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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)

Embrace the world

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


The widespread use of computers and the Internet means we interact with people from around the world on a regular basis. Foreign nationals now design and produce many of the products we use. Many jobs that were handled almost exclusively by US citizens have moved to parts of the world where workers are highly educated and have lower salary expectations.


As a result, for our kids to succeed, it is imperative that they not only have advanced math, science and language arts skills, but also have a strong understanding of foreign cultures and languages.


With a lagging economy, getting our kids international exposure seems a bit ominous. Fortunately, it is possible to provide children with a great deal of international experience without leaving town.


First, encourage your child to study geography. Not only does this subject help students place countries in a global perspective, but also helps them understand how cultures take shape. It enables them to know how civilizations are born and helps them understand the interaction between nature and the people that inhabit that area.


Expose your child to a foreign language. Foreign language programs vary in structure and outcome. Language immersion programs, where more than 50% of the instruction is in the foreign language, provide the most cognitive benefit, create an environment where students learn to speak the foreign language without an accent and develop a strong appreciation for the nuances of the culture. Foreign language experience programs, classes that meet for an hour or less several times a week, do not to develop language proficiency, but do provide students with some exposure to foreign languages and cultures.


Take your child to foreign music, fine arts and theatrical events. The arts are a wonderful way to bring children a glimpse of what life is like in the other parts of the world.


Require your child to study history. According to the American Historical Association, “history offers a storehouse of information about how people and societies behave.” US and European history is very important. However, it is equally valuable to understand the histories of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, since many jobs now require an appreciation of cultures in those regions.


Consider hosting a foreign exchange student. These temporary family members provide an international experience without the expense of moving or traveling overseas.


If you are resourceful, there are many ways to give your child an international advantage without ever leaving home.