SED 741 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer

Blending History and Geography - how do we teach geopolitically?


Maps are fun - as we can see in this fantastic array of maps at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/08/12/40-maps-that-explain-the-world/?lines and http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/01/13/40-more-maps-that-explain-the-world/?hpid=z4.

These maps are not only fun, but they are instructive - they make it clear that learning geography and teaching geography is no longer JUST learning about where places are in the world. Today, geography must incorporate an understanding of how geography influences the cultural, religious, and political realities of nations, regions, and continents. Consider these definitions:

Thus, teaching geography in our classrooms requires us to teach students:

  1. to learn to read maps by thinking about how and why maps shape our perceptions of geography and our world; and
  2. to think about geography in geopolitical terms.

Map of the United States


What we need to know about maps:
  1. Maps can be fun.
  2. Everyone can make a map.
  3. All maps are selective and represent a point of view.
  4. Every map is a view of the globe - to show one view accurately, you must distort another.
  5. It is important to ask questions about maps.
  6. Maps should be analyzed in geopolitical terms.

 Questions to Think About When Reading Maps
  1. For what specific purposes do you think the map was created?
  2. Who do you think would use this map?
  3. What is accurately reflected in this map?
  4. What is inaccurately reflected in this map?
  5. What story is told in this map?
  6. What cultural assumptions or biases are reflected on the map?
  7. What is at the center of the map?
  8. What is left in the margins of the map?
  9. What is entirely left off the map?
  10. Does the map emphasize the needs and goals of a certain class of people?
  11. Are quality of life issues reflected in the map?
  12. How would you change the map to better fit your needs and values?


Expanding the Boundaries of Our World: A Geopolitical Discussion
Teacher Resources