If you gave a student a globe to hold for fifteen minutes and asked him to write a list of ten new things he learned about the globe while playing with it, he’d learn more than you ever dreamed.
That’s why if I were in charge of high school graduation, I’d give out diplomas in exchange for a student-made globe. Here’s why.
When I taught at a community college, I discovered a huge gap in my students’ knowledge. In the middle of a discussion about Jean Piaget (the Swiss developmental psychologist about whom every teacher learns) a hand went up and a student asked, “Where is Switzerland?”
“Who can find it?” I asked, pointing to a globe. No one could. The closest anyone came was Norway.
Upon further questioning, I discovered it’s not that my students had forgotten where Switzerland was, it was that they’d never learned.
There was no way I could let my students, on my watch, go on with this scary lack of knowledge. Their final exam that semester included a world map:
Label the 7 continents, the 5 oceans, North Pole, South Pole, Arctic Circle, Antarctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, Equator, and the Tropic of Capricorn
Try this with anyone in middle school on up. Grab an orange and a black marker. Ask them to draw the continents on the orange as if it were the globe and label as much as possible from the list above.
Each of us is responsible for making sure that every student understands fundamental knowledge. Whether you’re a mechanic, a physical education teacher, or a retiree, the world is in your hands.