The Centennia Historical Atlas shows how European and Middle Eastern borders (not just the Crimean peninsula) changed from the year 1000 to a few years ago. I don’t think it’s completely accurate, but it’s still very cool.
Petticoat Government is hosting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling, which has a geography theme.
From Tumblir, here’s an Australian’s attempt to label the 50 states.
“As Congress moves towards opening new paths for immigrants, it should find a way to restore the foundation of American citizenship — the self-confident teaching of American history in our nation’s schools, writes Christina Hoff Sommers in The American.
Once, immigrant and native-born children learned about America in school, “and came to view themselves as part of an extraordinary culture of liberty,” she writes. That civic mission has been neglected.
The latest Department of Education national history assessment (2010) shows that only 12 percent of American high school seniors have a firm grasp of U.S. history. More than half (55 percent) scored below the “Basic” achievement level. A 2012 Roper survey of college graduates found widespread ignorance about U.S. history and basic functions of government: only 17 percent of those polled, for example, could identify famous words from the Gettysburg Address or knew the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Noting a 2009 study that found that 39 percent of Americans could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment, civil libertarian Greg Lukianoff has described us as a nation in the process of “unlearning liberty.”
We are perilously close to testing Thomas Jefferson’s famous admonition: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
The National Assessment of Educational Progress exams in civics, U.S. history, and geography have been indefinitely postponed for fourth and twelfth graders, reports Heartland. The Obama administration blames a $6.8 million sequestration budget cut. The three exams will be replaced by a new test on Technology and Engineering Literacy.
“Without these tests, advocates for a richer civic education will not have any kind of test to use as leverage to get more civic education in the classrooms,” said John Hale, associate director at the Center for Civic Education.
Now that New York has raised its definition of proficiency in exams for grades three through eight, it’s time to fix the high school Regents exams, writes Marc Epstein in City Journal. The Regents have been dumbed down, charges Epstein, a high school history teacher in New York City.
The Global History and Geography Regents requires no knowledge or geography, he writes.
One handout shows a man sitting in a pedicab while the driver tries to walk the bicycle pulling the passenger through about three or four feet of water. The question asks: “What was one problem that people in the Varanasi region of India faced once the 1983 summer monsoons arrived, based on this National Geographic photograph and its caption?” If you couldn’t figure it out just by looking at the picture, the caption informs you that there was flooding and sewage, along with floating animal carcasses.
. . . A second part of the test, known as the thematic essay, asks the student to write about change and ideas, selecting two famous people—from a list including Nelson Mandela, Karl Marx, Galileo, and Mikhail Gorbachev—and explaining a specific idea the individuals developed, the historical circumstances surrounding its development, and how it influenced a group, a nation, or a region. After two years of global history, it’s safe to say that even your marginal students can find something to say about Marx and Communism or Mandela and apartheid.
The U.S. History and Government exam asked students to “write about the positive and negative effects of technology on the American society and economy,” a “rehashed question” from an old test designed for special-needs students or those who couldn’t pass the Regents exam, Epstein writes.
The document-based questions on the History exam were just as risible. A cartoon from the National Temperance Almanac depicts a saloonkeeper laying bricks around the entrance to his saloon—with the bricks labeled “wrecked lives,” ruined fortunes,” “lost virtue,” and “ruined characters.” The question then asks the student to state two effects that alcohol had on American society.
Students can pass by answering only one of two essay questions if they do well enough on the multiple-choice and document-based questions.
Proficient should mean college ready, backed up by automatic admission to a state university, writes Core Knowledge’s Robert Pondiscio on Answer Sheet.
For low-income families with high aspirations but little educational experience, all they know is what the state and public schools tell them. And they’ve been misled. Seeing their children through the K-12 pipeline with a clear picture of readiness and a guaranteed college acceptance would likely be the difference between success and failure.
“’Proficiency’ on our exams has to mean something real,” (New York Education Commissioner David) Steiner wrote recently. “No good purpose is served when we say that a child is proficient when that child simply is not.”
Sol Stern writes about the history of New York’s testing mess in National Review.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills has come out with science and geography road maps that show how to integrate “new” skills into old subjects. Last year’s maps covered English Language Arts and social studies. Math is in the works.
The science and geography maps provide educators with teacher-created models of how 21st century skills can be infused into instruction and highlight the critical connections between science, geography and 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication.
There’s no content, complains Common Core. Instead, P21 explains that learning skills is more important than “acquiring information” and “assessing to learn what students do not know.”
So, under P21’s plan, students will learn less and their knowledge gaps will go undetected.
Common Core also wonders how students can learn from the suggested activities if they haven’t acquired any information.
The fourth-grade science activity is light on science:
Students in the class role-play citizens in a town meeting where members of the community express different points of view about a local issue, such as the location of a new school, building a bypass for traffic, or a re-zoning of downtown to be “pedestrian only” without vehicles, etc.
Eighth-grade science focuses on how a citizen evalutes scientific claims, not how to be a scientist. Most of us will be, at best, informed citizens, but what about the students who want to do science?
Students view video samples from a variety of sources of people speaking about a science-related topic (e.g., news reporters, news interviews of science experts, video podcasts of college lectures, segments from public television documentaries, or student-made videos of parents and professionals in their community). Students rate the videos on the degree to which the person sounded scientific…
A proposed 12th-grade geography activity asks students to conduct a survey to “test the law of retail gravitation (i.e., the number of visits a resident makes to competing shopping centers is inversely proportional to the distances between residence and center and proportional to the size of the center).” That is, people will travel longer distances to visit a large shopping center with many choices than to go to a small shopping center.
Given the percentage of young Americans who can’t find Iraq and Iran on a map — much less tell the difference between them — mastery of retail geography seems a bit esoteric.