Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over
Curated by Seth Dixon
My 10 year-old daughter was looking in our atlas a while back (yes, she is my daughter) and in the encyclopedic entry of each country she started noticing that literacy rates were included. She started asking about which regions had higher and lower literacy rates. This became a teaching moment about the power of the map--I explained that all this data can be more easily accessed and seen on a map and this interactive map is what we discovered. We need to help student find the maps and data to answer their questions (and we need to make sure that they are curious enough to ask questions about the way the world works).
"It’s a good time to reflect on what truly inspires us. What gives us, as individuals, our own sense of independence? And how can we apply that sense of joyful independence to help us engage more actively and participate more readily in the world—to make it a better place, even? Cultivating a better geographical and cultural appreciation for the world, in the next generation as well as in our own, is a pretty good place to start."
Untrammeled oases beckon, once-avoided destinations become must-sees, and familiar cities offer new reasons to visit.
Most geographers have more than a little bit of wanderlust. Maybe we don't all have the pocketbook for it, but so many people have the desire to explore, travel and see parts of the world that feel as if they are mythical. For students that have the curiosity, it our mission as educators to cultivate that and help them frame the world into a geographic perspective. I've always felt that window-seat flyers are have the seed of a geographer embedded within them...let's make sure those seeds can grow.
We asked a range of people, from writers and chefs to musicians and photographers, to share one experience from the last year that truly inspired them – something that, in no uncertain terms, reminded them why they love the world. Madly. Here's what they told us.
Most geographers have more than a little bit of wanderlust. This BBC article is filled with images, quotes and insights into places all around the globe that fill me will a sense of awe and wonder. For students that have the curiosity, it our mission as educators to cultivate that and help them frame information about the world into a geographic perspective. I've always felt that window-seat flyers are have the seed of a geographer embedded within them...let's make sure those seeds can grow.
"MyLifeElsewhere allows you to compare your home country with different countries around the world. Ever wonder what your life would be like if you were born somewhere else?"
Did you know that with 1/30th the territory of the United States, Norway still has over 25% more coastline? I didn't either until I compared Norway to the United States using My Life Elsewhere. This site is designed allow United States students to imagine how their lives might be different if they were born in a different part of the world. Students would probably die 21 years earlier if they were born in Liberia and 11 times more likely to have died in infancy. Students would be 43.8% less likely to grow up and be unemployed and have 36.3% less babies if they were born in Taiwan. This side-by-side format is a great way to help students help make these statistics real and meaningful. One major drawback: this site only allows users to compare a country to the United States. If you prefer to have students compare, say Cuba to the United Arab Emirates, I would recommend that you try If It Where My Home.
"This map shows Human Development Index (HDI) for 169 countries in the World. The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide. The HDI sets a minimum and a maximum for each dimension, called goalposts, and then shows where each country stands in relation to these goalposts, expressed as a value between 0 and 1, where greater is better. The Human Development Index (HDI) measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: health, knowledge and standard of living."
"The position [that belief in God is essential to morality] is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East. At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in God is essential to morality. People in richer nations tend to place less emphasis on the need to believe in God to have good values than people in poorer countries do."
An important part of the geography of religion is how the non-religious are treated and perceived around the world. More secular countries tend to be more developed, affluent and wealthy; generally speaking these are the countries that do not believe that morality and a belief in God have to be linked together. What do you think? What cultural perspectives shape your thinking?
Is the American obsession with individual freedom really such a great idea? What other cultures know about how to make good choices.
This article show three distinct cultural approaches to the concept of choice, showing how they shape people and communities and cultural systems. The three models discussed are:
This TED talk from Malcolm Gladwell is also an interesting exploration into the world of choice and options.
"The transition from childhood to adulthood -- the 'coming of age' of boys who become young men and girls who become young women -- is a significant stepping stone in everyone’s life. But the age at which this happens, and how a child celebrates their rite of passage into adolescence, depends entirely on where they live and what culture they grow up in. Looking back, we'll never forget the majesty that was prom, or the excitement of hitting the dance floor at our friends' co-ed Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties, and why should we? Embarassing or amazing, they were pivotal moments in our lives that deserve remembering. On that note, here are thirteen of it the world’s most diverse coming of age traditions."
