Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
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Income Distribution: Poor, Rich, And Richest

Income Distribution: Poor, Rich, And Richest | Geography Education |
One of the focal points of the protests raging in Zuccotti Park and around the world is the sizable gap between the rich and everyone else. Yet as the below graphic shows, there are many different levels of wealth among even the richest of the rich.
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What Percent Are You?

What Percent Are You? | Geography Education |
See how your household income ranks in 344 zones across the country.


It isn't always about how much you make, but purchasing power, cost of living and local economic situations show us that one number doesn't tell the story of the national economy.  This interactive feature compares household incomes with how they would compare with other regions of the country.  

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India’s Boom Creates Openings for Untouchables

India’s Boom Creates Openings for Untouchables | Geography Education |
India’s era of economic growth has created something unthinkable a generation ago: business opportunities for members of India’s untouchable caste, the Dalits.


Critics of globalization often site that globalization has changed indigenous cultures around the world and mourn the 'impurities' in these societies.  Is all cultural change a bad thing?  This article shows one way that global capitalism has been helping (some of) the poorest of the poor within India.  How is globalization connected to cultural changes within any given society?  How is capitalism changing a formerly 'immobile' social structure?    

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Map of the Day: America's Poverty Belt

Map of the Day: America's Poverty Belt | Geography Education |
The poor in the U.S.are disproportionately clustered in a handful of southern states...


This image is worth an entire class period of economic geography...

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How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

" We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart..."

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Where the 1% Live

Where the 1% Live | Geography Education |
The richest Americans are gathered in a handful of metropolitan areas...


Spatial analysis shows that that 1% are not only economically clustered, but also geographically clustered in a handful of major metropolitan areas. 

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NYTimes: Wall Street Protest Shows Power of Place

NYTimes: Wall Street Protest Shows Power of Place | Geography Education |
Occupy Wall Street is a potent reminder of the ancient civic ideal of public space, and how far we have drifted from it in the modern era.


"Imagine Zuccotti Park, one protester told me, as a Venn diagram of characters representing disparate political and economic disenchantments. The park is where their grievances overlap. It’s literally common ground."  Posted in many sites, but since this article treats the important of place as its central point, it merits reposting.  This article also situates the current protests within a deeper historical context as so many movements have 'taken to the streets.'  

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America's Fertility Class Divide

America's Fertility Class Divide | Geography Education |
Since the average American woman has 2.1 children, you might think we aren't experiencing a national fertility crisis.


This article effectively conveys the global trend of lower fertility rates coinciding with higher rates of female education, wealth and development.  As a bonus, it shows that within a given country, fertility rates are not uniform, but vary between demographic classes. 

Seth Dixon's comment, September 28, 2011 10:42 AM
My pleasure...
Nathan Chasse's curator insight, January 24, 2014 2:24 PM

In the article, Lerner details why the United States' healthy birthrate of 2.1 children per woman is a deceiving number. While other first world nations like England and Germany are suffering from overall low birthrates, the United States is suffering due to the low birthrates in high-income brackets and high birthrates in low- income brackets. This discrepancy is reinforced by a lack of paid leave laws for new parents in the US, making having a child a burden for potential parents with aims of furthering their careers. Similarly, lower income women do not have enough access to publicly funded family planning programs.


This dichotomy in birthrates in the US will likely have a negative effect on the nation's economy going further. If most of the nation's children are being born into poor families the next generation of Americans are more likely to have worse access to education and be unable to obtain higher paying jobs than if the birthrate were more uniform across income brackets.

Kendra King's curator insight, January 28, 2015 7:48 PM

This article showed how when you average the birth rate in the United States, it obscures a larger issue between classes. According to the article, the birthing rate for “poor women” is more than that of the “wealthier” “professional” women by a fair amount. The poor will typically have a few children whereas the wealthier may now choose to have none.  Looking at numbers in this manner is important because the full picture obviously needs to be seen in order for more effective policy reform to ever happen. Yet, the idea of “choice” and type of reform needed is something the author and I differ greatly on.


