Learning Tip: Geographic Mores and Morals
By Susan Dichter
In colonial days, geography was thought of as a "diversion for a winter's evening" and not an essential part of a child's education. Schools eventually recognized the importance of geography, but often enforced stereotypes. In one nineteenth century text book, a chapter on "States of Society" divided mankind into "four classes: savage, barbarous, half-civilized and civilized."
It's fortunate that those days are past. We now realize that our kids need to be informed about the world and to grow up respecting other cultures and peoples.
A map of the world tacked up on a wall in your house is a start—when places are mentioned on the six o'clock news or on the radio, ask your child to find them on your map. Also, be vigilant about stereotypes. Help her to see that stereotypical images of people are simplistic distortions that do great harm. How would she like it if the fact that she wore glasses, or had red hair, caused people to prejudge her?
Susan Dichter wears many hats—mother, writer, former teacher, museum director and librarian; her books include Teachers: Straight Talk From The Trenches.
© 2001-2012 LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.