Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Geography/History Guest Post


As many of you know I am very serious about seeing that Selena is educated in Geography and History. I feel it is within these subjects that we can expand a child’s world of learning for years to come. I asked Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom who use to be an elementary teacher to give us her point of view as to why these two subjects really do need our attention, and why we need to be teaching them to our children.

It is my hope that you will enjoy her post, and take to heart just what she is saying:

I’m so excited, this is my first ever guest post, and I’m very thankful to Debbie for asking me to do this.

She wanted to get the viewpoint of a former teacher on geography and history. I also am a bit of an oddity, in that I was an elementary education major with a minor in history. So, that tells you I’m a big history buff.

First, I want to say in the United States , we really give history and geography the short end of the stick. In elementary it’s hardly taught at all because they focus so much on math and reading because those are tested then. When I was teaching we allotted about 30 minutes each day for either Social Studies or science. The reality was we never really used the textbooks that we had because they weren’t all that great. They didn’t really go into all that much depth about the topics, and really just provided enough information to bore the kids over and over again.

The other thing we do to those subjects is we don’t have people who are interested in them teach the subject. Instead, they’re taught by coaches. Coaches are required to teach a couple of non-PE related classes, and they’re usually given history or geography because they’re not tested on and if the kids don’t learn what does it matter?

Well, I’ll tell you why it matters. Because you can look at history and see why you shouldn’t do things, or why you should.

Now, this is where it can also get political. But, you can look at what happens when you have a history of appeasement, and it never goes well. Before World War 2 most of Europe believed Adolf Hitler when he said he only wanted “X” and they gave it to him. Then suddenly he had conquered half of Europe . By the same token, if you have a group of terrorists who say they want you to just leave them alone, it doesn’t work to say “Okay, we’ll give you what you want,” instead they keep attacking and taking more.

Not only can you apply it to modern day political situations, but it helps explain how we are working now. Did you know that Texas didn’t have a female governor for almost 100 years? That’s because their first female governor kept within the letter of the law barely, and Texans remembered it so well they didn’t elect another one until the early 90s.

It also can give you insight into how you should act. There are so many great examples in history of the single person who stood up to what was wrong, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther, our Founding Fathers. That list could go on, but that’s what I thought of in 10 seconds. There are great inspirational stories.

So, why learn geography?

For one, because there are three important things to remember about history and real estate, “location, location, location.” Where it is effects so much of what is going on. That’s certainly true now, why are we so worried about a 100 mile piece of land called Israel ? Because it effects how the whole rest of that region goes, and that affects our oil prices.

Also, you look really stupid if you don’t have a token idea of where things are. This is how Jay Leno and the like get so many “person on the street” interviews, most people have no clue where people are. Think about the huge furor when Sarah Plain (in a comment I think was partially in jest) said “I can see Russia from my window,” and the big deal people made over that.

Now, apply it on a smaller scale and your child is interviewing at a major company and they don’t know where Portugal is. Why don’t they? Because it wasn’t taught on a test, so it wasn’t taught to them.

I freely admit I’m horrid at geography, it never hugely interested me, but I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to learn and know where things are and how cultures are different. And what makes each culture special, because they all are.


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  1. Great post! I have to admit that both geography and history were taught badly in my school. History was very political, and geography focused a bit too much on places and not enough on people. I will absolutely make sure that my daughter will not be one of those people who think Belarus is in Africa - I am getting this sometimes when I tell people where I am from.

  2. I'm horrid at geography too! That's why I'm so glad C is as interested as he is. I've learned right along with him over the past couple years. I had no idea where many of the states were, let alone all the countries we've studied since his interest formed. Now we both know so much more. It's a shame the schools don't focus on it more.

  3. I'll be curious to see what comments you get!

  4. Fabulous post!!!!!!!! Ticia you are SO right on this topic. I was nodding my head in agreement as I read the whole thing. A HUGE part of the reason I am doing the 50 states project with my kids is because I lack basic geography knowledge (so sad, I am a lawyer who can't point out states in my own country if they aren't labeled). The geography that is taught in school is never US Geography. I plan on teaching geography and history to my children all through their school years. I am learning so much by teaching them and we are all having fun with it.

  5. I LOVE these thoughts Ticia- very nicely put...

    (Oh, and I think you could run for governor of Texas- you'd definitely leave your "mark" on the office!)

  6. Well said - I agree. I always enjoy everyone's geography/history posts; I'm planning on joining in soon...maybe next week, if all goes well.

  7. I agree. I taught 4th grade b4 I stayed home and we did the same thing- about 30 mins of Sci/Social Studies. Geography was a 3 week "unit" at the beginning of the school year. We are becoming such a global society, though, that our kids are going to have to have a better understanding of geography and other cultures. So many of their interactions will be with people who are working in other countries.

  8. This is a great post. I had a history teacher in high school who taught me a way to draw the world in thirty seconds, and it has stuck with me. He had a simplified map of Europe, too, that I no longer remember - I need to figure out a way to do it so I can teach my own kids (and refresh my memory)!