Sunday, June 30, 2013

A road map for geography in US schools

Image above:The US Geography for Life initiative
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Charting a Path for Precollege Geography Education in the United States.

  “Geography is for life in every sense of that expression: lifelong, life-sustaining, and life-enhancing.”

The recent happenings in the US in regards to geography curriculum standards and the promotion of geography in schools has drawn my attention to the similarities with the processes happening there at the moment and what we in Australia have just worked through. The recently released National Geography Standards : Geography for Life work are certainly worth a look as we begin the implementation stage of the Australian Curriculum: Geography in Australia.  

To find out more about the standards go to either:
The background to these standards is that four organisations in the US have been working together to improve geography education in the United States for more than 30 years, and they continue to do so. These organisations—the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE), the American Geographical Society (AGS), and the National Geographic Society have recently published several landmark documents in an attempt to guide geography in schools into the 21st Century in the US

The first of these is a major revision to Geography for Life: National Geography Standards. Geography for Life lays out learning goals for geography in three grade bands: K–4 (ages 5–10), 5–8 (ages 10–14), and 9–12 (ages 14–18). These goals represent a consensus among geographers and geography educators of what geographically informed individuals should know and be able to do with their knowledge.

First published in 1994, Geography for Life has been thoroughly revised to bring it up-to-date with the state of geography and of research on education.

 "...when the first edition of Geography for Life was published, GIS only merited a mention in an appendix. In the second edition, GIS figures very prominently in the section of standards called "The Earth in Spatial Terms."

The Road Map Project has created recommendations for how to improve the effectiveness of geography education in three areas: instructional materials and professional development for teachers, assessment of student progress, and research on learning and teaching.

A road map, which lays out a path to the effective implementation of the learning objectives detailed in Geography for Life, was released in the form of three topically focused reports.

The concluding statements in a recent article from the US certainly resonated with me and echoes much of our thinking in regards to the growth of geography in Australia

"Achieving the goals of Geography for Life will require a greater public commitment to geography education and the allocation of more funding than we have seen before in the United States. By creating the road map, the geography education community has provided a strong justification for making that commitment and described how those resources can be used most effectively. The next step in this process is to bring these landmark documents to the attention of policy makers, funders, and educators who are in a position to act on their recommendations. To assist with this effort, contact any of the GENIP organizations."

The video of the Geoliteracy intititive of National Geographic is also worth a look at in association with the Geography for life initiative.

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