The Most Important Subject? Teach Your Kids Geography
Parag Khanna's newly released book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us delves into why geography is so important for your kids to understand and why it will affect their future.
The map of the world is forever ever changing as wars, pandemics and other seismic global events continue to shape our human experience. An understanding of geography can keep one from getting lost, as reading a map can allow one to explore a familiar environment and then confidently trek into new territory.
Yet, a deeper understanding of our history provides a solid base to predict our future in the complex world due to the movement and footprint of the nearly 8 billion people living on this Earth. Given today’s unpredictable nature as recently felt with the COVID 19 pandemic, understanding geography might provide profound insight into what actions can be taken on an individual and societal level, especially for the younger generation.
Our maps have evolved quite bit, considering the fact that the world’s oldest known tablet map was sketched in clay in the ancient city of Babylon around 600 B.C. The small map showed the world as flat and surrounded by a body of water - and it included real geography elements as well as Babylonian cosmology. By contrast, the map above shows the connectivity of the world.
The rich history of geography includes many founders each contributing to our modern day understanding of geography. Greek mathematician Eratosthenes (c. 275-194 BC), who is the founder of Geography, first calculated the circumference of the Earth and introduced the idea of latitude and longitude. German geographer Carl Ritter founded, along with Alexander von Humboldt, the experimental aspect of modern geographical science. Indian Geography founder Hames Rennell developed oceanography.
However, the next phase of human civilization is focused on the movements of people, in a future painted by futurist Parag Khanna. In Khanna’s new book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us, he describes how geography is important because humans are a visual species.
In the book, Khanna illustrates the emerging trends of the new movement of humans from different regions of the world. Geography has a lot more data these days, as evidenced in the various maps on Khanna’s website - each with an overlay of information including the connectivity of the world, rising water stress, the rising temperatures around the world, and the geography of food in the .
“No wonder geography is once again gaining popularity in high school, and Earth Observation (EO) and Geography Information Systems (GIS) are sought-after courses in universities, with their graduates getting jobs that have tangible positive impact. There is nothing more important for youth to study. These fields hold the key to how we survive the complex decades ahead. Geography evolves, and human society must evolve with it,” Khanna writes in his book MOVE.
Unlike Babylonian times, kids these days can learn much better through maps and images than text. What better way to understand themselves by understanding where they are from - and where they maybe going.