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‘Where are the buses’?: Role of geography fieldwork in a socially fragmented world
Globalised world
Social fragmentation
Critical thinking
Issue Date: 
Ooi, G. L. (2008). ‘Where are the buses’?: Role of geography fieldwork in a socially fragmented world. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 17(1), 33-41.
In a world that is increasingly fragmented and polarised, fieldwork becomes far more
important than ever before in understanding social and cultural differences. This paper considers
the role of fieldwork in geography for students from small countries like the city-state of Singapore
as well as the understanding of political and economic differences that exist in the region.
Socialised into a highly planned urban environment in which public goods and services are
taken for granted such as urban transport networks that are crucial in the functioning of cities,
final year university students majoring in geography from the National Institute of Education
found themselves highly challenged in locating similar urban provisions in their fieldwork site in
neighbouring Malaysia. Where are the buses? was the first question posed by a group once
they had reached the island of Pulau Langkawi, off the northwestern coast of Peninsular
Malaysia. The assumption underlying the question was that other worlds would not be too
different from that which the students are familiar the well-organised and well-planned citystate
of Singapore. Post-structuralists suggest that education is a process through which subjects
are formed while formal education in most countries can be considered to be a state project
since it is based on national school curricula. Foucault 's concept of governmentality concerns
how states determine the types of knowledge and practices that are to be communicated to
students and hence, create the support for the state s developmental agenda and its
rationalisation. This paper argues that fieldwork is crucial in the development of critical thinking
and students understanding of the geographies of an increasingly fragmented world.
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