The Monograph (la version anglaise)
Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators
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Issue Vol. 66, No. 4
Publication Date: March, 2016
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Author(s): Hughes, Shawn
Over the years OAGEE has had many followers that want updates, resources, and news about geographic education in Ontario. Through our conferences, institutes, publications,and social media, OAGEE volunteers have been working hard to increase the level of interest and engagement amongst these followers in an effort to build a community of Geographic Educators. These “geo-evangelists” are active OAGEE community members that:
• participate in our awesome OAGEE Fall and Spring Conferences;
• strive to improve, update and advance geographic education in Canada;
• identify themselves as geographic educators.
Following the Toronto Star’s History education article on January 23, 2016 there has been a tremendous amount of concern expressed by this community of geographic educators re: the fate of geographic education in Ontario. Required Grade 10 history and civics classes earn a higher
provincial rating than others such as Geography. http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2016/01/23/ontario-lauded-for-high-school-historycurriculum.html
As a result, the following letter was sent to Canadian Geographic Education (Can Geo Education), the educational committee of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), to step up their efforts towards increasing the emphasis on Geography within the school system and
public awareness of the importance of geographic literacy.
“Many of our teachers fear that Geography is becoming a dying subject in our province. Geography is often lost within the Social Studies curriculum throughout elementary school. Very little time is devoted to Geography, especially in light of the emphasis on Numeracy and Literacy assessments, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses. When Geography is offered as part of an interdisciplinary Social Studies, it is at significant risk of being an afterthought within the content of the course.
“At the secondary (high school) level, the only compulsory Geography course occurs in the first year (Grade 9). Elective Geography courses are offered at the senior grades, but there is stiff competition with other courses and a large emphasis placed on STEM.
“Due to the multidisciplinary nature of Geography, many of the topics traditionally associated with this subject are slowly being dispersed to other courses (e.g. Environmental Sciences and History).
“Through my correspondence with Geographic Alliances in Arizona, Colorado, and California, it appears that we share a common challenge throughout much of North America: the focus on literacy, numeracy, and STEM is diminishing geographic education. Many States have Geography standards for every grade level, but there are no required courses in the subject.
“Teachers at the K-6 level are challenged to incorporate Geography into their social studies lessons, but many teachers themselves have had little training in the subject and lack the resources to support development of spatial reasoning and understanding of the more complex aspects of place.
“Like OAGEE, many geographic alliances throughout the United States have been fighting for geographic education for over 30 years. The Geographic Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) was formed by a consortium of geographic associations committed to improving the status and quality of Geography education in the United States. “Its mission is outreach on behalf of Geography to educators and policy makers across the United States”.
“Our educators feel that it is very important that student be exposed to Geography throughout their elementary and secondary school careers. Alexander von Humboldt stated “the most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.“ Teachers are charged with the huge task of preparing students to venture out into the real world. Unfortunately, teaching students about that world has gradually become less a priority nationwide. Teaching spatial skills and global citizenship has been deemed unimportant.
“OAGEE is open to partnering with Can Geo Education in advocating for improved geographic literacy, and for Geography as a distinct and valued core discipline in the K to 12 curriculum across Canada. OAGEE is more than willing to play an active role in the recently announced revision of the Canadian National Standards for Geography. In addition, OAGEE will continue to endorse and promote the St. John’s Declaration, and its goal “to improve, update and advance geographic education” in Canada, and is willing to assist Can Geo Education in any way it can to make this a reality.
“A small community of supportive “geo-evangelists” are the backbone of OAGEE. Several of our members that stand ready to work with Can Geo Education have been nominated for both the OAGEE Award of Distinction and RCGS College of Fellows due to their dedication to great geographic education and informing Canadians about this country.”
This is a crucial time for Geography in Ontario. You can make a difference! We hope to see you at OAGEE’s amazing current and relevant professional development opportunities including:
• 2016 OAGEE Spring Conference @ Giant’s Rib in Hamilton on May 6th
• 2016 OAGEE Fall Conference @ Trinity College School in Port Hope on Nov. 11th & 12th
Author(s): Abbotts, Torie
Making Geography Relevant - Hooking Students for Life
GeoGeek thought(s): I can not shake a conversation I recently had with my hairdresser.
