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The Alaska Geography Standards were modeled after the national
geography standards, Geography for Life (1994). The state and
national standards share a common vision, as expressed in the
Geography Education Standards Projectís publication:
The . . . Standards aim to create a geographically informed person: someone who understands that geography is the study of people, places, and environments from a spatial perspective, someone who appreciates the interdependent worlds in which we all live. The study of geography has practical value through the application of a spatial view to life situations (Geography for Life: National Geography Standards 1994:26,29).
Alaska teachers and administrators will find the above-noted
publication invaluable in describing the standards, age-appropriate
activities, and indicators of mastery at the elementary, junior high,
and senior high levels.
The Alaska Geography Standards also derive from the five themes of
geography which have focused classroom inquiry since the publication
of Guidelines for Geographic Education: K-12 (1984). The
themes ñlocation, place, human/environmental interactions,
movement, and region ñremain central to the Alaska Standards,
though reorganized under six standards.
Geography is a holistic discipline; it ties the natural, physical
sciences with the social sciences and humanities. The integrated
world view it fosters provides students an integrated approach to
problem solving and encourages their development as total,
world-aware citizens. Geography is an especially important discipline
in Alaska, with its mosaic of cultures and complex economic realities
closely tied to resource use and human-environment interactions.
Ironically, the strength of the discipline ñits holistic
approach ñcan also be its downfall. Too often districts assume
that geography will be taught within history or government classes,
and so fail to address the particular spatial and scientific/social
perspectives that only geography offers. The development of the
Alaska Geography Standards is an indication of the Alaska State Board
of Educationís belief that the discipline should not be lost,
but rather addressed directly in district curriculum.
With the aid of the conceptual framework provided by the Alaska Geography Standards, and the use of new computer and imaging technologies, Alaskaís educators can offer vital courses in the field. The key to excellent geography education lies in the recognition that geography is a wide discipline that includes a study of geographic features, resources, physical and human systems, and the interactions among them. A complete curriculum attends to all six of the standards.
A Thumbnail Sketch of the Alaska Standards for
Standard A. Seeing the
World in Spatial Terms
A student should be able to make and use maps, globes and graphs to gather, analyze, and report spatial (geographic) information.
Places and Regions
A student should be able to utilize, analyze, and explain information about human and physical features of places and regions.
Standard C. Physical
A student should understand the dynamic and interactive natural forces that shape the earthís environments.
Standard D. Human
A student should understand and be able to interpret spatial (geographic) characteristics of human systems, including migration, movement, interactions of cultures, economic activities, settlement patterns, and political units in the state, nation and world.
Standard E. Environment and
A student should understand and be able to evaluate how humans and physical environments interact.
Standard F. Power of
A student should be able to use geography to understand the world by interpreting the past, knowing the present, and preparing for the future.