Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum: Reviewing the Moral Case for Geography
January 21, 2009
Alex Standish, a young and formidably articulate British-bred geographer at Western Connecticut State University, is something of a libertarian when it comes to education (the state should meddle less in schools) but also something of a "universalist" about curriculum. (He's unfond of charter schools, for example, because of the curricular balkanization he thinks they foster.) He's just published a well-wrought and much-needed exposé of politicization in the geography curriculum of British and American schools--this being a subject that's long been taken seriously in the UK and woefully neglected on our side of the Atlantic--that firmly and cogently argues the traditional liberal-arts case for geography education: not to fill kids' heads with grownups' notions of environmentalism, multiculturalism, and such, but rather to equip them with the skills and knowledge that will enable them later to work such things out for themselves. To "reestablish the intrinsic worth" of geography in the curriculum, he writes, "all political, social and economic extrinsic aims for geography [must be] expelled from the discipline. Schools need to be recognized as institutions of education, not a place to fix social and political problems which arise in the adult political sphere." Bravo, hooray, and please see for yourself. You can learn more about the book here and more about Standish's views on NCLB, Obama, and such here.