Saturday, March 14, 2015

More maps; fewer portraits

I've always felt that, when it comes to history texts, you can never have enough maps. Especially cartographically-challenged are America's K12 history books--something I was reminded of recently when checking out this page of J's American history book:

In place of the "Picturing History" portrait of Pike, why not a map showing--all at once--the Louisiana purchase and the paths of the Lewis and Clark and the Pike Expeditions, complete with rivers and mountains. Something like:

This would seem a more relevant way to picture history than what exactly Pike may have looked like in his officer's uniform with his soldiers in the background.

Of course, students can always "look it up on the Internet," as I did (expending all of about two seconds). But, in the age of mapless navigation and shrinking cartographic literacy, how many will be inspired enough, and motivated enough, to bother?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speaking as one who has loved maps since early childhood, I found that reading about Lewis and Clark while looking at a map like the one you show made the journey MUCH clearer to me. I think maps have been pushed aside to some extent because it's hard to teach children how to understand and learn from them. In fact, one of the ways that full inclusion classrooms modify the curriculum for children with developmental delays is to excuse them from having to learn much about maps or how to use them.