Can you name all the states on a blank US map?
Can you name all the continents and countries on a blank world map?
Is it OK for your students? Can mine?
I doubt it.
Although I am an English teacher, I have been tempted once or twice to come up with a blank map and put this challenge in front of my students. Why?
Because knowing geography is not the strength of Americans.
When it comes to the lack of geography knowledge for our students today, there are three experiences that will always be engraved in my memory.
In my classroom in the US, I have had three disturbing experiences in the last eight years.
A few years ago, when I first got the Activboard interactive whiteboard system in the classroom, it first appeared.
This is the first technology installed in our school and local newspapers came to take pictures of me and my students.
I took out a map of the world from the resource and asked those students who stayed late to write their photos on paper, point to different places on the map and identify them.
I have an African American student who can't identify Africa on a world map.
As descendants of Irish and German ancestors, I would be ashamed if I could not put these countries on the map of the world.
I was shocked in English class and was prompted to pull down the world map more often.
Years have passed and I am shocked again by the lack of geography knowledge.
I often assign a weekly assignment article to my English class.
A few years ago, I wrote an article about the leaves --
Drive to New England to see the peeps of the beautiful autumn leaves.
When I started reading the student's written reply to the article, several of them mentioned the UK.
When I brought it up to discuss the issue, I clearly saw that a lot of people, many of my ninth grade students did not know that the article was talking about the New England region in the northeast of the United States.
I think it might not be too disturbing if we were in California.
But we're not in California right now.
The school I work for is less than ten minutes from the New York-Massachusetts border!
They actually live in New England, but they can't identify it in a news article.
When I had a global history test for a student a few weeks ago, my final exam was also the most recent.
This ninth grade student must find several places on the map of North America and South America.
She was stumped by Alaska.
When she stared blankly at me, I tried to prompt her by giving her the subject of the United States as a reference point.
I said, if this is the main body of the United States, where is Alaska?
"Well," she said, "either on top or below.
She had no idea at all.
I can come up with more examples if I go into memory, but I think my point is clear.
Looking back on these events, I can't help but ask if there are these gaps in my knowledge at that age.
Looking back, I don't think I did.
I remember geography is the topic we should learn and understand.
When I was in elementary school, we had to get to know all the states, their capitals and where they were on the map.
We even had to do in-depth research and write a national report in the fourth or fifth grades.
In our home, we played a computer game to learn about the United States and some facts about the United States.
In the middle school stage, the world has become the focus of attention.
I remember my sixth grade social studies teacher was a little crazy when we met all the continents and countries.
He used to put a water gun in the desk drawer and if we got it wrong on the map he would shoot us.
In high school, this is just an expectation of the information we already know.
Where is this expectation?
Why is geography important. . .
Why do I care?
I believe that it is essential for our young people to understand and understand the world around them.
Our world is shrinking because of technology.
Countries do not live in the bubble of isolationism;
We rely on the resources of the rest of the world.
As our world changes, the United States is declining and other countries are rising in many industries and skills.
In other words, we do not produce a lot of goods in this country. we rely on other countries, such as China, to produce the goods we consume.
Whether you like it or not, we are also the main military force in the world.
We will send our young soldiers to the far end of the Earth, and sometimes I wonder if they know where they are going when they receive overseas missions.
I want to know when their teacher talks about a hero soldier who has just returned from there or when they are asked to give a soldier who is still there
What can we do. . .
Together, teachers and parents can take steps to address this knowledge gap.
We should expect our young people to know the composition of the world they live in.
They should know where these places are and what they are known.
They should understand how the material composition of the world helps shape history.
However, if they can't even fill in the blank map, they will never reach that level of knowledge.
Here are some simple ideas that will allow you to start incorporating geography lessons into your child's daily life. 1.
When the Olympics come again, take some time to discuss the different countries that are participating.
Print a map of the world and determine where the country is when you look at different teams competing.
Track which countries win medals and count them on the map. 2.
Play online games.
If you type in a geography game in a Google search engine, you'll get a bunch of websites that let kids play learning games. (
See the side panel for a few links I found. )3. Do puzzles.
There are many Map puzzles on each age level.
Doing these puzzles over and over again will help children learn about the states and countries on the map. 4.
Read and Watch World News as a family.
When it comes to a country in the news, ask your children if they know where it is and why it is important.
If they don't know, take the map out and discuss it. 5.
When I was a kid, we went to a pizza shop where we used the pad on the map of Italy.
Surprisingly, the image of this map has been stuck in my mind all the time.
Enjoy a family dinner that focuses on different cultural eating traditions.
Let your child study the dishes of the country and decorate them to create the right cultural atmosphere.
Start with Poland and try my recipe for Polish beef sauce or Zrazy zawijane.
Our world is shrinking. we should cultivate global citizens.
Our young people should be curious about their country and the world.
We should encourage them to travel and see the wonderful world around them.
If they don't know where else exists, how will they be motivated to travel and learn?
I know that traveling around the world has taught me a lot about other people, including myself, and what it means to be an American.
I hope that all of our young people will have access to the knowledge they need to become productive global citizens who enjoy adventure in this great world.