Geography promotes interdisciplinary thinking. Students who understand and apply geographic concepts enhance their critical thinking skills, and make connections more easily in all subject areas. Funding geography education is truly fundamental to good learning.
Why contact Congress now? Because this is a critical period when our representatives are considering whether to co-sponsor the Teaching Geography is Fundamental act, and Congress actually does pay attention to constituent contacts. This bill would finally make dedicated federal funding available for K-12 professional development in geography education. Nationwide, this bill would help state Alliances to continue funding your State Geography Bees, summer institutes, weekend workshops, geography festivals, the National Geographic Giant Traveling Map program, and much more.
Show us a problem American faces today – global terrorism – climate change – natural hazards – urban decay – industrial decline – and geography can provide critical insight into those issues. How will America be able to solve problems without a citizenry trained to think critically both nationally and globally? Geography plays a crucial role in the education of our young people and the future of our democracy.
And if it doesn’t happen in our classrooms, it won’t happen in our culture.
We may enjoy the late night comedians conducting street interviews with young Americans who say things like “Florida is bordered by the Pacific Ocean” or “Iraq is located in Southern Europe.” But even as we shake our heads because our children can’t find Afghanistan on the map, we can’t ignore our increasingly interconnected world: When a massive earthquake in Japan results in partial nuclear meltdown; when the Greek economy crumbles; when changing climates disrupt ecosystems around the world, the repercussions are felt here.
As we set priorities during difficult economic and fiscal times, funding for geography education is of strategically crucial importance. Geography’s study of peoples, places, and environments, and the connections among them is vital for navigating our rapidly changing and interconnected contemporary world. Geography offers the only subject in the school curriculum where our children can obtain the necessary knowledge and skills about this world in a systematic and comprehensive framework. Speak up now for geography education!
Geography is one of the four core content areas of social studies, for which NCLB requires a teacher to be “highly qualified.” But this content—along with history, civics, and economics—is omitted when the topics of funding and curriculum/instruction/assessment are raised. Until addressed more substantively by Congress and the DOE, the core contents of social studies will continue to be marginalized by districts, states, and by the only national assessment that purports to measure progress in our content areas, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Should Congress pass the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act, a bill that has been languishing in their hallowed halls since 2005, geographic literacy among K-12 students would be enhanced through grants for geography teacher training.
Think of all of the critical issues facing us in the 21st Century: Sustainable agriculture, population pressure, water, energy, habitat, climate, natural hazards, political instability. Geography grapples with every one of these issues. If geography is not taught in schools, key decision-makers from the local to the global level will be grappling with these complex problems without a geographic framework—a frightening scenario indeed. One way to ensure a brighter future for the planet and its people is to do your part in the Speak Up For Geography campaign!
The challenges in environment, economy, and security are enormous, and global, but play out on a local scale. Improving conditions requires understanding the myriad factors that influence here versus there. Making good decisions depends on a grasp of geographic knowledge and skill in thinking geographically. When we understand the patterns of what’s where and relationships between things here and there, we can make wise choices. Our legislators must hear from citizens who recognize that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all requires understanding our world.
Getting students interested not only in the environment but in geography as a whole is critical to our country, and if not done well will be detrimental to a student’s long term success and to society. Geography far surpasses finding countries and capitals on maps. It can be as simple as where you buy your house or as complex as how we plan for national disasters or defense…It is how we as individuals and as a groups make choices with immediate and long term impact.
We are often shocked and appalled when our students, much less our citizenry, lack basic geography knowledge and skills. Even though geography education is listed as one of 9 core disciplines in the No Child Left Behind legislation, it is the only discipline that has NEVER RECEIVED any direct federal funding in legislative history. It should come to no surprise that the products of our education system have little or no understanding of their world since geography education is underfunded. If the education of geography teachers is not funded at the same levels as the other 8 disciplines how can we reasonably expect our geography teachers to perform at the same level as other educators? How can we reasonably expect our students who are tomorrow’s citizens and democratic decision makers to examine local and world events and be able to make sound judgments? Our government could do a great service for our nation by funding geography education.
Your time to act is now!!! We need all citizens to answer the call to contact your Members of Congress. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (legislation for No Child Left Behind) is being reviewed and updated as we speak! Please contact your Members of Congress and explain to them how and why geography education must be supported and funded!
Geography opens the doors to all curriculum and, until teachers are comfortable with the subject, our students won’t be comfortable with it. Professional development in this area has to be funded, promoted…even demanded. Geography needs to be taught by experts in the field and students need to be exposed to this foundation of education that is terribly missing. It is not just a social science; it is a physical science as well, and it needs to be applied as such and taken seriously.
As a former high school geography teacher, I’ve seen firsthand the lack of geographic literacy in our schools. And it doesn’t stop at this generation, but rather is endemic to American society as a whole. In order to be globally-minded, economically competitive, and culturally-aware, Americans must learn geography. It’s not about memorizing maps, mountains, and capitals. It’s about understanding the vast and diverse landscapes of the world and interactions between cultures and societies, analyzing the relationship between humans and the environment, and understanding complex social and physical systems in order to develop solutions and innovations to address global problems. Our children today deserve the opportunity to learn about the world they live in- we must support geography in our schools so that students today can become the globally minded citizens of tomorrow.
we want similar move in Nigeria, where the National Commission of Colleges of Education in Nigeria and Federal Ministry of Education is trying to relegate the Geography to only two combination.
These comments are encouraging… and we all need to work hard to make sure that it is not just the geographers reading them, but legislators, policymakers, administrators, educators from other disciplines, and many others.
As the world becomes a smaller place and we connect with people around the world, we need to know about the places, events and people who we connect with. Students need to build this knowledge from elementary years through life. It doesn’t just happen without instruction, support and funding. It is essential as a 21st century begins to become reality. We are a global community creating the world of the future. Geography is a must as is civics, historical studies and knowledge. You need to understand where people are from, what the past interactions are and how to collaborate with others. This is without question necessary for our global survival.
As the world becomes a global village, the place of geography as a subject in schools in Nigeria is almost collapsing as other disciplines that should have been from it are becoming greater than it. The government through the National Council for Geographic Education we called on, to have geography in it right position in schools especially in our Primary and secondary schools.
The world as it is today, was not how nature made it. The question to ask ourselves is, what is happening to our natural place of abode? Are we forfeiting our physical environment for development? Watch out, since ‘when the last tree dies, the last man dies’
Geography is a nice course, so I encourage you to offer it in your feel of study. Ok
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