD was gr8, good teacher, good exam board so good content, enjoyable. It makes holidays interesting as it's all related and easy to see - sea features, rivers, flooding! etc.
History is lots of essays and exams boards content differs alot - not all English history!
Go for Geo!

marriedandwreathedinholly Tue 01-Jan-13 12:43:19

From a slightly different angle, it is worth having a look at the school's a'level results for each subject. If one subject has significantly lower results than another then it is likely that the teaching may be poor and it may be a waste of time if the subject is unlikely to be well taught at a'level where it really matters.

weegiemum Tue 01-Jan-13 13:57:28

I did geog at standard grade cos I liked the teacher better!
Ended up doing higher, csys, degree, teacher training and I've never regretted it!

losingtrust Fri 04-Jan-13 08:12:16

I have a history bias as if you love it it is a good one to do and much easier to get a good grade if you are really interested. My ds wants to do both but is always reading either a history or geography book. Career wise history is far better for legal/pension/insurance/financial careers as you need to be able to research and remember old trust agreements/laws etc some dating back to feudal times. Therefore it depends on the type of career and how interested your boys are in the subject but I would not discount history as a bad career subject.

losingtrust Fri 04-Jan-13 08:30:22

You can choose where to do your a'levels and many people do change at 16.

Lucycat Sat 05-Jan-13 18:55:50

Ok geography teacher bias here. I am essentially a physical geographer at A Level but the GCSEcourse is much more balanced in terms of content. The best advice I shall give to my year 9s next week is to do the subject that they enjoy as that is most certaianly the one that they will do the best in, don't go for the teacher as a reason but think about your balance of GCSEs and where you want to 'go' after - more boys at our school take geography. I have 32 in my GCSE class (again!) of which 26 are boys.

The longest answer we have at GCSE at the moment is an 8 mark answer (AQA A syllabus)whch requires good exam skills to achieve the high level answer - no waffling time allowed!

Good luck in your choice DTs!

louisea Tue 15-Jan-13 09:28:50

Thanks everyone for your perspectives. We have options evening today for the parents.

soverylucky Tue 15-Jan-13 17:44:37

I would strongy suggest that they go for the one that they enjoy the most. If they genuinely like both the same then it comes down to the actual content of each course. I can't believe that people are making assumptions about what will or will not be on the syllabus when each school can do a different exam board and even the same board will have different unit options.

Startail Thu 17-Jan-13 21:05:13

Geography, Our history is all modern stuff and depressing beyond belief.
Huge unit on the Holocaust and assorted other joyful things.

Important yes, but for revising at 1am, I'd much prefer glaciation.

Copthallresident Thu 17-Jan-13 21:37:46

Both DDs did History and Geography and both found Geography easier to get a good grade in, and one DD is now doing History A level. History is heavy on essay writing and the use of historical skills such as use of sources, whereas Geography is more about bitesize learning. Both DDs are dyslexic though so that may be a factor. In the end it is about interest though.

Startail Thu 17-Jan-13 22:45:46

Yes, DD1 is dyslexic and History HW seemed to take forever, so she' s opted for Geography.

I did both back in the dark ages of O level, and much preferred Geography. Human geography was dull, but lots of nice sciency physical stuff and no dates.

I actually got A in both, but the History was luck. First two questions were the thing I'd crammed the night before and steel making. DDad worked in a steel works and I'd listened to that bit.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 23-Jan-13 22:45:16

History does have alot of essays and agree that Geography contains more science. My 2 dss took Geography and hated it as they considered it to be everything but Geography. Unfortunately a while ago so can't say which board.
I think they will know for themselves and suggest looking at the content with them and asking teachers to clarify what each one entails.

Kathy420 Fri 25-Jan-13 23:10:26

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