Saturday, October 8, 2011

Long Term Geography Goals and Planning

In order to make our study meaningful, I tried to determine what my goals were in teaching geography, especially this young. Here's what I came up with for Kinde, in approximate order of importance:

1. To create a sense of place, both in where we live and in general of other places to understand when she hears about them

2. To understand how all political regions depend on each other, and specifically how it matters to our lives what happens far away (primarily what food/resources come from where)

3. To recognize and celebrate the differences in surroundings, lifestyle, and culture between us and other places, while maintaining the basic sameness of humanity and without viewing foreign as fundamentally "other"

4. To understand which and in what way cultural features are determined by the physical geography

5. To be able to label a map and know what political regions border each other

6. To lay the groundwork for a study of history

Some of this will be largely irrelevant this year as we will be focusing on the states of our own country, but I am leaving out some other geography works and books that may provoke conversations in which I will want to bear these goals in mind. Once we have moved beyond creating an immediate sense of place (our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our continent) I do want to focus more on places farther in distance and/or culture. My US-raised children are unlikely to be totally uninformed about, or have major prejudices against, Europe or Australia, for example. Africa and Asia are going to be of higher priority to cover and reflect the internal diversity of for us.

I will post details as we pursue our study of the states. My general geography plan for the long term, however, is this (and I retain my right to completely toss this and start over):

US states, approx 1 state/week
North America ~ 6 weeks
South America ~ 6 weeks
Africa ~10 weeks
Asia ~ 10 weeks
Middle East ~ 2 weeks
Europe ~ 8 weeks
Australia and Oceana ~ 3 weeks

Then we will start over with the states as Pre will be ready to participate fully and Kinde will be ready to delve deeper, do her own research on topics of interest and comparison, and remember more. None of this study will include history.

I should mention that in my fantasy world we will also be spending a year on the road in the middle school years traveling to all 48 continental states and then one or two years abroad experiencing the world. This is far enough away I can still completely convince myself it is not only possible but reasonable.

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