The study of geography is sadly neglected in many schools around the country and that trend seems to be growing unabated. The advent of GPS technology is enough to make one wonder if anyone will be able to read a map in another generation. America, and the rest of the technologically-enabled world, may simply find its way according to a computerized voice telling them to “turn here.”
There are ways for parents to combat this at home. The best way is by purchasing maps and teaching their children to use them. They can also encourage the kids to play games related to maps and geography, such as puzzles, trivia games, and even online interactive games. A good way to start is to purchase maps for each state. Starting alphabetically, they need only acquire a quality Alabama map to begin teaching their children the joys of geography — with a little bit of American history thrown in for good measure.
This map should include cities, waterways, natural landmarks and major highways and roads. In terms of geography, the inclusion of cities is very important. Maps are about much more than just the routes between places. By seeing where cities are situated, children begin to understand things like natural resources , trade, and even military strategies. A map will show that most major cities grow around waterways, such as harbors, rivers, and large lakes. These provide not just a source of water, but of food and trade routes. Railroads and later highways are also good indications not just of the accessibility of a town, but its relationship to other communities.
Looking at the map of alabama it is plain to see that Birmingham, the largest city in the state, is a hub of highways, enabling a constant flow of supplies, trade, and people. Likewise, Montgomery , as the capital city, sits on another hub of highways and is located near a major river.
With any luck, beginning to learn these basic geographical facts will spark a child’s imagination to seek out the history of Alabama from its initial exploration through the Civil War and into the twenty-first century. Parents may also find themselves being urged to visit the state so that their kids can see the places that interest them.