Slide – Any educator that buys wall maps or globes should be fired


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See also my other slides and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

UPDATE 1: In addition to the great comments below, see also my follow-up post.

UPDATE 2: We're having a slide remake contest! Deadline is Aug 22, 2009.

62 Responses to “Slide – Any educator that buys wall maps or globes should be fired”

  1. Wow! Lots of comments. I don’t even know if this was already addressed. I’m retired military. I spent 21 years working in intelligence. Maps were (and are) part and parcel to that field. We had geospatial analysts embedded in our organizations from the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency – formerly NIMA) and worked extensively with GIS and other mapping software.

    Digital maps are great, but even big boys (and girls) need the physical product when “boots hit the ground” You never know when a computer or a server is going to go down and the last thing you want to tell a commander (or a boss) is, “well, I had the map right here on the screen…” That will go over like a lead balloon. Additionally, screens are often not large enough (except at the strategic and operational level) to see extensive maps. Placing various data on the maps (layers) and than printing them out and putting it together and putting it on a wall gives an organization an opportunity to see the “big picture”.

    While this is not necessarily applicable to the classroom, it has always been my belief that we are to teach students about “real-world” uses for classroom activities. (caveat: I’m not advocating the promotion of military service to students. There are plenty of uses of maps in the civilian sector as well).

    I agree with many other commentors about the joy of the physical product being on the wall and how students seem enthralled by them. I also agree with your sentiments though. There are many digital maps out there that can be used in lieu of hard copy maps. (One thing we tried to avoid was printing out maps if we didn’t absolutely need them). There are definite advantages and disadvantages to both digital and hard-copy maps.

    On a separate (and personal) note: I was once in charge of a map room that had over 300,000 maps from 1:25,000 up to 1:5,000,000 (mostly 1:50,000), mapping out the entire Middle East and North Africa. It was always fun going in there and looking at those maps. I love maps and rummaging through them is as much fun as some folks would have with the sports section of a newspaper!

  2. I showed this slide, and the one you did of the kid in desperate circumstances, in my presentation to 80 teachers and administrators in Connecticut yesterday. You can see the presentation here: and here:

    There was audible and visible startlement at both slides, and a widespread recognition that every school represented at the conference could do more with less.

    So your ideas are having an effect. We were running behind on time, so I didn’t have a chance to credit you either during or in posting the slideshow, but I will. Promise.

  3. No Maps? Really?

    Clearly you are someone who has never navigated cross-country in tall forests, or in high mountains. And if you don’t understand the “why” of that comment then you are way out of your depth even talking about this subject.

    When you use technology without understanding what it’s foundation is, you do not understand the knowledge, or its origin.

    You are just a monkey who learned how to push the on-off button of the flashlight, you have no idea where the light comes from.

    Thankfully people who do care about maps and globes were around to create; GIS, GPS, etc. So you can now causally dismiss that hard earned knowledge.

    Do not fetishize technology, it is an ugly habit.

  4. The slide doesn’t say “no maps”. It says public money shouldn’t be spent on wall maps and globes.

    For the $400+ that a wall map of the ancient world costs, I got a Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman world for my classroom…. every archaeological site… every arena… every villa… every aqueduct…. every known latifundia… all in one book. Real data, combined with topographical information.

    For the same money, I could have gotten a rather vague map that showed the boundaries of the Roman empire, none of the provincial boundaries, none of the legion positions, and maybe a rough outline of the Sasanid empire. I know which set of maps I’d prefer.

    I use GIS, GPS, Google Earth and Yahoo Maps to show the ruins of Babylon and Uruk, and not just their positions on a Europe+Middle East map. I use them to show the route of Vasco DaGama around the Cape of Good Hope, and the ruins of the Portuguese slave trading forts, and the ruins of Kilwa, and the trading harbors of Mombasa and Calicut.

    I’d need hundreds of dollars worth of maps at multiple scales do do all of that, from a dozen different government agencies in a half-dozen different governments. And some might be classified. Or I can use a digital projector and the school’s internet connection.

    And I still teach my students to navigate with topo map and compass in the woods. That’s the appropriate technology for that environment… as Google Earth is in the classroom.

  5. And if something happens to LAN or net or system crashes, then we will not see where are ruins of Babylon and Uruk. I don’t have GPS and I like my globe! I am parent who take kids over the ocean, every year, to see something new and, learn part of world’s history. I can’t afford GPS (saving for trips), and I don’t care since, globe will do just fine for $5.00 and, I can bet my kids will know where on the map/globe is/was any state or country you can name, through history.

  6. After thinking about this a bit, I don’t take offense to the word “fired” as I did initially. It got my attention, and I needed to reflect. I am a teacher with over 20 years of experience, and I will be teaching for 20 more. I need to change and adapt my approach to facilitating my students’ learning which means using technology, as well as paper maps and globes, to access geographical information. I checked out the prices of globes and individual maps, and they are expensive. I think it is important for kids to have experience using them as tools and resources, but as I am currently learning, there is so much more I can do to engage my students with Google Maps and Google Earth. This slide just says to me that it is my responsibility as an educator to make sure that I move beyond my comfort zone and own experience as a student, and use the technology that is out there. It is irresponsible of me not to.

  7. Hi Scott ~ I saw the poster on the New Era Moodle feast in BC and thought: that’s my island!

    What you are putting out is actually “dangerously relevant”. Cheers, Paul J.

  8. I want want to believe that both these technologies (and they are both technologies) have their place in the teaching and learning environment and should be used in any approrpiate situation to facilitate proper learning to take place. I don’t agree that anybody should be fired for using which ever one they feel comfortable and confident with as long as we all appreciate the value we can add to our classrooms if we use both the old and the new. In life we mostly use the old to support the new and nature it to maturity. It happens even in us humans, “I have never heard of a family that kills its grannies when a daughter is born, but instead it the granny who helps raise the child”. So buy paper maps as well as use google maps. We in the developing world do not the luxury of having access to the internet in the majority of our villages, even in towns sometimes, because of lack of infrastructure and where it is present, the cost of connectivity is highly prohibitive.

  9. Teachers who draw maps on stone walls should be fired…
    Teachers who take student outside with paper maps, tell them to turn map to orient to north and out of LAN range should be fired…
    Teachers who draw map on ground with stick in dirt as students try to figure out where they are in the woods should be….
    I once was in a place in the world where knowing where you are was VERY important and I had GPS and all the tech toys. I still carried a map and a compass.

  10. I passionately agree that maps and globes no longer belong in the classroom. Neither do textbooks, pencils and paper.

    Check out the iSchool Initiative.

  11. FWIW: I love the digital technologies. I use them daily in a fifth grade 1:1 classroom. But I also strongly believe my kids need to hold a globe, spin it around, and play/learn with it.

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