ERIC Identifier: ED360220
Publication Date: 1993-04-00
Author: Patrick, John J.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
Geography in History: A Necessary Connection in the School
Curriculum. ERIC Digest.
Geography and history are prominent subjects of the current curriculum reform
agenda. Both subjects have been emphasized in high-profile curriculum reform
reports produced by various organizations, such as the Bradley Commission on
History in Schools, the Education for Democracy Project of the American
Federation of Teachers, and the National Commission on Social Studies in the
Schools. The Bradley Commission, for example, recognizes "the relationship
between geography and history as a matrix of time and place, and as context for
events" (1988, 9). And, according to the report of the National Commission on
Social Studies in the Schools, "Because they offer the perspectives of time and
place, history and geography should provide the matrix or framework for social
studies" (1989, 3). Furthermore, projects were launched in 1992 to develop
national standards for teaching and learning geography and history in elementary
and secondary schools. Finally, geography and history are highlighted as core
subjects of the school curriculum in Goal Three of a set of six National
Education Goals proclaimed in February 1990 by the President and state governors
(Executive Office of the President 1990).
GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY IN NEW CURRICULUM FRAMEWORKS
state-level curriculum frameworks have emphasized geography and history as core
subjects of the social studies sequence of courses, from kindergarten through
the twelfth grade. In 1990, for example, the Florida Commission on Social
Studies Education published CONNECTIONS, CHALLENGES, CHOICES, which presents the
objectives, subjects, topics, and rationale for the state of Florida's new
social studies curriculum for grades K-12. This Florida curriculum document
emphasizes this central theme: "We recommend the adoption of a K-12 social
studies program of study that... emphasizes history and geography (1990, 3).
The Florida Commission on Social Studies Education went along with a trend
initiated by THE HISTORY-SOCIAL SCIENCE
FRAMEWORK FOR CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, KINDERGARTEN
GRADE TWELVE in placing the synthesizing and integrating subjects
of history and geography at the center of the social studies curriculum of
elementary and secondary schools. The California curriculum document was the
leader in proclaiming the necessary connection of history and geography at the
core of the curriculum: "History and geography are the two great integrative
studies of the field [of social studies]....Throughout this curriculum, the
importance of the variables of time and place, when and where, history and
geography, is stressed repeatedly" (1988, 4).
In 1992, two more state-level departments of education, Alabama and
Mississippi, produced social studies curriculum frameworks based on the
interrelated subjects of geography and history, with emphasis also given to the
subjects of civics/government and economics. The Alabama and Mississippi
curriculum frameworks, like the California and Florida documents, stress the
utility and logic of teaching and learning geography through courses in American
history and world history.
GEOGRAPHY AS AN INDISPENSABLE PART OF HISTORICAL STUDY
eminent geographer Donald Meinig views geography and history as complementary
and necessarily connected in teaching and learning about the past and present.
He effectively demonstrates the use of geographical ideas in the study of
history in his remarkable work of scholarship: THE SHAPING OF AMERICA: A
GEOGRAPHICAL PERSPECTIVE ON 500 YEARS OF AMERICAN HISTORY. In the preface to
this three-volume project, Meinig stresses that, "geography is not just a
physical stage for the historical drama, not just a set of facts about areas of
the earth. It is a special way of looking at the world. Geography, like history,
is an age-old and essential strategy for thinking about large and complex
matters" (1987, xv). Teachers should examine Meinig's work to develop a
geographic perspective on major events and themes in history.
Key concepts of geography, such as location, place, and region, are tied
inseparably to major ideas of history, such as time, period, and events.
Geography and history in tandem enable learners to understand how events and
places have affected each other across time, how people have influenced and have
been influenced by their environments in different periods of the past.
Geographic learning is, therefore, essential to sound teaching and learning of
history in general and American history in particular.
The necessity of connecting geography to history in the school curriculum is
discussed in the recently issued FRAMEWORK FOR THE 1994 NAEP U.S. HISTORY
ASSESSMENT. The authors point out that, "history has a spatial dimension--the
places where human actions occur. For example, aspects of the natural
environment, such as climate and terrain, influence human behavior; and people
affect the places they inhabit. Therefore, main ideas of geography, such as the
location of places and relationships within places should be included as
important parts of the study of history" (1992, 10).
