Grade: A 100%

For Geography, I faced a slight predicament. I actually took a very good geography course in my eighth grade year. So to enhance my learning this year and get my credit from my off-campus program I do through Clonlara School, I had to get a little creative in choosing my curriculum so that I wouldn’t just be going over material I already knew.

Thus, I chose to take the Great Courses, Understanding Cultural and Human Geography by Paul Robbins, and read Geography of the World by DK Publishing. These experiences further enhanced my knowledge of geography in an entertaining way, and they were great choices for this curriculum. 

Understanding Cultural and Human Geography was a very informative course. There were many interesting things I learned in this book, including the relation of humans ourselves to geography. The course delves into how humans impact the environment and cause climate change, rather than only covering countries, cities and states, as most geography curriculums cover. For example, I liked that it talks about deforestation which is actually a very old problem. I learned that China even cleared forests as early as the 5th century C.E. needing space for farms. In addition, the greenhouse effect is discussed in great detail which I wouldn’t have expected from a geography course. Interestingly, Robbins even discusses the detrimental effects of lawn care chemicals to the environment in America. As an environmentalist, I really appreciated this section of the book.

Paul Robbins also talks about an interesting subject – disease geography, which I found especially fascinating because I was taking the course during a global pandemic. Robbins covers how Jon Snow mapped cases and deaths of many major epidemics. Maps can test relationships between diseases and the places they are in. In addition, global travel increases the opportunity for diseases to reach more places. For instance, this applies to a major pandemic scare recently, SARS, which stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The SARS Coronavirus is a severe fever and respiratory ailment with a nine to twelve percent fatality rate. The virus is transmitted by air, being close to an infected person, and traveling by coughing and sneezing too. Also, the course discusses MERS, another coronavirus, that originates in the Middle East.

Most geography curriculums wouldn’t talk about global economic geography, however, Understanding Cultural and Human Geography does in great detail. Again, the timeliness of these lessons was perfect as our world’s economy struggles with the effects of the pandemic. For instance, it talks about economic structure – the sharing of economic activity that’s dedicated to different kinds of activities and processes in a country. Robbins covers primary, secondary, and tertiary activities. Primary activities are associated with making raw materials, like producing raw leather by livestock raising. Secondary activities are processing those raw materials into the final products, for example, assembly line manufacturing or turning that leather into shoes. Tertiary activities is the selling of those products.

I also read Geography of the World by DK Publishing. Unlike many other geography books, this book was not dry and boring. It was rather interesting and engaging to read and I learned a lot.

One way that the book was engaging to read is that there are lots of pictures and fun facts in the book, bringing geography to life. It has very detailed three dimensional maps that even point out the longest rivers, tallest mountains and largest lakes of a country. Natural disasters such as global warming, forest fires, tornadoes and tsunamis are discussed. This book also talks about economics, world religions, and governments of the world. I learned a lot about world governments from this book, including the rise of capitalism and the move towards democracy in several countries.

Similar to Understanding Cultural and Human Geography, Geography of the World by DK Publishing does cover economics with showing the wealth of countries and economic struggles and benefits, but in my opinion Understanding Cultural and Human Geography covers economics in more detail than Geography of the World. However, Geography of the World was more interesting than Understanding Cultural and Human Geography by Paul Robbins, because of all the illustrations, detailed charts, photos, graphics, and fact boxes giving info on a country’s population, government, language and currency.

Both Geography of the World and Understanding Cultural and Human Geography were great for my Geography curriculum for my 12th grade year. I would highly recommend them for anyone wanting to enhance their knowledge of world geography.

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