The author did a poor job asserting upper class women’s lack of “choice” when it comes to the amount of children they have. The author said some “successful” women would rather get ahead in their career instead of have a family. Thus there is this added layer to the problem of choice outside the unplanned pregnancies of the “poor.” However, there are enough fluff pieces in magazines of late proclaiming women can have it all because “successful” women, as this article called them, typically do have the resources to balance family and work. What I think is more common through is that wealthier women (who want children) are now having children later because they are finishing their schooling and establishing their careers. While the women who don’t have kids, just plain make a choice not to have a child. Because honestly, more affluent people are actually able to plan and decide if they want kids. Whereas an unplanned pregnancy takes the deliberate action of planning out the equation all together. Therefore mentioning the obstacles some women have to plan around in conjunction with the actual issue of poverty just confuses the meaning of choice.


The article also touched upon the idea of better child care, which is obviously needed in the US, but not for the reasons mentioned in this article. As mentioned earlier, the more successful women have the money to pay for child care because they have the money/job to do so. Whereas the people with lower paying jobs can’t make ends meet partly due to the way maternity and child care in this country runs. So I think the country would need to change the system, not to cater to the upper class so they procreate more like the author implies, but to increase the mobility of the poor class. Doing this could decrease the amount of people growing up in poverty in order to raise the quality of life for some children. To me, this logic is a better reason to implement more affordable child care rather than the author’s classist concern that poor people are going to outnumber the amount of rich babies born in the US.  


Overall, I think this article makes a good point about showing the problem in terms of pregnancy rates being obscured. However, the manner in which the author discussed the “successful” classes “choice” and situation in relation to women in poverty aggravated me.    

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Drug war sparks exodus of affluent Mexicans

Drug war sparks exodus of affluent Mexicans | Geography Education |
Tens of thousands of well-off Mexicans have moved north of the border in a quiet exodus over the past few years, according to local officials, border experts and demographers.


The migration from Mexico to the USA has slowed tremendously in the 21st century, but due to the drug violence, the demographic profile of the migrants has changed significantly. 

Amy Marques's curator insight, February 12, 2014 1:22 PM

Despite Mexico making improvements to make Mexicans want to stay below the border. The drug trafficking violence does make people want to leave. Tens of thousands of well-off Mexicans, wealthy businessmen and average Mexicans are fleeing Mexico and have moved north of the border in a quiet exodus, and they're being warmly welcomed, unlike the much larger population of illegal immigrants. Mexicans are fleeing cartel wars that have left more than 37,000 Mexicans dead in just 4 years, 

Amanda Morgan's curator insight, September 29, 2014 2:12 PM

This article is interesting because we were used to seeing poorer immigrants from Mexico looking for work and a new way of life.  However, the more affluent communities are migrating North to the U.S. and legally because of the turmoil of the drug wars in their country.  It is disappointing to see that drugs, violence and murder are pushing away people from their own country

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 3, 2014 1:23 PM

For more affluent Mexicans the ability to migrate north is much easier than for the poor. They have the money and the skills to move into the United States. Also with the open lines of communication and ease of flux with business over the border make moving to the U.S. an excellent way to avoid being caught in the cross fire among drug cartels. For the poor however they are either forced to find work with the cartel or risk being an innocent bystander. It also makes you think about the terminology we use to describe Mexican immigrants, are they not refugees of this drug war?

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Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class | Geography Education |
Apple once bragged that its products were made in America. But it has since shifted its immense manufacturing work overseas, posing questions about what corporate America owes Americans.


The economics of globalization are at the core of this article, Apple just happens to be the case-study.  Why are iPhones not produced in the United States?  While it would be easy to simply cite cheap labor, it is more complicated than that.  Unfortunately for those hoping to rekindle American industry, the problems run deeper than that.  The ability to recruit sufficient highly-trained engineers, flexibility and speed in production are all factors that are decisively in China's corner at the moment.  Big picture, how are these economic factors reshaping the world we live in? 

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The distribution of wealth in America

The distribution of wealth in America | Geography Education |

More than 50 percent of ZIP Codes in the United States have an above average percentage of households living at or below the poverty line.  What are the spatial factors that lead to a concentration of wealth in particular places?  What economic, political and cultural factors play a role in the process of places amassing more wealth or of creating persistant poverty? 

