Every teacher knows that feeling of pure bliss after a lesson was a complete success. Those are the times you are just smiling ear-to-ear as you walk to the parking lot at the end of the day. It is a feeling like no other, and once you feel it, you are on a quest to create as many of those types of lessons as possible. … Continue reading 10 Free Ways To Grow As An Educator
EDUCATION What do Nat Geo Education Blog readers read? Here are the activities, stories, pictures, and assorted oddities you pushed to the top of our charts in 2016. (Nat Geo Education) Discussion Ideas What do Nat Geo Education readers read about? Politics! In this intensely political year, our readers relied on our study guides for controversial issues such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, the … Continue reading What Did You Read in 2016?
EDUCATION What do Nat Geo Education Blog readers read? Here are the activities, stories, pictures, and assorted oddities you pushed to the top of our charts in 2015. (Nat Geo Education) Our Daily Content page is a great primer on all the content available from Nat Geo Education—10 fresh ideas, every day of the year, from quick vocabulary words to fully fleshed out and standards-aligned … Continue reading What Did You Read in 2015?
It’s time for our annual Blog-A-Thon, and WE WANT YOU! Every year during Geography Awareness Week, National Geographic Education hosts a blog-a-thon, in which we feature blog posts from students, parents, scientists, scout troops, geographers, geography-enthusiasts, explorers and more! Do you have a job in geography? Do you study geography? Do you just plain LOVE geography? Write us a blog of roughly 300-500 words … Continue reading The 2012 Geography Awareness Week BLOG-A-THON!
This blog-a-thon submission comes from Debbie Glade of Wandering Educators. Debbie writes about her concerns for geo-literacy in our youth as she poses the question: can your child locate Washington D.C. on a map? To read more from Debbie check out the Wandering Educators website or follow this link to access the original blog.
As a former travel writer and children’s book author, I have had the great pleasure of meeting many elementary age children in South Florida from so many backgrounds. From low and no income families to the most privileged children in private academies, the students at the schools and libraries I visit are eager to learn. Each school visit is wonderfully unique, yet one aspect remains the same.
Children are significantly lacking in basic geography knowledge.
As part of my program, children are asked to participate in a geography Q and A. I ask the students to point out destinations on a large map of the USA. The vast majority of the children, ages 7-11, are unable to answer simple questions such as, “Can you show me where Washington DC is located?” or “Where is the Atlantic Ocean?” Keep in mind these children are Floridians, and we live along the Atlantic Ocean.
At one private school I visited, the principal told me she was embarrassed by the inability of the students to point out the capital city of Florida and name or locate any of the five Great Lakes. “Do you have a geography program here?” I asked her.
“We do starting today,” she responded.
That’s music to my ears.
It’s not just elementary age students who are struggling with geography. The problem extends through high school and beyond. The 2006 National Geographic – Roper Survey of Geographic Literacy reported that half of young Americans, ages 18-24, were unable to find NY City on a map. That statistic is so shocking that it does not even seem to be accurate. Yet sadly, it is.
What happens to young adults who cannot answer basic questions about their own state or country? What other crucial knowledge are they lacking? What does this mean for their future?
I cannot answer these questions. But I can inspire you to take your own steps to help improve this situation:
1) For starters, parents need to complain to school officials about the lack of geography education. Many schools are so busy teaching math, reading and writing to help their students pass state standardized tests that they don’t have time or resources to teach geography. Encourage schools to contact the National Council for Geographic Education for materials and program support.
2) A simple step for parents to take is to put a large map of the US or the world on a wall in their home, so kids can look at it often. Maps are so inexpensive! (I found both a world and US map set on clearance at a bookstore for $5 total!) If you mount the map on a lightweight foam board first, you can stick pins in all the places you have visited. Once the map is on the wall, you can study it with your kids, ask questions, point out unique destinations and research them in books and online. You’ll all learn together. It sure comes in handy when planning for your summer vacation!
3) Search for contests and programs that encourage geography knowledge, such as the National Geography Bee.
4) Get a subscription to a geography magazine for your children.