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Where in the World Are Our Children?

by Edna Runnels Ranck
May/June 2012
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/where-in-the-world-are-our-children/5020528/

During the last century, primary school students studied geography every day. Today, educators are often unfamiliar with geography as an academic subject, limiting it to maps and demographics, topics of little interest to young children. Yet, in a National Geographic Education Foundation survey, “Young Americans Geographically Challenged” (ExchangeEveryDay, April 25, 2008), the message was that too many young adults appear unprepared for an increasingly global future. This message serves as an alert to early educators about the vital connection geography serves between ­people and the physical world that begins very early in life; early educators and children are among geography’s greatest resources!

Lucy Sprague Mitchell (1878-1967), an early 20th century early childhood
educator and founder of Bank Street College of Education, began writing about this connection in the 1920s. In 1934, she published Young Geographers: How They Explore the World and How They Map the World (1991) in which she said:

“. . . [Geography] is an analysis of the behavior and characteristics of the developing child, an exploration of the nature of thinking and of learning, and an important articulation of an approach to teaching in the field of geography” (Mitchell, 1991, [1934], xi).

Put simply, “Every environment is geographic” (p. 14). ...

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