Monday, April 29, 2013

Thinking About Geography

A few weeks ago, some family members took a trip to Ireland. They posted on Facebook every day of the trip to tell us where they had been & where they were going. They posted pics & videos. Every place that was mentioned, every thing they said they saw, I looked up. I loved learning about all the cool stuff they were seeing. I loved looking at the pictures & videos. I loved reading about the places they visited & sights to see there. That trip inspired Dea to plan a trip to Ireland, a trip we aren't actually taking because we don't have the money & my husband won't get on a ship or plane. She is loving planning this trip, despite knowing the chances of ever taking it are slim to none.

Yet, Geography was one of my least favorite subjects in school. It is also one Dea's least favorite subjects. I'm pretty sure it is the only subject Jay doesn't enjoy. Why is it that none of us like Geography as a school subject, yet we love learning about other places? I figured it out. It is because Geography is always approached in an academic manner. It includes curriculum, text books, and boring facts. Do I really need to know the chief imports & exports of every country in the world? No. Do I really need to be able to name all the states & their capitals in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order? No. Do I care about the exact square footage of a country or its exact population? No.

Do I care what historical sites we could visit if we went there? Yes. Do I care about national parks, museums, theaters, art galleries, and zoos that we could see there? Yes. Do I care what kind of food we would be eating while there? Yes. Do I care how much things would cost there, what currency is used, and how the monetary unit compares to US$? Yes, Yes I do.

So, what if, instead of studying Geography from an academic, schoolish approach, we study it with a travelers approach? This is what I have decided to do. I will implement it this year. Instead of a boring state study, we'll research where in each state we would want to go, what we would want to see, etc. We will plan trips to each state. Also, instead of forcing him to limit it to the states, I'll let him choose wherever he wants for each trip. It may be a state, a country, a whole continent, multiple countries, or even a single city. I think I will also switch Dea's Geography to the same idea. That way, maybe we will all enjoy the subject a bit more.

Why did it take me so long to figure this out?

New plan for Geography:
Each year child chooses 6 places - cities, states, countries, islands, continents
Child then plans trip to each place
For first 2 years, Jay will include: sights to see (historical sites, monuments, parks, museums, zoos, libraries, galleries, theaters, etc.), festivals or events to enjoy, language spoken, currency, places to stay, and food to eat
For first 2 years, Jay will plan trips lasting 1 week
After first 2 years, will add travel, cost/expense, time of year, and climate, and trips will be planned for 3 weeks each (this is the version Dea will do)