Finding Our Place in the World

Geography and geosciences are incorporated into the following MIR Student Learner Outcomes:

· Cultural Subjects: MIR children will create a foundation for the appreciation of the humanities and the arts. They will have a sense of historical perspective, an understanding of one’s place in the world, and gratitude for the accomplishments of those who came before them.

 · Sciences: MIR children will have a conscious awareness and understanding of the natural world and its order. They will have the ability to recognize and use the basic methods of scientific inquiry.

Maria Montessori was very concerned about the world that she lived in. She lived through two World Wars and watched people become more and more disconnected from each other and from the earth. When deciding what to bring to children during their development and education, she put great emphasis on orienting them to the world around them. Starting with the tiniest children she created environments that had a strong order to them. Activities were color-coded, complete, and in sequence, so that from the very beginning the child could find their way around the classroom and the materials and build a strong internal compass.

When she designed sensorial materials, she looked for ways that children would practice the discrimination of size and shape. Rather than just using blocks, Montessori designed puzzle maps of the world. If they can identify the shape of a circle and a square, why not the shape of North America and Asia? Montessori used the child’s great capacity for language acquisition and gave them the names of all the continents and countries.

Montessori Primary classrooms have lots and lots of map work going on. As they learn the places on the globe, they are then presented the different flora, fauna, and cultures. As they grow, so does their appreciation for geography, both physical and cultural.

In Elementary, the children’s work in geography expands into the sciences of the physical world—biology, chemistry, physics, meteorology, geology. Their research extends into the history of different cultures and economic geography (what is produced where).

All of this work serves one purpose—to orient the child to their world and the people in it. Additionally, the children build a strong appreciation for the environment and different cultures. It is also a tremendous amount of fun for the children to engage in this work!

Students to Celebrate GIS Day

GIS Day was established by Redlands GIS software company Esri as a worldwide day of education outreach on the value and use of GIS in everyday life. From keeping the lights on to keeping trains running on time to organizing the (seemingly never-ending) road construction, GIS is an important if invisible technology in our lives.

MIR teachers of all levels organize activities to help students understand the importance of geography as a framework for studying and understand the world, and how GIS can be used in this process.

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