Our world is incredibly interconnected. Just two hundred years ago, the majority of people never ventured further than a day away from the place they were born. (It's probably even less than 200 years ago, but that seemed like a safe bet.) Now, I can send a message instantly anywhere in the world and I can be there in person by tomorrow.
Our economies are intertwined as well. A disaster that happens on the other side of the globe can have shock waves that reach us. Indeed, the presence of Russian troops in Crimea this weekend sent U.S. treasuries up significantly (I wish I had a video of me trying to explain that to the Herons today.)
Knowing about our world is crucial. We need to know where countries are an who their neighbors are. We need to know a bit about their history and the challenges they face today. With that context, kids can begin to connect to current events and understand them in a more nuanced way.
In the coming weeks, we'll begin to build a framework students can use to place new information about the world. We'll begin by reviewing the continents and oceans. Then we'll learn ten or so countries for each continent. I choose countries based on their political, historical or economic connections to the U.S. as well as those that have been in the news lately. I by no means believe that these are the only countries kids should know but one has to start somewhere.
I explained to the kids today that there are three levels of challenge they can accept on our Friday quiz:
- Level 1 - Memorize the location of countries I have assigned and be able to place each one on the map (I provide a list of the countries on the side of the map)
- Level 2 - Memorize as many extras as you can and write those on the map. These could be natural features such as rivers and seas or political features such as capitals or other countries that were not assigned.
- Level 3 - Ask for a blank map and sketch in the borders and names of all of the countries that were assigned.
I expect Level 1 from everyone. But geography is something that catches a lot of kids' fancies and I wanted to celebrate that mastering things can be a lot of fun.
Geography - writing the world. The concept is so appealing - being able to capture the world on paper. Of course, it's challenging. What do you include? How do you make things clear? I hope you'll enjoy learning along side your Heron.