Dr. Robert Saveland – Geography Teacher for over 70 Years

GeoInspirations: Robert Saveland – Geography Educator, War Hero, Lifelong Learner By Joseph J. Kerski

Three things learned:

1. Dr. Robert Saveland from Missouri is a boss. He has been teaching geography since world war II, where he served as a communications officer in France. He has seen some of the greatest changes in human history unfold during the course of his lifetime. He has been a member of the NCGE for 60 years.

2. He was inspired by his teacher, principal and professor to pursue his goals. His seventh grade teacher inspired him to study geography. His principal in high school encouraged him to pursue university education, and one of his university professors really helped motivate him to succeed.

3. He is a lifelong learner and still attends NCGE meetings after 60 years of membership. He encourages people to find good mentors and continue to nourish their curiosity.

What a guy!

Why Geography Education Matters – A Perspective from the NCGE

Why Geography Education Matters – National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE)

The article linked above is by the NCGE: an advocacy group that is a century old. It is composed of U.S. and international teachers, professors, students, businesses, and others who support geography education.

The article is a brief essay on the importance of geography education in 21st century schools. Although the bias of the writer is clear in the article, I have to agree that they make a solid point in support of geography education.

Basically, the article presents the study of Geography as an umbrella that governs all subjects. How can one appropriately understand core sciences, social sciences and history if they cannot integrate these disciplines across a global setting?

Rather than an afterthought, this article briefly illuminates why Geography can be the main focus for a large variety of students. One does not have to have a strong academic background to benefit from the study of geography. Knowledge of the processes across the region, province, country and planet is essential to make proper decisions.

I can safely say from experience that I have benefited from the study of Geography in my career. I have lived in seven different towns/cities, and I would have been very confused if I had not studied the regional culture, industry, ecology and topography. Overall, the study of Geography has helped me live a better life, and I hope to transmit my learning to my students across the board.

Data Analysis Skill Acquisition

Data Analysis is relevant to Senior Geography because it is the factual basis on how we can formulate solid opinions and logically solve geographic problems. This skill is specifically transferable to math and science (these subjects may expose the learner to Data Analysis in a more rigorous format).

In a senior geography course, this skill would be developed and reinforced in an activity or inquiry project that involves the collection and analysis of data. For example, students may collect demographic data about their hometown and compare their data to students from other towns. At Almaguin Highlands, the data may be diverse as students come from five to six unique towns.

To ensure that all students can participate regardless of exceptionality, the activity must be collaborative and roles must be assigned to students based on personality, skills and level of challenge. For example, a student with dyslexia may focus on non textual elements of data analysis such as field collection and organization of specimens. This way, each person has an important role and is not seen as a weak link because of their challenges.

In the class I am choosing to focus on (Grade 11 Open – Introduction to Spatial Technologies) I wish to use data analysis as a practical outcome for their work with spatial technologies. The collection and analysis of data gives meaning to why they are using the mapping software and equipment in the first place.

To determine if a student has mastered this skill, I would assess their ability to accurately collect data from a field sample. I would ask them to represent their findings visually in a clear and concise manner. They would be assessed on their ability to explain their findings, and how their findings could guide further inquiry.

In grade 12 and beyond, the ability to analyze data has tremendous importance. All jobs that I have done (25 in 27 years) have involved data analysis (even if the job is non-academic or informal, I am always collecting quantitative and qualitative data and analyzing it to make better decisions). In professional settings, analyzing and presenting data is impressive to shareholders, upper management and colleagues. Presented properly, data representations can impact the direction of an organization. I have worked for companies where this skill has come in handy. When I worked for Cedarport Window and Doors in Thornbury, I was asked to map the locations of their customers to represent their coverage area. I used Batch Geo to do this. This effort helped with marketing efforts and showed zones where improvement was needed.

Overall, knowing how to factually represent large amounts of information is beneficial for deep thought on a personal and organizational level.

Regional Distribution of Clients (Example Activity)

At the workplace level, I would use Batch Geo as a tool. Preferably, data would be self-collected but fake data sets could also be used. After school is over, students may use this tool to make decisions. If people work for businesses that have good customer database software, they can batch upload addresses, postal codes and city data to this app and see what the geographic distribution of their customers is.

Students can analyze these data points to see where their coverage is strong and where it needs improvement. For example, if a business is doing very well in North York but is not able to break into Brampton, perhaps an inquiry can be done to see why or if Brampton is a tough market. The mapping of the coverage area paints a picture of what needs to be done to improve market presence.

Once students have a graphic representation of where their customers are, they can present their findings to the class. Their presentation would be an assessment on not only data analysis skills, but presentation and communication skills as well.

The rubric would assess the following domains:

  1. Visual Representation of Data
  2. Connections to Business and Geographic Community
  3. Presentation and Communication Skills
  4. Accuracy of Data Collection
Geography Skil
Skills required for acquiring Geographic learning

Please let me know what you think. I have worked with a few Open classes by now and I feel that keeping things relevant to their personal lives has been effective thus far!