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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Are maps becoming more introspective? #maps #mapping #geography

This is just a short throw down of some thoughts based on a discussion I had today while doing some extra work that's come my way. We were talking about international boundaries and the shape of the world map, in particular, some of the more regular or straight line boundaries. The discussion reminded me that as a youngster (and still to this day) I was absolutely fascinated by the atlas, the location of places, the assembly of boundaries and the likes. However, in thinking about the curriculum in Scotland, it would almost be possible to have a very minimalistic mapping input to Geography education, and in feedback, certainly over the last 5 years, it seems to be an element of geographical learning that students enjoy less.
I used to find this puzzling as mapping has never been so in vogue. Students on facebook will check in to locations, creating their own little footprints on maps. Some will tweet with geotagged ramblings. Many web apps have location functions. On top of that, many cars and phones will have navigation. However, this is clearly a different type of map than the ones I was brought up with. I think there is maybe less curiosity about far flung places because of the huge amount of accessible material (although recently, some of my own students challenged me on this). To ask about a place is to initiate a google search for information which may be quickly forgotten. I think students do respond to the maps which are more personal to themselves - showing friends where they are, sharing cool places, those to bodyswerve, those to be endured. However, we seem to be looking more and more at a map centred around ourselves and our own movements. We might share this
map with the world, we might even be helping to crowd source a bigger one, but effectively, it's our pin that matters. I don't claim this as a truth, just an observation and would happily be proved wrong. What do others think? Sent from my iPod

Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous


At 5:12 pm, Anonymous John said...

I am not sure if this is a recent change. I've alway loved maps, but the ones I've been interested in are the ones I've used. Before the internet I loved the local OS map, using for Scout stuff and in my teens for recording mammals for the British Mammal Society (I think). I've still got the 55p Loch Lomond and the Trossachs map I used for grid referencing mammals (vole skulls and mole hills) I loved that map. Later I loved maps of hitchhiking trips. Now I like google map mashups of where I've walked, taken pictures, videos recorded sounds etc. Like your students I've little interest in maps of places I've not been. I rarely looks at maps in travel books etc.
perhaps the mark of a geographer is the ability to read and be fascinated by maps of unknown territories.


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