The Importance of Geographic Literacy

Maps are still an important tool in teaching kids to be global citizens.
July 30, 2015, 11am PDT | Emily Calhoun
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"Being able to read a map, and to orient your brain as to where you are and which direction you need to head is a very important skill," writes Parenting blogger Sherri Kuhn. Yet her teenage daughter can make the longest trip of her driving career without knowing east from west.

While map-reading skills may seem irrelevant in the smart-phone world, geographic literacy is vital to understanding the world around us. National Geographic defines geographic literacy as "the ability to use geographic understanding and geographic reasoning to make far-reaching decisions." It is a critical knowledge base in many career fields, including planning. Hana Baba reports for KALW:

"Companies like Google and Yahoo hire GIS specialists. The military needs them for strategic planning. Commercial real estate planners hire them to decide where to build stores. Transportation departments, city and environmental planning departments - all are in need of geographers. But they’re hard to find, because most U.S. Schools don’t seriously teach geography."

There is hope for concerned parents like Kuhn. Efforts to include Geography funding in the reauthorization of the "No Child Left Behind Act" failed in the previous Congressional term, but appear to be back on the table with the currently re-branded "Every Child Achieves Act of 2015."

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Published on Monday, July 20, 2015 in The Washington Post - Blogs
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