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Education: Where is the Leadership in the Canadian Geomatics Community?

In previous postings on GoGeomatics Canada  (GIS in the School System & GIS Partnerships Between the Community and the Education System) I recounted my past experiences with recognizing the essential inclusion of using GPS and GIS in the school system to teach students geospatial thinking skills. A teacher affects the future and does not only focus on the now but on where a student may be going in choosing a career or making a contribution as a citizen. Good citizens need critical thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation). I stressed that educators and their students need the support of the community and we need advocacy from within the geomatics world. We know that the Canadian geomatics/geospatial community is a large and diverse one.

We have also identified that we have not made much progress in influencing the K-12 curriculum in general, as I recalled from my own experience. There are pockets of inclusion, mainly in Ontario and Manitoba. GIS use in the schools in the US is widespread, but not mainstream.

Several contributors to GoGeomatics Canada have called for a unified vision for the geomatics community. The most recent was an excellent analysis by James Boxall.  It’s time for a Moon Shot for the Spatial Sector in Canada! I am shocked by the lack of response. This in the country that nurtured geomatics/GIS?

I spent this fall, as I suspect most of you did, on the conference circuit. I am amazed at the expertise of the dynamic people I meet and I come away newly invigorated and inspired by these connections. The weeks following are a rush of connecting, sharing ideas, and making plans. Then things start to fizzle towards Christmas and the winter doldrums seem to set in. Yes, we all have work commitments, families, and it IS flu season. But we also live in an age of instant communication, where we can have a virtual community. The other exacerbating fly in the ointment is that there are TOO MANY social groups. We need ONE with a clear mandate. We have to get our act together. Either we are in or we keep doing the same old.

A gift was handed to us this past week in perfect timing with James Boxall’s entry. I invite you to read the following articles (listed chronologically):

Students Don’t Know Geography

Lost Without a map despite a Globalized Society University Students can’t locate the Atlantic Ocean

When it Comes to Geography are we Lost n the World?

Discovery Takes Work

When something is brought to the attention of the public, and it relates to us (geospatialists) we should become more proactive. If we do not push, it will quickly disappear again.

I manage the Twitter account for @CanGeoEdu (Canadian Geographic Education). One can make many observations in such a position. Let me share some with you:

  • Most of the interest in the account comes from the geospatial world.
  • Most of the support comes from geospatialists in the US, in Europe, and Australia/New Zealand and Brazil.
  • Geography is not on the radar in Canadian education circles.
  • On the radar are technology, STEM, and social justice issues. Failure to connect these to geography is evident.
  • Last week’s articles have been retreated around the world, yet the Canadian geospatial community is silent. (Like with James Boxall’s post) Why?
  • Tweets from the education community in Canada re technology/STEM never list GIS as a hot technology. When you ask them why it was not included, they never answer back.

This article was also linked on Twitter last week. No “geo”. This has implications for all of us for the future. This is a group that needs our influence.


We have to get in the game. You are all intelligent enough to reflect on the consequences and the course of action. K12 geographic education needs your help. We owe it to our children.

3 comments on "Education: Where is the Leadership in the Canadian Geomatics Community?"

  1. Fiona says:

    Funny, because, when I took Geography at university, people would always say “What are you going to be, a teacher?”

    1. Peggy March says:

      Geography and geography strands are still undervalued,underappreciated, and not taught correctly (if at all)in the school system. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding geography that need to be corrected.

  2. Hey, Peggy Good to know there are people like you who see things as they are.
    Last time I was talking about universities and career choice with my grand kids, I noticed how little they know about Geomatics Engineering, Surveying or Geo-tech.
    The University of Calgary which the boys all express interest in said Geomatics is a profession that is in growing demand in Canada and internationally.
    None of these kids have a clue what it’s about.
    Following you on twitter already.

Comments are closed.

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