HOW TO INCLUDE GEOGRAPHY IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF
How should curriculum developers and teachers proceed to connect
geography with history in the curriculum? They might begin with five geographic
themes, presented in GUIDELINES FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION: location, place,
relationships within places, movement, and regions. The National Council for
Geographic Education, the Association of American Geographers, and the National
Geographic Society have endorsed these five themes as foundations for geography
education in schools. Increasingly, they are being adopted by developers of
curriculum guides for state-level departments of education and local school
districts. For example, these five themes are emphasized in the influential
HISTORY SOCIAL SCIENCE FRAMEWORK FOR CALIFORNIA PUBLIC
How can these five geographic themes be used to illuminate and
enhance important topics in standard American history courses?
Each of the five major themes of geography education is stated and described
below in connection with key questions about a major event in world history: the
voyages of Columbus, undertaken from 1492-1504.
* Location: People and places are positioned variously
on the Earth's surface. Where in the world are places
located? What are the locations of places in Europe and
the Caribbean region that were linked by the Columbian
voyages? How did the relative location of these places
affect the events of the Columbian voyages?
* Place: Physical and human characteristics distinguish
one place from other places. What makes a place special?
How have the distinguishing characteristics of a place,
such as Cuba, Santo Domingo, or Spain, changed because of
cataclysmic events of the Columbian voyages?
* Relationships within Places: The interactions of
humans with their environments shape the characteristics
of both people and the environment. How do people change
the natural environment and how does the environment
influence the activities of people? How did
human-environment interactions affect the physical and
human characteristics of the Western hemisphere region
during and after the Columbian voyages?
* Movement: Human interactions on the Earth--people,
products, and information--affect the characteristics
of places. What are the global patterns of movement of
people, products, microbes, domestic animals, seeds, and
information that developed as a consequence of the
* Regions: The earth can be divided into regions to help
us understand similarities and differences of people and
places. How did the Caribbean region form and change
during and after the Columbian voyages? How did the
regions of Western Europe and Western Africa change
because of the Columbian voyages?
The geographic themes discussed above are indispensable aids to understanding
major events in U.S. history. For example, the themes of location and place can
be fruitfully applied to analysis of President Jefferson's decision to purchase
Louisiana and President Theodore Roosevelt's desire to build a canal across the
isthmus of Panama. Teachers of American history can use the ideas of
relationships within places (human-environment interactions) and region to
enhance their students' learning about problems of the "Dust Bowl" of the Great
Plains in the 1930s and New Deal programs designed to resolve such problems.
Further, the geographic themes of region, movement, and place can yield insights
for students about the "great migration" of Black Americans from the rural South
to the urban North during the first half of the twentieth century.
EXEMPLARY INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS THAT USE THE FIVE GEOGRAPHIC THEMES IN LESSONS ON AMERICAN HISTORY
The Agency for Instructional
Technology (AIT) has produced a set of 10 video programs, GEOGRAPHY IN U.S.
HISTORY, that connects the five geographic themes to key events in United States
history. These 20-minute programs, designed for use in secondary school history
courses, include the following topics:
* North versus South in the Founding of the United
* Jefferson Decides to Purchase Louisiana, 1801-1815.
* Civil War and Social Change in Georgia: The Case of
* Clash of Cultures on the Great Plains: The Case of Red
Cloud and the Lakota People, 1865-1890.
* An Industrial Revolution in Pittsburgh, 1865-1900.
* Americans Build the Panama Canal, 1901-1914.
* A Nation of Immigrants: The Chinese-American
* Moving North to Chicago: The Great Migration of Black
Americans from the Rural South to the Urban North,
* A New Deal for the Dust Bowl, 1931-1945.
* The Origin and Development of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO), 1945-1991.
Information about these ten programs, can be obtained from the Agency for
Instructional Technology, Box A, Bloomington, Indiana 47402; telephone: (812)
The National Geographic Society has produced a multi-media set of
instructional materials that connects major themes of geography to the study of
American history. This product is titled GTV: A GEOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE ON
AMERICAN HISTORY. Computers and laser discs present a visual journey through
American history, with a special focus on geography. Each segment treats a
different topic. Software allows rearrangement of maps and pictures to create
individualized presentations. This interactive video program includes three
types of information: (1) surveys of themes in American history, (2) primary
documents, and (3) population data for particular periods of American history.
