So what exactly goes on in Gilray? A quick look at Social Studies & Geography

By Andrew Karlsberg | Posted: Sunday November 25, 2018

Tucked away on the other side of the road, away from the glare of Science, Maths and the ever watchful eye of Senior Management, is Gilray.

Some students may spend their entire time at Johnnie's without ever heading over to where the grass really is greener, so just in case you were wondering Gilray is the home to Geography, Economics, a whole heap of Learning Support and of course the spiritual home of all things Social Studies.

With Peter McCall taking up the reigns of acting Head of Social Studies this year and Andrew Karlsberg coming in for Geography there have been a few changes in 2018 with more to follow in 2019...

So what is Social Studies?

Social Studies is a combination of a number of different subjects with a focus on understanding the world around us and how societies work and how people interact. Social Studies is approached in numerous different ways from one school to another but more often than not incorporates elements of History, Geography, and Citizenship. Year nine students tackle topics such as ‘Leadership and Government’ where we teach them about different forms of Government and how our system works, and why it needs to work. The study of ‘Migration’ lets us tackle the waves of migration to New Zealand, our History and how migrations continue to affect us today and will in the future. Year ten boys take on topics such as ‘Human Rights’, ‘Sustainability’ and the ever popular ‘Treaty of Waitangi’. Anything is up for discussion in Social Studies as long as it gets boys thinking out of their own little boxes.

Seniors often look back at Social Studies fondly as the subject where they go to talk about what was happening in the here and now and this is something I think Most Geographers and Historians especially are rather proud off, anything that gets boys thinking about anything other than themselves is always a plus.

So what about Geography?

Geo is a funny old subject; it’s what I say to bemused parents at open evenings, It’s a subject with an identity crisis. When done well it is both a Science and Humanity. Physical Geography requires a good grip on all kinds of science from geology to hydrology or perhaps better explained as to how are rocks formed and how can water break stuff? On the Cultural side of Geography we are interested in how we interact with our Environment, The effects of Tourism on Queenstown or the effects of flooding on South Dunedin to people and our economy. In turn, we can't really understand the flooding unless we understand the science which takes us full circle back to our Physical Geography and studies of Meteorology, Climatology and Coastal Erosion. In short, Geography offers a little something for everyone and can open a lot of doors for future study. This year alone the boys have tackled everything from Glaciers to Beaches, Freedom Campers to Ed Sheeran, from Sheep and Beef farms to Murder rates in Chicago... I really can’t think of another subject that offers such diverse content. 

So what have the Geography been up to in 2018:

Field trips mark the highlight of the Geographical school year and the ever popular level 2 field trip to Mount Cook, and the renewal of the Level 3 trip to Queenstown was no exception. Twenty-odd Year 12 boys headed up to Mount Cook in term two, and we're blessed with great weather for both the journey there and back, in fact, the weather was only against us on the one day we planned to carry out most of our Geography.

Not to be daunted by sleeting rain and snow the brave boys of level two Geo tackled the effluent ponds and recycling centre of Mount Cook with only the occasional moan and groan every few minutes or so. On the plus side, the happy coincidence that we shared the YHA with Saint Hilda's College offered both boys and staff alike two evenings of camp like shenanigan form which this teacher is still recovering. Highlights, apart from the Geography, of course, included the sighting of Renaissance man Tom Johnstone lovingly handcrafting bite size pikelets to hand around the Hildy's girls and Patrick Wilson-Stewarts record-breaking sit-in of the hostel Sauna while fully dressed.

For the Year 13 boys, the reinstatement of the Tourism Case study in Queenstown was their constant focus throughout terms one and two, and after constant badgering, which is odd in a country without badgers Mr Karlsberg gave in to request if only to shut of Jake Wilsman and Tyler Wilden.  The enthusiasm of the boys was tempered only by the discovery that they would be staying at the Southland Ski lodge on Coronet Peak and in fact nowhere near the party centre of Queenstown itself. From a study perspective, the trip was a great success with boys meeting with QLDC, visiting Millbrook Resort where Paddy Baxter kindly talked us through the development and some of the mind-boggling figures involved in the property market of Queenstown. Meetings with Ski NZ and a day in lieu of travel spent skiing made for a very successful trip that will most definitely be up for consideration again next year.  

Social Studies and Geography are subjects that never really sit still so watch this space as we head into 2019. 

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