Hairdresser: My family’s New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier.
Me: That’s great! Are you thinking of eating less meat? Eating less meat is good for your health and the environment.
Hairdresser: How does eating less meat help the environment?
Me: Well, I have been teaching my students about the link between raising livestock and global warming.
Hairdresser: But I thought you were a Geography teacher? You know, maps and stuff.
I can not decide which part of that conversation haunts me more; the fact that the only content my hairdresser remembers learning in Geography is mapping, or her genuine lack of understanding of the impacts of the food we eat.
Mapping is the essential core of what it means to be a geographer, and we love it! But I feel that there is a shift that all Geography educators need to make in order to survive the current changes in education and societal values. Students today are pressured into choosing subjects that will lead to healthy salaries and salary caps. To remain relevant as an essential course, geographers need to highlight the content and learning objectives of our courses as important. As geographers we need to connect student learning to the skills they will need in their future careers.
Liveable Communities Unit Culminating Assignment
E1 - The Sustainability of Human Systems: analyse issues relating to the sustainability of human systems in Canada.
E2 - Impacts of Urban Growth: analyse impacts of urban growth in Canada.
A1 - Geographic Inquiry: use the geographic inquiry process and the concepts of geographic thinking when investigating issues relating to Canadian Geography.
E1.5 – Propose courses of action that would make a community more sustainable.
E2.3 – Describe strategies that urban planners use to control urban sprawl.
A1.7 – Communicate their ideas, arguments, and conclusions using various formats and styles, as appropriate for the audience and purpose.
A1.8 – Use accepted forms of documentation to acknowledge different types of sources.
A1.9 – Use appropriate terminology when communicating the results of their investigations.
Author(s): Ellis, Amanda
Amanda Ellis, Sutton District High School, York Region District School Board
A1. Geographic Inquiry: use the geographic inquiry process and the concepts of geographic thinking when investigating issues relating to Canadian geography.
A2. Developing Transferable Skills: apply in everyday contexts skills, including spatial technology skills, developed through the investigation of Canadian geography, and identify some careers in which a background in geography might be an asset.
B1. The Physical Environment and Human Activities: analyse various interactions between physical processes, phenomena,
and events and human activities in Canada.
B2. Interrelationships between Physical Systems, Processes, and Events: analyse characteristics of various physical
processes, phenomena, and events affecting Canada and their interrelationship with global physical systems.
B3. The Characteristics of Canada’s Natural Environment: describe various characteristics of the natural environment and the spatial distribution of physical features in Canada, and explain the role of physical processes, phenomena, and events in shaping them.
The activity is divided into two parts that are described below. Following the instructions is a set of cue cards and
recording table for the results of the Part A: Scavenger Hunt and the Part B: Regions and the Inquiry Process.
Author(s): Farley, Mike
Mike Farley, Geography Teacher, University of Toronto Schools
Game URL: http://goo.gl/9lAcla (recommended for Gr. 9-12 students)
“In Climate Challenge, the player takes on the fictional role of the President of the European Nations, choosing policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 2000 to 2100. The player has to balance emissions reductions with making sure there is enough electricity, water, and food for the people, whilst also managing their spending and trying to remain popular with the electorate.” (Gamesfor Change website). For more Geography-related impact games and accompanying student activities go to: www.changegamer.ca
Author(s): Lowry, Mark
In conjunction with The Toronto Pan Am Games
Mark Lowry, Past President, OAGEE; Geography, Social Studies, and Geo-Spatial Technologies Consultant
During the first week of July, the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), a division of Environment Canada, cosponsored a summer institute for Grade 7-12 Geography and Science teachers. The other sponsors of this institute were the Ontario Association for Geographic and Environmental Education (OAGEE), The Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), and ESRI Canada. This institute was run during the Pan American Games in Toronto in order to make the most use of the air quality monitoring and data collection that had been designed specifically for this event.
