Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Random Memory: Geography Class

One day in my seventh grade history/geography class, our teacher
decided to make the class play Pictionary. We were supposed to use
the whiteboard to communicate the name of a place without writing any
words. I know that this was not her idea; she did it because it was
recommended by some kind of syllabus or activity guide.

I went first, and got 'Suez Canal'. I quickly sketched a map of
Egypt, drew the location of the canal, and drew a circle around it.
After about four guesses ( 'Egypt?' 'Cairo?' 'Sinai Peninsula?' 'Suez
Canal?' ) the class got the right answer.

Everyone who went after me started doing the same thing. They drew a
map, pointed to a feature, and the class was able to guess the answer
quickly. It was a fun, fast-paced kind of game show experience, and
we were all getting practice with drawing and reading the maps of
things we had studied.

It was obvious that everyone was having fun. It was equally obvious
that we were learning. Even the wrong guesses were helpful for
memory, because they were usually closely related to the right answer,
and that kind of word association is good for building mental maps of

Then, for some reason, the teacher changed the rules on us. She told
us that we were no longer allowed to draw maps. Of course, the game
went downhill after that. The poor souls who got called up to the
board would have to try to think of a way to communicate something
like 'Nigeria' without any maps or words. It was boring, slow,
stressful, and no fun for anybody. And nobody learned anything or
practiced any useful skill.

I have no idea why the teacher did that. I guess that, for some
reason, she decided that we were not doing what the book said we
should be doing.

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