Geography Literacy



Essay on Why We Need to Improve Geographic Literacy

One of the top blogs out there focusing on geography as a discipline is Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze.  Patrick Abbott,who runs that blog, has an essay on in their “As I see it” section entitled “Why we need to improve geographic literacy“.  In the essay, Abbott argues that the media’s portrayal of geography has to move beyond depicting the discipline as merely about the rote memorization of places and countries.

Geography is more than place memorization. It is a spatial science that involves studying what is where, why it is there and why people should care. This expands geography to include places, cultures, environmental patterns and behavior by persons and cultures.

Read more: Why we need to improve geographic literacy

Can Posh and Becks Make Geography Interesting?

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in the United Kingdom certainly thinks so.  Charged with developing the National Curriculum, the governing body is urging teachers of grade level students to “use music, films and soaps as an accessible, contemporary and different source of geographical information.”  Examples provided on the web site to make geography lessons more appealing is the use of David and Victoria Beckham’s family to understand socioeconomic decisions, watching mob movies to understand the geographic differences between north and south Italy, and Disney movies to understand biodiversity.  The suggestions have been heavily criticised by many as patronizing and representing a dumbing down of geography.  Chris Woodhead, Ofsted’s former chief inspector of schools, accused the QCA of “dumbing down” the “intelligence, challenge and excitement” of geography.  Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University, added: “What would excite young people is gaining a growing interest in the world. They can’t do this when they’re being patronised and talked down to.”

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Geography being left behind?

April 24, 2007: With the teaching of geography being left up to the discretion of local teachers, it is becoming more and more a side topic in many schools, taught mixed in with other subjects.  As a result, students are often uneducated in aspects of geography with a recent National Geographic Survey showing that even college students are unable to locate well known points of interest on a map.  Help may soon arrive via the Senate:

Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., recently introduced in Congress the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act. If passed, the bill would authorize competitive grants through the Department of Education to improve K-12 geography curriculum, teacher training and instructional materials.

Read more:

Daytona Beach News Journal: Geography Lost: The Why of Where

The Rutland Herald: What in the world happened to geography?

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1 Comment

  1. Hello:

    I’m a high school science teacher in New York’s Hudson Valley and have used Google Earth chapter tours, of nonfiction literature, to engage students in maritime literature, geography and marine science. The site is



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