Author(s): Chapman, Deborah
Submitted by Deborah Chapman, Communications Manager, Royal Canadian Geographical Society
Nancy Gillis came to Canadian Geographic Education’s attention through her involvement with the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge where she won the Energy Educator of the Year Award for Central Canada this year.
Author(s): Hughes, Shawn
Shawn Hughes, President OAGEE, Head of Geography, Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB
Based on your amazing feedback, we are thrilled that everyone enjoyed the 2015 OAGEE Fall Conference at the University of Toronto Schools (UTS). Mike Farley, 2015 Conference Coordinator, and his team of hardworking OAGEE volunteers (see above) did a superb job.Teachers were able to capitalize on the tremendous amount of time and effort put forth by our conference team at a fantastic
facility and location.
Author(s): Wilkie, Randy
Randy Wilkie, Geograf/x design, OAGEE Regional Councillor, Region 12
Major storm developing! Disaster happening!! Aftermath!!! What can teachers and students observe, describe, and analyze? Go to NOAA’s JetStream - Online School for Weather (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/synoptic/ll_analyze_slp.htm) to give students a basic understanding of all weather factors including winds, temperatures, and pressure in order to understand a weather map and to draw conclusions.
Follow-up thoughts and new perspectives on my recent book review of Road Trip Rwanda: A Journey into the Heart of Africa by Will Ferguson book review (The Monograph, Vol. 66, Issue 3, Fall, 2015, page 31)
Regular readers of The Monograph will be aware of my recent book review on Road Trip Rwanda: A Journey into the Heart of Africa by Will Ferguson. It is an interesting and informative insight into a country with a troubled past, promising future and one which Canadians have had some links.
The reason for this follow-up is based on media coverage about events in Rwanda over the past year. The “Road Trip” book was published in 2015, based on Will Ferguson’s visit to Rwanda in 2013/14. I must admit that I was/am most impressed with Ferguson’s book as he chronicled his observations on how this devastated country has seemingly picked itself up by its bootstraps and made great economic and social strides
over the past 20 years toward healing the divisions between the two main groups in the country - the Hutus and Tutsi.
Unfortunately recent events in Rwanda, if press reports are accurate, would suggest that not all is well in this African nation. Why should readers pause to reflect upon this evolving situation? As educators, we should all be making a concerted effort to stay informed regarding
significant geo-political world events such that we can accurately inform our students of these evolving events and their significance in the world in general and to Canada in particular.
In his book, Ferguson chronicles the role of the current government under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, in bringing about the “renaissance” of Rwanda in the 20+ years since the genocide in 1993. As a result of this transformation, the nation of Rwanda has prospered. This is partly a function of Rwanda being very successful in obtaining massive amounts of foreign aid - currently about $1 billion dollars from the west, including more than $500 million from Canada. The picture being presented to the world is of a great success story.
Now however, there seems to be emerging some cracks in this image. Ferguson reflects on the leadership of Kagame
and wondered if he would keep his promise to step down as leader when his second. term as leader was completed in 2015. Two terms are the maximum which the new Rwandan constitution allowed. Nevertheless, over the past several months, there has been increasing press coverage
regarding the fact that Kagame was planning to change the constitution and continue on in the role of leader of this nation - an unfortunate pattern which has plagued much of post colonial Africa since WWII. At the end of 2015, the president orchestrated a national referendum which extended his term.
Two recent reports have caught my attention. The first in the Globe and Mail (Jan.8/16) titled “As books detail totalitarian rule in Rwanda,
benefactors start to have second thoughts”, see page A3. Columnist Geoffrey York, reporting from Johannesberg South Africa, reports on two new books which cast some light on what is currently going on in Rwanda. The first is Bad News: Last Journalist in a Dictatorship by Anjan Sundaram. The second is by Canadian Susan Thompson titled Whispering Truth to Power. I have not had the opportunity to read either book, however the information in York’s Globe and Mail article suggests that both books reveal a much darker side to events in this country. As a result, a number of western governments are beginning to rethink their aid support for the current Rwandan government. There was even a
suggestion comparing events in Rwanda to those we often hear about from North Korea - not a comparison that many countries would aspire to!!
