Promising Proctices: Learning Multiculturalism through the Study of Geography

By Tener, Morton | Multicultural Education, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

Promising Proctices: Learning Multiculturalism through the Study of Geography


Tener, Morton, Multicultural Education


One of the most crucial educational concerns today is addressing the needs for multicultural understanding. According to the National Council for the Social Studies, promoting the strength and value of cultural diversity in our classrooms should be a primary goal of our schools. The Council suggests that a social studies program should provide intensive study of groups to which students themselves belong and those to which they do not belong.

A very effective way to satisfy the above goal is through the study of geography. A knowledge of geography will aid students to be aware of factors that determine their destiny. In addition to a study of land mass it is also an investigation of human existence. The study of geography provides the opportunity to understand other cultures with respect to how they dress, the types of houses in which they live, the products they produce, the type of food they eat, their health, physical characteristics, languages spoken, ethnic distribution, etc.

Currently the knowledge of geography on the part of high school students is very limited. Geography as a course in the junior high and senior high school curriculum is a dinosaur. Because of this circumstance a definite educational vacuum exits. A geography course should be offered to all high school students either as a year course, a semester course, or integrated within a number of other social science courses.

It has been traditional that geography be taught as a textbook course. Most current educators agree that geographical related material should be presented in a stimulating manner using current issues and events. Students should think and work as geographers, which will help them understand the conflict with unlimited wants, limited material, and human resources. The study of geography also can include many other academic areas such as psychology, meteorology, oceanography, economics, graphic arts, etc.

Multicultural education via study of geography is also away to reduce prejudice, foster tolerance, and build a commitment to the American idealism of pluralism and democracy.

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