Geography Education

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The state of geography education in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries worldwide needs much improvement.  Listed here are essays on why geographic study is important and reports about the state of geography education.

Study Geography

While mainly aimed as a guide for students considering studying geography in the United Kingdom, the Study Geography web site was created by the Royal Geographical Society provides valuable information for any potential geography majors.  The site provides arguments on the benefits of studying geography, how to decide which aspects of geography to study and more specific information about applying to study geography at a UK university.  The last section on the site covers post-graduate career opportunities including a review of the three general career choices for geography graduates and printable “career cards” which highlight examples of geography majors and their jobs.

Geographic Study Leads to Understanding

Read this essay by Neal G. Lineback, professor emeritus of geography at Appalachian State University in Boone, on the importance of teaching more that rote memorization of geographic names and places in American education.  Neal Lineback notes in his opening statement:

Most geographic scholars attribute their earliest interest in geography to their exposure to maps and map-reading experiences. This observation has major unappreciated implications for U.S. school curricula.

The drawback, he argues, is that this method of teaching geography has resulted in “at least two or three generations of students have graduated with little appreciation for geography as an analytical technique“.   Neil Lineback concludes “When teachers then resort to rote memorization of place names instead of using maps to show and analyze spatial patterns, huge learning opportunities are lost.”

Source: Winston-Salem Journal

Bring Back Geography

Jerome Dobson, president of the American Geographical Society as well as a professor of Geography at the University of Kansas in Lawrence has an essay on the demise of geography within the American conscience and how we all, as avid geographers, can help bring back the discipline of geography to all education levels.  Read: Bring Back Geography! by Jerome E. Dobson, ArcUser.

Study Finds Most U.S. College-aged Adults Illiterate in Geography

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs Geographic Study recently released found that most young adults (between 18 and 24) were unable to find significant geographic locations on a map and displayed a very limited understanding of the world.  Among the questions asked, the survey found that:

  • Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
  • 6 in 10 young Americans don’t speak a foreign language fluently.
  • 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It’s the largest country in Africa.)
  • 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim. (It’s Hindu—by a landslide.)
  • Half of young Americans can’t find New York on a map.

The survey was conducted face-to-face between December 20, 2005 and January 20, 2006 among a nationwide sample of 510 young adults.  The full survey, methodology and results are available in PDF format from National Geographic’s web site.

Source: National Geographic

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