The second media report which is worth listening to is from CBC Radio The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti. This item was broadcast on Monday January 25, 2016 and is titled Rwandan president “extremely effective at crushing dissent” says author. This is an interview with Anjan Sundaram the author of the book mentioned above in the Globe and Mail article. This interview is well worth listening to.
At the end of the day, I always come back to the questions that Geography educators ask themselves - What is Where? Why There? and Why Care? In this case, my focus is primarily on the Why Care? part of the equation.
Rwanda, over the past two decades, has been presented to the world a a great “success story”, following the 1993 genocide. As Geographers, Rwanda has/had the basis of being a great case study in terms of global economic development. The danger we all face is researching, gathering information, and then freezing everything at a point in time without being vigilant to the reality that changes do happen. I think that if, 5 years ago, I was using Rwanda as a case study in “development” in a Grade 12 World Issues course, or even a Grade 9 Canada course dealing with foreign aid, I would probably have painted a glowing picture of Rwanda. I might still want to use this remarkable country as a case study in
development, however, to be current and accurate, I would need to update my information. In this day and age of electronic media, including the Internet, it is much easier for us to stay current and not continue teaching information from sources which may be out of date and not necessarily reflecting the reality of what is actually going on today. This is the challenge and opportunity for any educator as we strive to help make our students informed critical thinkers.
Review by Dickson Mansfield, retired geography educator
Editor’s Note: Teachers might also take note of the increasing level of violence in neighbouring Burundi. This situation has many eerie parallels to that in Rwanda. In this case, it is President Nkurunziza’s ultimately successful quest for a third term that has sparked protests in April of last year. I think the headline from The Guardian (UK) newspaper says it all:
Burundi: ‘all alarm signals flashing red’ warns UN as reports of atrocities mount.
Allegations of gang rape, torture and mass graves [in Burundi] prompt warning from UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein that law and order is close to collapse.
The Geography of Hope – A Tour of the World We Need
Random House Canada. 2008
ISBN 978-0679314660, 480pp, Paperback, $C34.95
The Geography of Hope is all about sustainability. Chris Turner is an excellent writer who tours the world examining all major aspects of sustainability including energy, housing, efficient communities, transport, design, and more!
Chris says “I began with a wind farm not far from home. Strangely beautiful, inspiring in its way, but in the end just a small auxiliary power plant woven into a grid of much larger, completely unsustainable ones, on the edge of a prairie being mined for every last nonrenewable drop of fossil fuel it had to give. It was a start, but for all I knew a false one. My goal was not merely to find a duplicate version of our current
social order, minus the greenhouse gas emissions, but to find the right fragments to assemble into a whole new way of life. Surely there were places of greater ambition and execution. I wanted to see the best, the state of the art, to discover microcosmic isles of sustainability to fill my map with enough detail to chart a course in a new direction, away from the hopeless waters dead ahead and towards more sustainable shores.”
Chris examines the problems, efforts, successes and failures that have contributed to major issues and concerns in our world today. He provides great background for teachers about the start of the sustainability efforts that followed the ‘Our Common Future’ document in 1987. His book is
a must for teachers who spend significant teaching time on sustainable education.
Where did problems begin? What has been done to improve sustainability? What is the world we all need, desperately, urgently, now! For example, Turner looks at fossil fuels and alternatives. He examines Samso, Denmark with its less than zero greenhouse emissions and goes on to examine where are we with hydrogen, nuclear fusion, and other energy efficient communities? He looks at Reynolds’ ‘earthship’ in Taos, New Mexico as prototypes for completely sustainable housing, and eventually to communities that have changed dying suburban neighborhoods and malls into more sustainable, less cardependent, alive communities.
He looks at the world’s green boom and examines examples of the good, bad, and the ugly of efforts. He discusses ecovillages, New Urbanism, and the ideas and vision of sustainability in significant detail and with examples all over the globe. He ends with a ‘sustainable city on a hill’. The hope is there. We are not starting from zero. Sustainability must be seen as a way to guide our actions and lives.
All geography departments can benefit from having and using this thoughtful book.
Reviewed by Lew French, OAGEE Treasurer