Geography Is a Separate Subject? Really?
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October 21, 2011 By: Silvia Tolisano
How is geography being taught in your school? Is it a weekly time block designated under the umbrella of Social Studies in Elementary School? Is it a semester or one year required credit course in High School?
Geography is a separate subject. Really? Heidi Hayes Jacobs says (p. 36) in her Curriculum 21. (ASCD, 2010) book:
Geography should be cut as a snapshot unit with an integrated approach continuously woven into the academic year. Rather than the token "let's start off the school year with our classic unit on geography," the curriculum should include an ongoing injection and use of geography and a full range of maps. When schools do not use maps of all kinds with regularity in a range of classes (English, science, art), our students do not get to apply geography in a meaningful way.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs compares a segregated and isolated teaching unit of geography to a first grade teacher posting an ABCs poster on the wall, only to take it down after a month.
It is about making continuous connections of geography themes to what we teach. Where does the content fit into the world? How does the content relate to other subject areas. How does it affect the people who live there? Where do we find Math concepts in the physical world around us? Do literary or historic perspectives change due to geographic locations? How does Geography impact the economy? How can we help classroom teachers make these connections from their teaching subject/content to geographic awareness/compentency?
Vivek Wathwa states in an article on TechCrunch
about American competitiveness in the global educational field that
if we create the incentives for American children to study math and science and to complete advanced degrees, the magic will happen. In addition to math and science, we should teach our children about world culture, geography, and global markets. In the era of globalization, these subjects are equally important.
Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) recently tweeted
Really heartsick about NC's decision to make social studies a history instead of geography focus. That's narrowminded in today's world.
If geography is equally important as math and science, than why is it being made a "lesser" focus? I presented recently at the Teacher2Teacher conference in Bow Island, Alberta, Canada. The topic of one of my sessions was: "Geography is All Around Us" Take a look at the slides and check out the tools and resource links discussed at the presentation for examples how geography can AND should be integrated into other subject areas.
Resource Links: Google Maps Google Earth VoiceThread Wikis Blogs Skype Twitter
How do you integrate Geography into your subject area? How can you upgrade one unit, one lesson or one assignment to integrate geography. What tools are you using? What projects are participating in? Please share you tips and techniques.
Take a look at previous blog posts on Langwitches with examples of Geography integration:
Here are a few tips through Twitter.