Saturday, December 26, 2015

The world but not as we know it!

Image above: The if it were my home website to show global difference.

Related links to Spatialworlds
GeogSplace (a teaching blog for Year 12 geography)
Geogaction (geography professional learning blog)
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

The geographical fascination with difference

The nature and extent of global difference is an important aspect of Year 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the Australian Curriculum: Geography. For example in Year 6 the curriculum states that students:

"... learn about the diversity of peoples and cultures around the world, the indigenous peoples of other countries, the diversity of countries across the world and within the Asia region. They reflect on cultural differences and similarities ..."

Further country comparisons are implicit in the Year 7 Place and liveability,Year 8 Changing nations, Year 9 Geographies of interconnections  and Year 10 Human wellbeing units of the the geography curriculum. In essence, the curriculum supports the view that it is important for students to learn that it is the 'lottery of birth' that is responsible for much of what we have, how we think and who we are - for students to realise that if they were not born in the country they were, what would their life be like? Would they be the same person or would they be the person they are presently cautious of and possibly unempathetic to? The empathy of the plight of refugees and migrants is a pertinent example of poor geographical knowledge and understanding about the conditions in the places where these people have come from.

The If It Were My Home website is described 'as a gateway to understanding life outside of the world' students know and inhabit every day. The site has a country comparison tool to compare living conditions in the users country to those of another. Based on data from the CIA Factbook, the site describes comparisons on factors such as birth rate, life expectancy, healthcare, wealth, disease, resources, employment, class and incarceration. 

As shown in the map above, the site also provides visualisations of spatial comparisons i.e. how large is the land area of Azerbaijan compared to Australia.

As well as maps and information on countries, the site provides students with a visualisation tool to help them understand the impact of disasters - the Pakistan Flood and BP Oil Spill are currently featured. This component of the site provides visualisations of the comparative size of the disasters to any country chosen i.e. the size of the BP oil spill to the land area of Australia - again a useful spatial visualisation.

The power of maps to show difference

Whilst on about the power of geography to develop the understanding of difference from place to place, I thought the following ESRI webpage would be worth considering. In fact, maps are the tools that geographers normally use to visualise data to see and analyse differences across space. The site is called '6 things that modern maps do'  and it is certainly an interesting discussion on the power of maps to develop understanding of differences between places.

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