Mapping at Benfield School

Benfield’s year 7 geography classroom has polite, well-ordered maps neatly pinned to the classroom walls. They gasp as Mike jabs a pen through an official tourist map of Newcastle. It leaves a jagged hole, but Mike keep secret where his favourite place of actually is. They want to go there now but we are off somewhere even more interesting.

There is fascinating, involving action as we shove back the desks, roll out paper on the floor and trace round their bodies. Groups are encouraged to pile in and map out their everyday geographies in, and outside, their body outlines.

We’ve never had a map with a toucan on before, but we have now. Pets and football feature large. The most curious route? One lad’s trip to school from Benwell, via the school’s non-negotiables then on holiday to Mexico. Or you can go from Call of Duty directly to China via Grand Theft Auto. There are a lot of rabbits, dogs and pizza on these maps too, sentimental lists of friends and doodles of family all lined up as if for a photograph. The maps buzz with colour. Distantly, often down at the toes, uncertain futures or definite ambition are traced out in tiny letters.

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