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Geography a force for broadening the mind, says Michael Palin

The Guardian – Jamie Grierson

“The comedian and television presenter Michael Palin has praised the study of geography as a force for broadening the mind as fresh figures show a spike in take-up for the subject at schools in England. The man behind travel shows including Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole and Full Circle says studying geography is key to understanding the world and “helping us to realise that we all share the same planet”. Palin’s comments come as A-level and GCSE geography entries in England are on the rise. GCSE entries increased by 36% and A-level entries by 21% between 2012 and 2017.” (more)

Students See A New World With More Accurate Maps

KQED News Mind/Shift – Colin Dwyer

“Students throughout Boston are getting a radically different view of the world, one laminated 24-by-36-inch sheet of paper at a time. Beginning last Thursday, Boston Public Schools administrators have been sending social studies teachers in the second, seventh and 11th grades new maps for their classrooms — depictions that more accurately portray the sizes of Earth’s continents. When many people picture a map of the world, what they’re probably thinking of is a Mercator projection, a representation that despite its apparent distortions has been around more than 400 years. It’s that map that hangs in most classrooms throughout the U.S., including those in Boston.”(more)

How to teach … the Himalayas

The Guardian – Zofia Niemtus

“There’s something about mountains, isn’t there? They’re massive, yes, but there’s more to it than that: they remind us small humans of our place in geological processes that happened over millions of years. Or maybe it is mainly the massiveness. Either way, mountains are great. And some of the greatest of them can be found in the Himalayas, the 1,500-mile mountain range that has nine of the world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest. As well as vital reflections on climate change and previously undiscovered species, the Himalayas also offer opportunities for learning across the curriculum. Here’s how you can scale new heights with your classes.”(more)

A long history runs through it

China Daily Africa- Andrew Moody

“Heilongjiang River is the backdrop for author’s exploration of the Sino-Russian relationship over the centuries.
Dominic Ziegler believes major geographical features can be as responsible as people for shaping history.
This is one of the themes of his new book, Black Dragon River, about the 4,500-kilometer Heilonjiang River, which forms a large part of the border between Russia and China.
He believes it had a major role in defining the relationship between two neighbors that are culturally different.
“Before I began research on the book I hadn’t been aware just how seminal the river and its terrain was in shaping the relationship between these two countries. Without being too deterministic about it, it was a case of how geography shaped geopolitics.”
Ziegler, who was speaking at the central London offices of The Economist, where he is Asia editor, says despite being the ninth largest river in the world, few pay it much attention.”(more)

Walk-in Globe Gives Students Perspective

U.S. News & World Report – Cassidy Swanson

“Seventh-grade students at John W. Wynn Middle School got a unique view of their vast world on Friday – on a scale that fit inside their school gymnasium. The students participated in Project EarthView, a geography education program hosted by Bridgewater State University and the Center for the Advancement of STEM Education. The program features a hand-painted, accurate scale, inflatable globe – 22 feet in diameter, depicting oceans, continents and topography. Participants are able to go inside the globe for a unique look at the entire earth, in its correct proportions, all at once…”To become responsible citizens, we really need to understand our place in the world,” said Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan, professor of geography…”(more)

Report Highlights Challenges to Teaching Geography in the U.S.

Education World – Nicole Gorman

“A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) analyzes why most eighth grade students in the U.S. fall below proficient in geography. According to the report, “[a]bout three-quarters of eighth grade students—the only grade for which trend data are available—were not ‘proficient’ in geography in 2014, according to GAO’s analysis of nationally representative data from the Department of Education (Education).” The GAO attempted to figure out why geography instruction in the U.S. is lacking and interviewed officials and teachers in several states to do so.”(more)