February 21, 2011
A Geography Lesson
Joe Gannon, one of Bill’s dart buddies, recently e-mailed a link to an interactive map of the Middle East, one of the teaching tools on the web site of Rethinking Schools, a small Milwaukee-area nonprofit that publishes educational materials for elementary and secondary teachers in all 50 states, all 10 Canadian provinces, and many other countries.
With the recent news coverage of protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, Joe’s e-mail is timely. As Joe commented: “It is amazing how often we speak and or hear about these countries and don't really know where they are.”
The Rethinking Schools map stretches from the northwestern part of Africa, east to what I call “The Ekestans” — those countries around Afghanistan that were formed after the U.S.S.R. fell apart. The goal is to put the correct country name onto the correct empty space.
Two things struck me when I took a shot at putting the map together. The first was how small some of the countries are. Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Kuwait. Bahrain is about the size of Delaware. Honesty, they just don’t look like they have enough real estate to be an actualized nation, or big enough to govern themselves. Like if our smallest state, Rhode Island, had a royal family or an emir or its own president. I am certain that my view on this is western bias.
The second thing I learned was how little I know about the blueprint of Africa. Oh, placing Egypt was easy. But where the dickens is Mauritania? (There’s a clue for you — it is in Africa.) And Mali? Western Sahara is, obviously, in the west, but where exactly? As Bill and I often say: There is so much we do not know.
So do you think you know the countries in this volatile part of the world? You may be more clueless than you believe but at least the technical skill level for playing the map game won’t confound you: Just drag a country’s name from the menu onto the map and drop. There’s no time limit. No bombs explode if you get it wrong and try to put Chad where Quatar is.
Click here for the Map Game.
Test your knowledge. You’ll feel, and be, smarter when you finish.