National Geographic : 1986 Aug
SA short walk and a mile of achievement GEOGRAPHY becomes important to some only when it promises to bite. Last spring we were asking, "How far is Seattle from Kiev, and which way does the wind blow?" Traditional geographic questions but asked in deadly earnest. A major problem we have met in our program to restore geography to a deserved place in the curriculum is not only the lack of students to answer such questions but also the lack of teachers to ask them. This summer the National Geographic Society is taking a major step to help meet that need. A short walk from my office here at Society headquarters, school is in session-a school for teachers. They are participating in the first National Geographic Summer Geography Institute. All stu dents are secondary-school teachers, selected for excellence and leadership, and we are preparing them to teach other teachers. The 45 men and women attending the institute were chosen by eight Geographic Alliance coordi nators. The alliances-in Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, southern and northern California, and Washington, D. C.-were initiated by Christopher "Kit" Salter, professor of geography at UCLA, and modeled after the one he founded in California in 1983. We motivate teacher participation by providing travel expenses, lodging, and a stipend, as well as the chance to earn credits from George Washington University-but we are asking something in return. Once back home, all graduates of our institute are required to give at least three staff-development workshops this academic year for other teach ers in their local school districts. Thus, teaching good teachers to teach geography is how Salter and his fine faculty are spending these warm summer weeks. In the fall, new enthusiasm will be planted in school dis tricts around the country. And we anticipate that in years ahead similar institutes will be conducted by the regional Geographic Alliances. We have a long road to travel, but I feel we have already made a fine start-we have received great moral support, and material support as well, including a very generous pledge of $50,000 from Governor Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to support an alliance institute in his state. A gift of $10 came from Ellsworth, Maine, with a note: "Enclosed is the best I can do to help the Summer Geography Institute. My best wishes for its success!" It meant as much to me as a sum ten times larger, for it is a sign that the grass roots are beginning to grow-and 45 enthusiastic teachers giving 135 workshops in coming months means they will keep growing. As everyone knows, September is a great month for planting grass. PRESIDENT, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY GEOGRAPHYOUTREACHSYMBOLDESIGNEDBYJUNIORHIGH SCHOOLSTUDENTSIN LOSANGELESANDWASHINGTON,D. C .