Via Nicholas Goubert
Anhony DeSimone's curator insight, December 18, 2013 10:33 PM

The maps in this article indicate where the wealth is and is staying through out the United States. In some regions or areas of the United States have more wealth than others. The States or areas that are at the poverty level or sub par to the rich areas are higher in percentage. this occurs for many reasons, but one reason is evident that the wealth of a nation tends to stay in one area until another area becomes more wealthy.

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The Unaddressed Link Between Poverty and Education

The Unaddressed Link Between Poverty and Education | Geography Education |
Federal education policy seems blind to the relationship between poverty and student performance.


An interesting op-ed that focuses on the educational performance in the United States and poverty.  The authors feel that class is an obvious factor in educational performance, but that educational policies do not reflect the geographic factors that lead to uneven results. 

Mindy Tan's curator insight, February 22, 2014 9:44 AM

From this article, I can see that children that are poorer actually get lower results as compared to those that are well fed. I think it is because they dont have a good environment to study in, do not have well-educated parents to guide them along and teach them and most importantly, they are not well-fed and they do not have enough nutritions to help them think or concentrate better. I wonder why they would  put the 'rich' and 'poor' kids together? Putting them together will only result in the richer kids looking down on the poorer kids.

rlavinya's curator insight, February 23, 2014 8:26 AM

It saddens be that children can't be educated just cause of their lack of money.Poverty an educations plays a huge role in a child's life.WIthout education how are they gona lead in life?Why can't the poor be edcuated for free?

rlavinya's curator insight, February 24, 2014 8:02 AM

Education and poverty.In simple terms mostly if a child does not have enough money it'll affect their education. It saddens be that children can't be educated just cause of their lack of money.Poverty an educations plays a huge role in a child's life.WIthout education how are they gona lead in life?Why can't the poor be edcuated for free?What puzzles be the most is why isn't it free for those who cant afford it?

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Dangerous work

Dangerous work | Geography Education |
In Guatemala City, a place called "The Mine" can deliver both a means of survival and a grisly death. Every day, dozens of residents salvage a living by scouring the massive dump for scrap metal.


This thanksgiving I'd like to discuss one of my goals in teaching a geography course in the developed world. I hope to cultivate a sense of thanksgiving and gratitude for the many good things that are easy to take for granted. Balanced with that, I try to teach that economic disparities are NOT a function of moral, mental or physical superiority.  Therefore I try to instill a sense of thankfulness that does not become boastfulness or entitlement--hopefully that ethos will infuse this day's festivities. Happy Thanksgiving!

sdion's comment, January 30, 2012 2:23 PM
makes me thankful for the jobs i have. i also wonder what the health side effects are of working in these locations. are the workers experiencing shorter life spans or anything like that?
Cam E's curator insight, February 4, 2014 12:28 PM

As someone who has scoured dumps for things before, this sounds like no fun at all! You can find a lot of cool things that are left at dumps, but this doesn't even begin to compare to what they're facing at "The Mine". The smell and possible injuries must be overwhelming. If left untreated, a cut from anything in one of these places could prove fatal.

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, February 12, 2015 6:12 PM

Looking at this situation made me really sad, and made me realize that we take a lot for granted.  Here I am, sitting in a comfy chair, using my thousand dollar Macbook, and these people are risking their lives just to make $20.  They risk everything, in any weather, just for the possibility of finding something that they can sell to support their families, and these are the things no one thinks about.  This isn't to say that anyone's "bad situation" isn't bad for them personally, but this is unbelievable to me.  

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NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools

NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools | Geography Education |
Celia Dugger reports from the Kwamfundo School near Cape Town on South Africa's struggling public education system.

This poignant clip shows that South Africa may be in a post-apartheid era, but most certainly not a post-racial era as schools are as deeply divided as ever. 

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 19, 2015 1:14 PM

It's difficult to overcome something as oppressive as colonial rule and apartheid. South Africa's schools are still trying do so in a post-apartheid era. Judging from this video, the students have the desire to learn and better themselves to become what the country needs in order to succeed but the teachers and education system itself lacks the desire. I loved seeing the that some of the students actually step up and take charge of the class to help them learn. It's difficult to educate youth if the teachers have no desire to do so and you can't expect the students to move on to college and become a doctor or a chemist if they are unable to pass their science class. It amazed me that with all the struggles these students were going through in their personal lives, they were upbeat and ready and willing to learn.


