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Geography: What is it for?

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Geography helps us understand and explore our world in a particular way. Geography is deeper than just knowing where places and places are situated on a map. Take the Olympics for example: We might investigate the location of participating countries and research their notable characteristics, but unless we consider the stories of these people and places, we won’t gain a deep understanding of what life is like in these countries and their place in the world. We need to question, how come some countries have only a few competitors? Why do some excel at specific sports while others do not? Geography allows us to see the interconnections and relationships between places and people, and use that understanding to inform our decisions in the future.

So what is geography for and what drives geographers to be inquisitive about our world? Is it the desire to locate the amazing places of the world? As well as paying attention to the world, thinking geographically nurtures an understanding that places and people don’t exist without interconnection. In geography, these interconnections are considered and explored in spatial terms. Geography makes use of a range of modern technological tools to explore and identify the different areas of the world. Geographers do not only focus on where places are and their interconnections but exploring the meaning of a place to people and its importance to their identity.

Students studying Geography view and analyze the world through the lens of the 7 geographical concepts; place, space, environment, scale, change, interconnection, and sustainability. To develop geographical thinking, both subject’s concepts and the content need to be highlighted. So with this in mind, let’s turn to the geography student. How might his teacher encourage him to think geographically? The student is meant to know where places are on map, to explore the nature of places, to understand why places are what they are, to analyze the impact places have on people and people have on places.

Geography forms us and the world. Globalization, made possible by the rise of technology, gives us many advantages but also exposes us to new threats that influence our lives and, in fact, the wellbeing of every life form on Earth. As we have “peopled” the Earth, we’ve used up and sometimes renewed its resources. We’ve massively increased the “built” environment. Technology has enabled the construction of skyscrapers, allowed people to live in virtually any environment, and enabled the construction of megalopolises. Now more than ever before, geographic learning must be considered a fundamental and essential focus of every person’s education.

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