Our world is becoming increasingly globalized, making the study of history, civics and geography a major importance for students. Future leaders will need to have an understanding of geographical knowledge to analyze world events and make rational decisions about the global economy. Steven Foxworth — a dedicated social studies educator, with a Master of Education focused on Educational Leadership and Administration from Concordia University-Portland — believes that the study of geography is a critical subject that all students must understand in order to receive a full education. Steven Foxworth kindly took the time to discuss why geography is so important.
What is Geography?
The first person to use the word “geography” was Eratosthenes who lived from 276–194BC. History and geography are two complementary and interdependent subjects that are bound together by space and time, area and era, places and events — all of which are fundamentally inseparable. Steven Foxworth explains that geography, is the awareness of the physical features of earth and the knowledge of political boundaries and people. Below are only a few of the dozens of reasons why geography is a fundamentally important subject that we need to keep teaching our future leaders.
- Cross-Subject Integration
Through the study of geography, students are able to learn to read maps and interpret information at geographical scales, from local to global. They are then able to use data from maps, tables, graphs and texts to recognize patterns and solve problems. Students are then able to integrate various subjects into the study of geography, including science, social science and the humanities, all of which apply critical thinking to understanding and dealing with current issues of local, national, and international importance.
Steven Foxworth states that geography is fundamentally tied to history. Many of the wars that have happened throughout history have been tied to boundaries and geographical claims — from ancient network of trade routes known as the silk road to the Northwest passage. Learning geography allows you to identify and appreciate important clues of your nation’s history, including the influence of landforms and climate on land use, the rise and fall of civilizations, and migration patterns, among other things. Knowing the history of the landscape helps you understand the transformation processes that have taken place.
2. Sense of Global Understanding
Geography gives students a sense of understanding around place and citizenship. Geography allows us to locate important events that evaluate the relationship between geography and national or international policy. There is a close relationship between geography and economics on a local level as well, which include the location of natural resources, the shape of transportation networks, industrialization, and energy consumption. Trade patterns are fundamental elements of both geography and economics. Understanding how geography influences economics will provide future leaders with the global understanding needed to make informed, educated decisions.
3. Cultural Exposure
Most importantly, geography teaches children about different cultures. Being surrounded by water, or being in the middle of a desert, will drastically affect what a culture values and the way they live their daily lives. Learning about geography will allow children to gain an appreciation for other countries and cultures, creating a more inclusive and holistic view of the world.
Steven Foxworth suggests making geography exciting to engage and captivate your students on the subject matter. Getting a globe or map is a great start; encourage them to ask questions about different places and make a game of it. And, of course, there are dozens of incredible geography apps for kids that provide games, rewards and incentives to engage them with the subject.