Also, the singing impressed. Not because they were good, but I imagined trying to get a class of 15 year old students in America that were not taking a specifically music class to sing. I could only imagine the groans and refusal to participate from them!

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 6:28 PM

Watching this video makes me glad that I live where I do, it also makes me feel bad for those that are not as lucky as myself and other students of colleges and universities. these students in South Africa's schools are not getting a proper education, the teachers sometimes do not show up, so in some cases the students will assume position and teach those who do not understand the material. It is also sad to know that there are so many out there with great ambitions for their lives and because of their poor education and understanding of subjects, they are failing and might not be able to reach their goals for life. It is good to see though there is a teacher that gets the kids engaged everyday  as a morning warm up to sing. 

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:06 PM

what i dont understand is how south africa can be on such an upward trend which motivation and nationalism but the rest of africa just refuses to get on the same track. the success of south africa and their constantly improving country should be motivation and a model for the rest of the continent.

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Everyone Is 'Middle Class,' Right?

Everyone Is 'Middle Class,' Right? | Geography Education |
A new study finds that ignorance of one's relative standing in the income distribution is not unique to Americans, and looks at the policy consequences of such misperceptions.


The terms high-class and low-class have such strong negative connotations that everyone seeks to be perceived as middle class.  What income bracket are you in?  The research says it'll probably be a surprise.  Data for income bracket is the USA:

Lisa Fonseca's comment, October 17, 2011 10:59 PM
I do not believe everyone is considered to be middle class. I think that is a false statement. I truly believe in the phrase "rich get richer, poor get poorer" I consider myself and my family working middle class. Our income isn't incredibly high but it is average. We have money for food, clothing, bill paying and essentials but also have the extra to travel, and spoil ourselves. That is where the difference lies between middle, low, and high class incomes. The lower class may only make money to support their selves and family with food. As for the high class they have money to do anything they want. Pay bills, buy the essentials. Although they get to have dinner out every night, buy the fancy cars and clothes. The low class may live a stressful like as the high class live a glorious life.
Seth Dixon's comment, October 17, 2011 11:14 PM
Everyone most definitely is not a part of the middle class and Catherine Rampell of the NY Times does not believe that (as I interpret her) but is using that hyperbolic statement to make the point that more people SELF IDENTIFY with the middle class than can actually be there. I think she agrees with your "rich get richer" since her main point is that this self-identification with the middle class obscures the rising social inequity in America. I agree too. Thanks for your comments!
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The Geography of Educational Performance

The Geography of Educational Performance | Geography Education |
A new report from the Department of Education puts all the latest educational data at your fingertips.


Partly geography education, but this link is more the geography of education within the United States.  The top 10 states are in green, with the bottom 10 in red.  What factors play a role in the distribution patterns visible?   

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Mother Jones magazine: Economic inequality in the USA

Mother Jones magazine: Economic inequality in the USA | Geography Education |
A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist...


This is an interesting graphic highlighting the strong economic imbalance in the United States, and that the imbalance is much greater than most citizens (and presumably students) believe it to be. 

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'Where Children Sleep'

'Where Children Sleep' | Geography Education |
James Mollison wanted to portray children's diverse worlds. What better way to do so than to photograph their bedrooms?


Pictures with the children and the space they inhabit, creates a more personal touch to geographic context for students.  It builds what I call "geographic empathy," which builds on commonalities, instead of just reinforcing stereotypes.   

Ellen Van Daele's curator insight, March 22, 2015 4:06 PM

This article is very interesting as it shows so much cultural difference by just taking pictures of a child's bedroom. The pictures portray the family's wealth, religion, technological advancements, and parenting style. 


When you look at the difference between some of the pictures it is horrible. Some of the children have an abundance of toys, while others don't even have their own room or have to sleep on the ground. It is also interesting to see how some pictures portray the person's lifestyle. Some have a very minimalist room with little luxuries, which can be for religious reasons or personal style.