The first-ever summit on the future of geographic education in Canada will take place in St. John’s this summer, about eight months after some students at the city’s Memorial University made national news for their dismal performance on a basic geography test (The inside story, “Lost on a map,” April 2013).
The Aug. 10 meeting is a key event in the This Is Geography campaign, which the Canadian Association of Geographers and Canadian Geographic Education recently launched to raise awareness of the subject. Canadian Geographic spoke to Jean Andrey, president of the Canadian Association of Geographers, which is co-hosting the summit with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, to discuss the upcoming event and its importance.
Canadian Geographic: What can we expect from the summit?
Jean Andrey: It will bring representatives of educational initiatives, agencies and ministries together in an unprecedented way in this country. If we come out of it with a better idea of the state of geographic education in Canada and can hammer out a resolution on the direction to take, then we’ll have reached our goals.
CG: The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Canadian Association of Geographers formally joined forces in 2012. Why did this partnership come about?
JA: Canada’s geographic community has had really strong connections in the past. But about three decades ago we began to focus on our own core missions and didn’t pause to help each other with the broader initiatives. Everyone recognizes that we need to do a better job of networking and working together.
CG: How would you rate geographic education in Canada?
JA: I’m concerned that insufficient attention is being paid to geography. Geography education needs to do better, both in teaching practices and knowledge. That said, I do think some schools and some provinces have a really good curriculum.
What should high school graduates know about geography? Watch Jean Andrey moderate a Google+ hangout in July to find out. For more information, visit thisisgeography.ca/hangouts.