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US to develop road map of futuristic geo-education

Washington, US: The National Geographic Society received a two-year, USD 2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation entitled “Establishing a Road Map for Large-Scale Improvement of K-12 Education in the Geographical Sciences.” National Geographic and three national organisations — the Association of American Geographers, the American Geographical Society and the National Council for Geographic Education — will work together to develop a 10-year strategic plan for geographic education in the US.

The organisations are responding to the growing recognition among educators, business leaders and policy makers that Americans lack critical geographic understanding and reasoning skills that will be required for civic life and careers in the 21st century.

The project brings together the nation’s leading thinkers in geography, education and research to create a set of landmark reports focusing on four key issues for improving education: instructional materials for students, education of teachers, assessment and research. The findings are intended to guide K-12 educational reforms that will significantly improve the geographic literacy of US youth over the next decade. The reports will make recommendations about critical priorities for educators, policymakers and funders.

The four partners are looking to use the growing awareness of the “crisis in geo-literacy” to accelerate the pace of their efforts to improve geographic education. “By creating a shared agenda for improving geographic education, we hope to avoid the uncoordinated and competing efforts that often undermine educational reform efforts,” said Daniel Edelson, vice president for education at the National Geographic Society and the principal investigator for the Road Map project.

“This project builds on a decades-long collaboration between our organisations,” said Douglas Richardson, executive director of the Association of American Geographers. “This collaboration reflects the need for academic and professional geographers to work together with educators and researchers to develop an educational system that will prepare students for the challenges of the modern, globally connected world.”

The partners have nominated three blue-ribbon committees of experts in geography, education and research from across the United States to develop the Road Map reports. The Assessment Committee will develop a framework for assessing progress toward geographic literacy from kindergarten through high school. The Professional Development and Instructional Materials Committee will make recommendations about approaches to the design of instructional materials and the education of teachers. The Educational Research Committee will develop an agenda for educational research that will lay out questions about learning, teaching and educational change that must be answered to maintain the effectiveness of geographic education into the future.

The committees will solicit input from experts and the public and will conduct systematic surveys of the relevant research literature. In addition, the project will support a nationwide research study of public perceptions of geography and the importance of geographic education. The Road Map reports and the study results are scheduled for release in June 2012.

Source: National Geographic