This product is distributed for the National Geographic Society by Optical Data
Corporation, 30 Technology Drive, Warren, New Jersey 07059.
Another exemplary teaching tool, published by the National Geographic
Society, is HISTORICAL ATLAS OF THE UNITED STATES. This splendid oversized
volume presents American history from a geographic perspective. The
chronological treatment begins in 1400 and ends in 1988. Information about this
historical atlas can be obtained from the National Geographic Society, 1600 M
Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036.
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES
The following list of
resources includes references used to prepare this Digest. The items followed by
an ED Number are available in microfiche and/or paper copies from the ERIC
Document Reproduction Service (EDRS). For information about prices, contact
EDRS, 7420 Fullerton Road, Suite 110, Springfield, Virginia 22153-2842;
telephone numbers are (703) 440-1440 and (800) 443-3742. Entries followed by an
EJ number, annotated monthly in CURRENT INDEX TO JOURNALS IN EDUCATION (CIJE),
are not available through EDRS. However, they can be located in the journal
section of most libraries by using the bibliographic information provided,
requested through Interlibrary Loan, or ordered from UMI or ISI reprint
Alabama State Department of Education. ALABAMA COURSE OF STUDY: SOCIAL
STUDIES. Montgomery, 1992. ED number will be assigned.
American Federation of Teachers. EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRACY: A STATEMENT OF
PRINCIPLES. Washington, DC, 1987. ED 313 217.
Bradley Commission on History in Schools. BUILDING A HISTORY CURRICULUM: GUIDELINES FOR TEACHING HISTORY IN SCHOOLS. Westlake, OH: National Council for History Education, 1988. ED 310 008.
Curriculum Task Force of the National Commission on Social Studies in the
Schools. CHARTING A COURSE: SOCIAL STUDIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. Washington, DC:
National Commission on Social Studies in the Schools, 1989. ED 317 450.
Dodge, Bernard J., et al. "Teaching History and Geography with FutureFone: A
Computer Simulation of Telecommunications in the Year 2000." SOCIAL STUDIES
REVIEW 30 (Spring 1991): 97-104. EJ 440 283.
Executive Office of the President. NATIONAL GOALS FOR EDUCATION. Washington,
DC, 1990. ED 319 143.
Florida Commission on Social Studies Education. CONNECTIONS, CHALLENGES,
CHOICES. Tallahassee: Florida Department of Education, 1990. ED number will be
Garrett, Wilbur E., John B. Garver, Jr., et al., editors. HISTORICAL ATLAS OF
THE UNITED STATES. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1988.
History-Social Science Curriculum Framework and Criteria Committee.
HISTORY-SOCIAL SCIENCE FRAMEWORK FOR CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Sacramento:
California State Department of Education, 1988. ED 293 779.
Joint Committee on Geographic Education. GUIDELINES FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION: ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS. Washington, DC: Association of American Geographers, 1984. ED 252 453.
Meinig, Donald. THE SHAPING OF AMERICA: A GEOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE ON 500 YEARS
OF AMERICAN HISTORY. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987.
Mississippi State Department of Education. MISSISSIPPI CURRICULUM STRUCTURE:
SOCIAL STUDIES. Jackson, 1992. ED number will be assigned.
National Assessment Project for the 1994 NAEP U.S. History Assessment.
FRAMEWORK FOR THE 1994 NAEP U.S. HISTORY ASSESSMENT. Washington, DC: Council of
Chief State School Officers, 1992.
National Geographic Society. GTV: A GEOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE ON AMERICAN
HISTORY. Warren, NJ: Optical Data Corporation, 1990.
Patrick, John J. GEOGRAPHY IN U.S. HISTORY: A TEACHER'S GUIDE. Bloomington,
IN: Agency for Instructional Technology, 1991. ED 337 386.
Reinhartz, Dennis, and Judy Reinhartz. "History, Geography, and Maps:
Teaching World History." TEACHING HISTORY: A JOURNAL OF METHODS. 16 (Fall 1991):
84-90. EJ 446 467.
Stoltman, Joseph P. GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION FOR CITIZENSHIP. Bloomington, IN:
ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education, 1990. ED 322