A while ago, I published a post about the importance of geography in which I described how my passion for geography was ignited by the simple act of receiving a geographic encyclopedia from my parents when I was a child. This week is Geography Awareness Week, the perfect moment for a follow-up post on why geography matters. Plus, it’s Thanksgiving… and I’m thankful that my interest in geography was sparked at such an early age! 🙂
Geography is a lot more than being able to point out a country on a world map or knowing the capital city of every country in the world (though if you did, I would be VERY impressed!). It’s about getting to know our world and its people better and understanding what makes societies tick. Geography helps to trigger our curiosity and as we become more curious, our awareness grows. We begin to see that our world extends a lot farther than the boundaries of the town we live in. It opens our eyes to different cultures and perspectives, and helps us grow as well-rounded, emphatic individuals.
In conjunction with Geography Awareness Week, Gil Grosvenor, the National Geographic Society Chairman of the Board, was asked about the importance of geography. In the interview, he provided a myriad of reasons, the most important being that an effective democracy requires sufficient knowledge of geography. I’ve included the ten-minute video interview below.
How to encourage an interest in geography
My parents sparked my interest in geography when I was eight by giving me a geographic encyclopedia as a birthday gift. There are many more ways in which parents can encourage their children to take an interest in geography. Here are five ideas from me and fellow bloggers:
- Aye, a fellow blogger, bought a shower curtain with a world map on it and teaches her daughter about the world during every bath.
- Andy Jarosz brings an inflatable globe with him on his travels to teach kids he meets about where he comes from.
- Travelpod has a cool online game that tests your knowledge of geography (as well as educates!). This is one of my favourites but there are many more online quizzes out there. An alternative is to purchase an interactive globe such as the LeapFrog Junior Explorer Globe. It’s good fun for the whole family.
- Mrs. Allen’s class is a brilliant example of how social media can be utilised to encourage interest in geography. Social media platforms like Twitter can play an important role in bringing the world into our classrooms. As an example: get out a big world map and a box of pins. Send a tweet asking your followers and their followers to introduce themselves (for the purpose of a little geography lesson). Request some information about where they live and maybe a photo of the most famous landmark in their hometowns. As the tweets pour in, get your child(ren) to pin the locations on the map and show them the photos of these places.
- Purchase a geographic encyclopedia that’s full of colourful illustrations and facts. Encourage your children to look up travel stories and photos from magazines or travel blogs to complement the information in the encyclopedia. Zoom into these places on Google Earth.
What can we do to nurture an interest in geography? Please share your ideas in the comments section.
30th Nov. 2010: A big thank you goes to National Geographic for being a huge inspiration to me… and for this wonderful comment via Twitter. 🙂