Is Geography Still Relevant?

Teachers and students discuss the importance of geography despite its decline in classroom teaching

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Is Geography Still Relevant?

Poster in classroom 204 emphasizing the importance of geography.

Poster in classroom 204 emphasizing the importance of geography.

Heidi Scherer-Blake

Poster in classroom 204 emphasizing the importance of geography.

Heidi Scherer-Blake

Heidi Scherer-Blake

Poster in classroom 204 emphasizing the importance of geography.

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Many states do not require geography as a part of their educational curriculum anymore. In New Jersey, districts like Kinnelon, Butler, and Pompton Lakes do not teach geography as a curriculum requirement. While some teachers struggle to keep this important knowledge alive, most of the students do not seem to see the same value in it.

At Kinnelon High School, Erik Breshcer and Heather Pollak are among the only two teachers who keep geography in their classes. Brescher, who has been teaching here at Kinnelon for more than 16 years, teaches World History to freshman. He thinks that geography is extremely crucial for students to learn, especially from a historical perspective. 

“If you are going to teach about Europe, you better know where things are if you are having a conversation in class; otherwise, the story doesn’t make sense,” says Brescher.

Brescher also assumes that they stopped making geography a mandatory class because administrators who oversee curriculum requirements do not see the value in it as he and other history teachers do; therefore, they think of it as “old-school” and “unnecessary”.

“Nowadays, education is not about memorization and it’s not about repetition, so it’s more of a traditional way of looking at it””

— Erik Brescher

“Nowadays, education is not about memorization and it’s not about repetition, so it’s more of a traditional way of looking at it,” Brescher remarks.

Pollak, who has been teaching history for two years, teaches U.S. History and AP European history to sophomores and seniors. She also believes that geography is very important for students to learn, especially in a historical context. 

“It’s important to understand why people settled where they did and how they used the land around them to become thriving civilizations,” said Pollak.

Pollak concludes that because of modern technology, geography seems less important. For example, Google Maps and the internet make geography information more accessible to students.

“People think they do not need to memorize anything anymore because you can just look these things up online. But I think it is very important that we teach geography and continue teaching it to our students,” says Pollak.

Junior, Daniel Hong, and freshman, Joey Rowens, both agree that learning geography is irrelevant and pointless. 

“I feel like it’s just a lot of work memorizing and remembering where everything is located. Chances are, you are not going to be traveling all over the place; you are just going to settle down when you’re older,” said Hong.

Similarly, Rowens believes that geography is pointless because, “When you are learning history you are only learning historical facts so, it’s not necessary to know where the states are if you just need to know that Christopher Columbus kicked out the Native Americans.”

On the other hand, sophomore, Mckayla Coppla and junior, Andrew Noel both think that geography is really important, especially from a historical perspective. 

“I definitely think it’s important to know as a person for just throughout your life so you can navigate through things and know where you are,” remarked Coppla.

Likewise, Noel declared that geography was also important because it is related to almost everything. “It is important to know where stuff happens and why it happens. And since, it is our planet we need to know about it because we live here.”

In the end, though geography is not mandatory, and it is considered by some to be pointless,  it can still be used inside as well as outside the classroom to further students’ education of historical and modern-day events.

 

 

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