Saturday, January 24, 2004

Teaching Geography in the Elementary School.

Teaching Geography in the Elementary School. I think geography is an important subject that we don't teach all that well in primary grades. However, the state tests don't really quiz the students on this subject so I doubt it well get covered much better in the near future.

From the site:

Although geography has long been a part of the elementary curriculum, today there is a renewed interest in teaching the subject. Particularly significant is the large public response to the essay "Geographic Ignorance: Time for a Turnaround" written in 1985 by Gilbert Grosvenor, President of the National Geographic Society. Also, Geographic Awareness Week was instituted by an act of Congress in 1987 to draw attention to the need to improve geographic literacy in the United States. Furthermore, a recent survey of states and territories reports that 93 percent of their schools will increase emphasis on geography at the elementary level within the next five years (CCSSO 1988). This ERIC Digest discusses (1) reasons for teaching geography in elementary schools, (2) how geography is taught, (3) major deficiencies in the teaching and learning of geography, and (4) how to improve geographic education in elementary schools.

WHY SHOULD GEOGRAPHY BE TAUGHT IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?

Geography helps one understand the physical and cultural characteristics of the world. Geographic education provides the values, knowledge, concepts, and skills to better understand ourselves, our relationship to the earth, and our interdependence with other peoples of the world. The locational organization scheme of geography provides a framework for learning the physical, social, and historical phenomena studied in both elementary and secondary schools.

Formal instruction in the primary and elementary grades is effective in increasing geographic knowledge and skills (Buggey & Kracht 1986). Elementary students have the abilities to learn geographic skills in observation, classification, organization, and map reading and interpretation. Elementary school students also have measurable attitudes concerning people in other nations and are interested in and able to learn about people in other areas of the world (Mitsakos 1976; Pike & Barrows 1976). These attitudes often develop, however, without accurate knowledge of the locations and characteristics of places and the people who live in them. There is a great need to increase the quantity and quality of geographic education in elementary schools to overcome ignorance of geography.

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