Confessions of a Frustrated Cultural Geographer

My name is Ben, a MA Cultural Geography Research student at Royal Holloway, University of London, an achievement which is the culmination of over 15 years of frustration.

You see, I was greatly inspired at school by a fantastic Geography teacher – Mr. Laing. He was one of those teachers that everyone remembers. He clearly loved his subject and installed in me a deep love and fascination of Geography, notably Human Geography. Whilst not being a Geography teacher, Mr. Laing had a sideline as a DJ, and his unique personality and musical knowledge once earned him a week’s residency on Channel 4’s ‘The Big Breakfast’ – remember that??

When it came to applying for university at the age of 18, I wanted to combine my enjoyment of Geography and Journalism – however hard I tried to find a combined honours course covering the two, the timetables always seemed to clash. Therefore, a choice had to be made. I went with Media & Journalism and made a vow to return to university to study Geography at a later date.

As the years went by, I went into Primary School teaching in South-West London, and developed a passion for planning and delivering creative Geography lessons with the aim to make the young children that I was responsible develop a love for the subject that I had. There was still that sense of frustration that I had never taken my love of Geography further. Finally, an opportunity presented itself in a rather bizarre way. I took several pupils from my school to Royal Holloway, University of London as part of a project to introduce children from families who had never attended higher education to foster aspirations of university study. Whilst there I got talking to a member of university staff about my passion for Geography, and she just happened to mention Royal Holloway’s status as one of the leading Cultural Geography centres. It all went from there and now, in September 2014 I finally fulfilled my dream of studying Geography again. The Cultural Geography MA at Royal Holloway is a research based course which allows individuals to pursue a specialism around which to frame the papers and dissertation you write. For me, it is Cornish Culture & Identity – hence the name of this site Doronieth Kernow – Doronieth is the Cornish word for Geography and Kernow the name for Cornwall in the native tongue. My next blog entry on here will explain why Cornwall.

However, frustration remains – frustration that it has taken 15 years to get my teeth back into Geography, and also frustration that, in order to fund the course I am only able to do it part-time. I dearly want to read, study and research Cultural Geography and how it relates specifically to Cornwall more than I am able to due to time and work constraints. But, at the end of the day I have to remember that I am fortunate – fortunate to be in a position to be studying Geography again, fortunate to be in such a renowned and supportive Geography institution as Royal Holloway, and fortunate to be immersed in notions of Cornish Culture and Identity.


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