My goal in teaching about the world is to have my students view the world with a different perspective, to see themselves as global citizens, understand complex organizations like UNICEF, and see how cultures are more the same than different. But, before we can get there they need to learn the basics.
It is amazing for students to understand topics like wealth and poverty or conflict, but if they can’t even locate these areas of the world on a map, what are we accomplishing? Map skills are like grammar and spelling for Language Arts. To write an award winning essay you need to learn the basics of writing first.
My students come to me with very little understanding of geography. I don’t mean that they accidentally label Jordan as Syria. I mean that they put Syria next to Canada. In other words, they have no clue and it is not their fault. Before middle school they learn very little about the world.
I would never expect adults to know every country in the world especially on a blank map, but students should come out of school with a basic understanding of world geography. Everyday students are bombarded with information from around the world without the tools to process the information or construct a mental schema of the events happening around the world.
In Geography Tools section on Globe to Go, you will find resources related to map skills including games and apps that can help students to understand geography without using a static map.