Recently, Judith Adler, a Canadian college professor made national news by publicly calling on her university to impose a mandatory geography placement test. Adler asserted that all incoming students should have basic geographic knowledge.
While reading up on the story, I found an incredibly interesting editorial, in which the author argues against Adler’s claims. The editorial is much more about the overall situation than geography education, but I found the following statement to be well worth a discussion:
“So what? Who actually remembers everything from grade school? I sure don’t. Is it important for us to be aware of the international world? Definitely. Is it important to know where these countries are on a map? Not really, unless you’re flying a plane.”
Now, this is not the main point or central thesis of the article. But I do think it’s an incredibly good example of the larger attitude surrounding the topic of geography education.
As educators, what do you think? Is geography education critically important? Or, as this author suggests, is it helpful but ultimately useless knowledge? (Unless, of course, you are flying a plane.)
I think geographic knowledge is more fruitful and productive when coupled with visits and explorations. After all, glaciers, lakes, volcanoes, waterfalls, oceans and deserts sound more appealing once seen or looked upon.