English

Identify the main ideas of the paragraphs.

My answers are in parentheses.

(Geography is essential to our education.) Not just knowing how to read a map, but at least a basic understanding of where countries, states and continents are located on a map. Yet the study of our world has many other implications as well:

It’s multidisciplinary – (You have to read maps, and understand what symbols mean.) Distances, angles, and rates of speed for travel all need to be calculated. Borders between states or countries can change or shift over time for different reasons. The natural boundaries–mountains, rivers, oceans, etc.–serve ecological, social and economic purposes. Geography extends to every discipline.

(It informs our history) — New York City isn’t where it is because of dumb luck. Verrazzano and Hudson both stumbled into the greatest natural harbor on the Atlantic coast. Boston started as a peninsula sheltered by the inland water of Cape Cod. New Orleans sprang up at the terminus of our continent’s most important river system. These were no accidents–geography played a huge role in the development of civilization.

(It informs our perceptions, both true and false) — one need look no further than the greatest tool of white supremacy in world history, the 1569 Mercator world map. Yes, a map. Gerardus Mercator’s wildly popular map was created with a huge distortion: the areas farthest away from the Equator were abnormally larger. Europe, North America and Russia are all greatly oversized. Europe is also placed squarely in the middle, as if the world revolved around it. Now, this was probably unintentional–Mercator was European, after all, and used a familiar vantage point–but this map has helped to color our perceptions of people and countries for many years. It’s important for kids to understand this.

It’s tactile — (Geography is one of the few parts of social studies that’s hands-on.) The best way to get a kid excited about the world is to put a map or globe in their grubby little mitts. To actually see where the United States is compared to the rest of the world can often be a shocking experience. It also helps the student understand the world doesn’t always revolve around us–even though that’s how it seems.

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  1. I agree with most of your answers, but I think this is better:

    "Geography extends to every discipline."

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