Geography Ed for a Flat World: Schools Are Only Beginning to Prepare Students for a Changing Landscape
Schachter, Ron, District Administration
Geography isn't what it used to be. Nowadays, that subject is often buried--and therefore inadequately covered--in a social studies curriculum itself under siege because of the extended commitment in schools to reading and math.
But geographical knowledge also isn't what it used to be. It's become essential to understanding a brave new world of international economic and political developments, as well as preparing for a host of jobs that did not even exist 20 years ago. The release of revised national standards for geography later this year--the first revision since these standards were introduced in 1994--will emphasize the changing geographical landscape.
Over the past decade, meanwhile, business and educational leaders have retooled their approaches to deal with rapidly emerging economies and societies, from China and India to Mexico and Brazil. Even Facebook has realized the importance of knowing geography, having added a world map to users' pages so they can include all the places they have visited in their lives.
In a 2004 report, the latest report available, the U.S. Department of Labor declared that geotechnology--the combination of geography with an ever-expanding array of new high-tech jobs--represents one of the labor megatrends for the 21st century. These changing realities are posing a problem--and an opportunity--for American schools and their students, who by most measures lag behind the rest of the world in geographical knowledge and skills.
The Geography Problem
In a 2002 geographic literacy survey of 18- to 24-year-olds in nine countries by the National Geographic Society, a nonprofit that has long promoted geographic literacy, the United States ranked eighth--just ahead of Mexico and behind the likes of Canada, Japan, Great Britain and Italy. In 2006, a follow-up questionnaire aimed just at Americans found that 88 percent could not find Afghanistan on a map of Asia, 70 percent could not locate North Korea, and 50 percent had no …
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Publication information: Article title: Geography Ed for a Flat World: Schools Are Only Beginning to Prepare Students for a Changing Landscape. Contributors: Schachter, Ron - Author. Magazine title: District Administration. Volume: 48. Issue: 6 Publication date: June 2012. Page number: 28+. © 2007 Professional Media Group LLC. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.