—Geography: from the Greek geographia, meaning “writing or describing the world.”
Most Americans travel to school or work in private vehicles, or perhaps by public transit, safely enclosed and protected from the elements. We live, work, shop, and learn in climate-controlled buildings. Modern, comfortable, middle-class living has separated from our natural environment.
With this reality in mind, Daniel Edelson, National Geographic’s Vice President for Education, writes in ArcNews that today’s students need some “old-fashioned geographia” that gets them outside to observe and explore their natural environment.
Before students can understand the world, they need to observe it. To observe it, they need to experience it, of course, but they also need to notice it. It’s not just about looking; it’s about seeing. And teachers have known forever that the best way to get students to be good observers is to engage them in documentation and description.
One such initiative Edelson cites is Project BudBurst, which encourages people to observe, record, and share seasonal changes in plants, a kind of research sometimes called citizen science or community geography.
Yes, geography helps us answer questions, solve problems, and understand the world, Edelson writes. But we must not neglect observing the world around us.
How do you practice geographia?