Take a look at the first day of school celebrations around the world!
Access to education is one of the great indicators of development and political stability--educators wish nothing but the best education possible for the next generation, but the experience is quite variable across the globe. As many places have recently started school again, this article is a reminder that this practice is experienced differently around the world.
In this image-filled talk, Yann Arthus-Bertrand displays his three most recent projects on humanity and our habitat -- stunning aerial photographs in his series "The Earth From Above," personal interviews from around the globe featured in his web project "6 billion Others," and his soon-to-be-released movie, "Home," which documents human impact on the environment through breathtaking video.
I've linked galleries of the artistic, aerial photography of Yann Arthus-Bertrand several times before. In this Ted Talk, you can hear what motivates his artistic vision and the global perspectives that he wants to bring to the fore. You can also watch the 90-minute video 'Home' that he discusses in the talk here.
"With modern technology, a global exchange of goods and ideas can happen at the click of a button. But what about 2,000 years ago? Shannon Harris Castelo unfolds the history of the 5,000-mile Silk Road, a network of multiple routes that used the common language of commerce to connect the world's major settlements, thread by thread."
This TED-ED lesson was produced in part by an AP Human Geography teacher and the strands of geographic thought in this video are evident. More geographers should make their own TED ED lessons; thanks for blazing the trail Shannon!
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Where did your T-Shirt come from? Where did the food your parents bought at the grocery store come from? What's the origin of the components in your cell phone? These questions all allude to what geographers call a commodity chain analysis. Analyzing where the consumer goods that we use every day came from can make global issues hit a little closer to home and reinforce concepts such as globalization. The website Follow the Things is a great resource for teaching students about commodity chains and mapping out your own personal geographies.
"The world divided into 5 regions, each with the population of China."
This map from Amazing Maps (a great follow on Twitter) is a clever way to divide the world into 5 equal population regions. In many world regional courses, discussion of Asia might be 1/4 of the course content, while the "NATO and the Americas region" might be about half of the class. Also, think about "the World News" that you see on TV: how much coverage do each of these 5 regions receive? Why is our news coverage unevenly distributed?
This map would go together nicely with this one to show the demographic importance of South and East Asia.
"Many of us have heard the stories of how our parents or grandparents had to walk miles in the snow to get to school. Perhaps some of these tales were a tad embellished, but we got the point. A lot of American kids have the luxury of being driven in a warm car or bus to a good school nearby. This is not the case for the children in this gallery.
The photos you are about to see are snapshots of the treacherous trips kids around the world take each day to get an education. Considering there are currently 61 million children worldwide who are not receiving an education—the majority of which are girls—these walks are seen as being well worth the risk.
In the above photo, students in Indonesia hold tight while crossing a collapsed bridge to get to school in Banten village on January 19, 2012. Flooding from the Ciberang river broke a pillar supporting the suspension bridge, which was built in 2001."
Here, go around the world in less than 180 minutes with TEDGlobal talks.
Chiwa - Mchinji, Malawi Shot over a period of 18 months, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti's project Toy Stories compiles photos of children from around the world with their prized possesions—their toys.
How are the lives of these children different from those in your neighborhood? How are their lives the same?
I've seen other "Where the Hell is Matt" videos and this recent one is building on that tradition. These videos show some fantastic international icons and people around the world. Simultaneously, this video show the unique cultural elements seen around the world while showing the essential beauty of our common humanity. Who wouldn't want to go to all the places that Matt has been?
"This video shows the basic concept of HDI (Human Development Index), by using four different examples (Japan, Mexico, India and Angola)."
Coordinating a meeting across time zones can be confusion logistical task and one that people rarely can do off the top of their head or consulting some resources. It is, however, fundamentally a geographic task. Our friends at the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute put together this collection of 5 maps (and this time zone converter) to help global collaboration.