As more and more people become geographically uneducated, there have been calls to reintegrate the subject back into school curricula. Is it worth it?
by Prithvi Prem
In a recent National Geographic study about US adults’ knowledge about Geography, 2,000 Americans were surveyed about various Geography and foreign policy questions. While the majority of those surveyed agreed that Geography should be taught in middle schools (70%) and high school (80%), less than 30% of participants said that they learned Geography in school. Americans have been known for knowing close to nothing about Geography, and there have not been many attempts to integrate the subject into schools’ curriculum.
This is where the trilemma is presented. Should Geography be taught in high school, or not? Or is there perhaps a way to integrate it into curriculums without taking the place of other subjects?
POV 1: Geography should be taught at schools.
Geography should be taught in schools because it is one of the most important subjects to know in life. One of the most integral aspects of life is knowing directions and finding your way around. That is literally what Geography is. Especially in the age we live in now with Google Maps and Apple Paps, people are beginning to rely more and more on these platforms rather than their own memory. This shift can prove to be very unsafe, especially if we encounter situations where apps cannot be used. How will these people find their way?
Geography is a skill that allows learners to better understand the world around them. It is also a valuable subject to know which can help address the challenges of the 21st century. Students today are coming of age amid a conflux of crises: a global pandemic, an ongoing climate crisis, and deep political partisanship. With Geography, students can gain a better understanding of the world around them and use examples of other countries to help address these issues. The fate of the planet will be in our hands soon enough. How can people be in charge of this without knowing anything about what the planet contains? Geography can help them learn about the world, different cultures, and unique ideas coming from all corners.
POV 2: Geography should not be taught at schools.
Geography should not be taught in schools, as it is just not as important as other subjects currently being taught. Subjects like Math, Biology, and English are far more crucial to general education as opposed to Geography. Integrating the subject into schools would just be a major waste of money, which could be allocated to other subjects.
Geography is also a subject which very few people are interested in. Even if it was a class at schools, the people taking it would probably already have a good knowledge of the subject. Those who know the least geographical information are those who feel that the subject is unnecessary and not worth taking. Due to this, there is no point in integrating Geography into school curriculums.
POV 3: Geography should be integrated into another existing subject.
Rather than making Geography an individual subject or completely removing it from curriculums, schools should integrate it into another existing subject. Geography could be very useful in classes like History as it can provide great context for students. As long as students learn the basic facts such as countries, capitals, and culture, they should gain the benefits of learning the content. Therefore, integrating it into the curriculum would provide benefits while also not taking away from the original subject. Furthermore, integrating Geography into an already existing subject could also be much more cost-efficient, as you would not need to build new classrooms and hire new teachers. History teachers are generally knowledgeable regarding Geography and should easily be able to teach the subject to their students. It is effectively a win-win situation for the school and students.
In summary, Geography is a subject which must be taught in schools as more and more people are becoming unaware of the world around them. Implementing it as a separate subject into schools could be very expensive, which is why schools would be better off integrating it into existing subjects like History.
What do you think about Geography’s role in school education?