Despite the war in
Iraq and the daily reports of suicide bombers in Israel, studies
show that less than 15 percent of young U.S. citizens can locate
either country. (By the way, Canadians don't score much better!)
According to the National Geographic-Roper 2002 Global Geographic
Literacy Survey of more than 3,000 young people around the world,
the USA is geographically illiterate.
Roger Downs, head
of the geography department at Pennsylvania State University
and National Geographic geographer-in-residence from 1995-1996,
feels that U.S. schools have generally slighted geography. He
says that if geography is not a curriculum-tested subject, students
see it as not being valued. According to Downs, schools are
not totally to blame. Parents can make a difference by teaching
global awareness at home.
While driving your
child across the country, map in hand, or traveling around the
world might offer the best lesson, here are a few less expensive
teaching aids that work well. Most of these resources can be
found at your local parent-teacher store.
Laminated placemats, which are maps of the world, can be used
to teach geography during meal times.
Inflatable globes, which look rather like beach balls, can be
good to have around. One company called Hug-a-Planet makes a
wonderful pillow, which is actually a globe.
large map of the world can be taped onto your child's bedroom
wall. Countries can be identified while collecting stamps or
writing to pen
"world map" jigsaw puzzle can be an on-going family
Surfers of the internet
will appreciate some of the free games and activities we have
found online for teaching geography. You can find links to these
great sites here.
By teaching global
awareness and celebrating cultural diversity now, we can help
to promote a world of tolerance and peace for future generations.