Geography Course on the Chopping Block in Oxnard?

A high school geography course requirement at the Oxnard Union High School District in California could be eliminated to make way for a new offering designed to help ninth-graders make the transition to high school, according to a recent article in the Ventura County Star.

“What we’re looking at is trying to develop a course for our freshmen to take that would provide what we call 21st-century skills,” said Assistant Superintendent Bill Dabbs. Those skills include creativity, collaboration, technology and a background in how to prepare for college and careers—”a lot of issues in terms of the transition from the eighth grade to the ninth grade and what we can do to increase graduation rates, increase college-going rates.”

According to the article, the district is in the early planning stages for any proposed curricular changes to make way for the “freshman skills” course, but geography supporters in the school are already rallying around the course.

In fact, geography educators argue that the subject teaches some of the most important 21st-century skills. Geography helps us better understand the global economy, complex international relations, and environmental challenges. Geography helps business leaders create and market new products and services. Geography gives people knowledge needed to use natural resources in a sustainable manner. Geography helps citizens make informed decisions about land use and transportation in their communities.

The list of benefits of geography knowledge and skills is long. Let’s work to make sure geography is a robust part of the curriculum for every student—and not on the chopping block any time a school needs to find space for a new course offering.

More on this topic:

The National Council for Geographic Education and the Partnership for 21st-Century Skills produced a 21st Century Skills Map for Geography.

–Tim Hill

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