Friday, April 04, 2008

Practical Geography in a Phone Book

I am currently recovering in my hotel room from a billion vaccine shots. In a desperate attempt to entertain my aching, drugged self I browsed through the phone book and found an interesting way to teach practical geography.

The phone book contains a page of information discussing hurricanes and has a map of the North Atlantic and Caribbean featuring a dot-point latitude and longitude grid. The map (I'll post a facsimile later) is for people to chart an incoming hurricane. The hope is one will be able to self-predict landfall and leave before the official evacuation rush begins.

This has me thinking. Geographical knowledge campaigns usually focus on schools to reach the public. A section in the phone book with very practical, life-saving geographical knowledge is a great way to reach people. What other efforts exist to reach people this way? I can think of a few examples. The process of sink holes and how flood plains work can be placed in real estate guides (people want to know if their investment is on solid ground). Interesting trivia features can be placed in news articles explaining how globalization effects everyday things (the Washington Post had a great feature describing the origins of the various things that went into the new Nationals ballpark).

People are not opposed to geography; the science has just been taught wrong. It is not just countries and capitals but useful and fascinating things.

1 comment:

Andy said...

When I visited California 20 years ago I was impressed that they had "what to do in case of an earthqauke" directions in the phone books. I was impressed.