Monday, July 14, 2008

Geography Class

I loved elementary school when it was time for Geography. The teacher would pull a wide window shade sized page down and I can still hear the sound it would make. Those big maps hanging above the blackboard contained the mysteries of the continents for me. Where mountain ranges began and ended, the plains states, the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes, where the Mississippi reaches the Gulf of Mexico, which states touched the Pacific, the Atlantic, I memorized these locals and more. At the beginning of the year when text books were passed out I would flip through the Geography book looking for interesting information. In short, this was a topic I enjoyed.

My grammar school didn't have much of a library. It was just a small room with books and magazines. I don't remember a single book from that library...maybe it was because I always went straight for the National Geographic magazines. Oh how I loved that magazine. When my boys were old enough to read I subscribed to NG for them. They never appreciated it as much as me. I read it from cover to cover and never threw away an issue. (I still have a row of them out in the garage) My desk draw contains no less than 35 maps, taken from the pages of those magazines. Maps of the universe, charting the stars in the heavens, a map of the Indians of the Southwest, maps of Europe and Asia and a map of a Soviet Union that doesn't exist anymore.

As an adult I have been surprised to find out how many people don't care about geography, couldn't locate Papua, New Guinea or even New Zealand on a map if they were paid to do it, don't have a working idea of each state's approximate location and don't think being able to read a map is a vital life skill. I think it is sad.

I think it is sad that children today are taught more about recycling than about the world they are told they need to save.....but that is another hobby horse and it is late and I don't have time to ride that one.

Just my opinion, what's yours?


  1. I never never cared much for geography throughout school but certainly developed an interest as an adult. We have several years of NG for our boys too. My older son's walls are covered with similar maps.

    I too heard the sound of the school map as it appeared from its roller and locked into place. Funny how those things reappear when called upon.

    I'll bet you drew interesting maps for school. ;)

  2. Oh, Stevie, you've struck on one of my peeves, kind of. Kids (as a whole) do not have any awareness of the world. The only thing that matters is that they are entertained. DVD players in the car. Whatever happened to looking out the window and seeing where you are and where you've been, and all of that? It is up to parents to instill a love of learning in their children. It is up to the parents to instill interest and curiosity. If a child has this, he'll be learning outside of the classroom. If he doesn't have this curiosity, the best teacher in the world will not help him learn.

    *steps off of soapbox*

  3. Children,need to be taught to wake up and smell the roses.The aprons are wonderful.My daughter would love these.She is an apron nut.I, myself love the old Sewing machine.Its so grand.I also love the old patterns.Hugs Marie Antionette

  4. Social studies and geography were always very intriguing to me. I especially loved projects that involved drawing maps. Me, too, I loved those pull down roller maps at school! And to this day I have a fondness for vintage maps and globes.

  5. This is so true! It seems I had more of a "core cirriculum" in elementary school, with more emphasis on geography and history as seprate subjects. Now it seems to be lumped together as "social studies" and watered down.

    We had hung a large world map over my son's bed when he was a toddler and by age three he could point out evey country, mountain range, river, etc when asked. He also loved NG and I have an entire bookcase full of them stored away.

    My daughter didn't take as much interest in maps, but we still encouraged her and bought map puzzles and she loved the old computer gane "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" which helped teach her geography.

    So I guess education can always be enriched by more home intervention and input.

    Since my son works in the field of educational research and policy we have some lively discussions over some of these points.

  6. Yes, I totally agree!

    Our Taylor used to love to hold the Atlas when we went on trips and follow along as we drove.

    I loved Geography Class, too. I especially loved it when we got to get out our crayons or colored pencils and color in a map worksheet. Fun, fun!

  7. I am not surprised at your interest in Geography. I somehow knew that you too are possessed of a curiousity to know, "where is it?". We keep a massive atlas in the living room, close at hand, and I couldn't begin to tell you how often it's used. When a place name comes up, and either I or my daughter are unfamiliar with it or can't quite place it, the atlas is opened there and then. I also enjoy looking at historical maps, and noting how boundaries and place names have changed over the years.

  8. Does anyone know how to make a salt map, because I don't! And I always wanted someone to teach me how to make these. I loved the topography of mountains and valleys and the slash of rivers cutting the terrain in two. And when it was finished I wanted to be able to paint all the parts.

  9. Oh my...I am right there with you on this subject. Not so long ago I had a discussion on this with family and friends. I can remember some of the same things about Geography class and that was quite a long while ago. It taught me to have a connection with other peoples of the world. I have the website for National Geographic in my favorite place...Interesting post :)

  10. I think the older we get, the more we enjoy history and geography. I too, love to look at maps...old ones....etc. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed it.

  11. Hi Marie Antoinette! Welcome to my blog! Thanks for the compliments on my aprons. I made another one last night. I have 5 granddaughters so I still have one more to make.

    Hi Hilary, it's funny how memory works isn't it? Funny the memories that pop randomly into your consciousness.

    Debby, I never thought about DVD players in the car like that...I've just thought of it from a parent's point of view....ah, blessed silence...on long drives. Very good point.

    Willow, I used to have a 4 foot framed map of Alabama which showed all the counties. After a number of years I gave it away while trying to clean out some of my junk...I regret it.

    Pat, I remember Carmen Sandiago....remember the Animaniacs? Remember the song with all the countries of the world. I loved those cartoons.

    Betsy, when I was taking World History in college we had to fill in ancient maps as part of our tests...I ate that up. Yep, I'm still a big kid.

    Lavinia, I missed out when they changed the name of Burma to Myanmar. For a long time I wondered what happened. The world was off it's axis, but I couldn't figure out why! I needed you and your atlas.

    Deedee, I'm with you, it is the people of the world that interest me the most...we can be so different but underneath we all still have the same needs and desires.

    Strider I agree, as I get older I am more interested in knowing things, learning is not the chore it was when I was young.

  12. This is a neat post! I have to agree with you that it is more hip and trendy to be 'green' then to know where things are on this planet. It's sad. If more of the celebrities got as excited about education and the lack of it, as they get about being 'green' it would be a better place. Most of them are so self-absorbed it's sad.


I'm glad you stopped by and I look forward to your comments. As Dr. Fraser Crane would say, "Hello, I'm listening."