Example #88 Maps and Values

What if maps helped students to think about what we value?

Cath taught geography and she wanted to change her introductory lesson on maps so that her students saw them as implying stories that reflected values.

"I was teaching about maps as part of a geography unit. I wanted my class to see maps as carrying stories that told something about the society that produced them. Maps have various meanings and tell stories that might be political or about the terrain or about some other factor, depending on the type of map. Each map is part of a bigger story about a place. Land is never just land; it has a history that shapes it and a history that was influenced by the land. It contains important places, and the reasons why they become important differ according to the society and its history.

"I introduced the first lesson with the words: ‘I want to tell you a story …’ and asked the students to say what they would expect to happen next. I followed this by showing different types of maps, and using them to tell a story about an area. Students identified key features on each style of map and discussed why that information had been included and what story it told about the place: the people, their lives and what was important to them and their society. I finished the work on different types of maps by bringing together the ‘story’ about the place the students had deduced.

"As the unit progressed, students looked at old maps online, such as the Mappa Mundi; old maps tell stories about their society and its values. They often include religious references or reflect the influence of faith on how the world is seen. We talked about the different ways a place could be important. The students drew maps of their immediate area. They could decide what they wanted to include, thinking about the story it would tell about what was important to them and what they believed was important about the world around them."

What's going on here?

Cath saw her unit on maps as involving stories that communicate beliefs and values as well as facts – she saw geography learning as connected to faith.

She engaged students in looking at maps through a new framework (storytelling), connecting maps to beliefs and values, and connecting this to their own experience.

To reshape her practice she chose a new frame for the lesson (storytelling), chose examples that would help students make connections and had a faith component, and designed her tasks to raise the students' awareness of the stories and values maps encapsulate (making their own maps, looking at old maps).

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Faith in God who made a meaningful world means that Christians can look for meaning with assurance in all areas of life. Christians do not keep faith in a box marked ‘private’ for it connects with all of life including geography. For Christians, being aware of their own values can make them aware of the values being communicated through the things they encounter – including maps. Teachers can encourage students to stop and think about the values being communicated and not just accept them unreflectively.

What difference does it make?

Cath raised her students' awareness concerning how we communicate values by things we make and the way we live. Rather than presenting maps as neutral, objective sources of information, she raised the awareness of her students concerning how we use maps to signal what is important to us.

Where could we go from here?

Raising awareness of values through small changes in our teaching can happen across the curriculum. In science, for instance, we can look at what diseases attract funding for research. The selection of material in history tells us about ourselves as well as the past.

Digging deeper

How we live matters, but a lack of consensus in the world concerning values leads some to try to side-step this issue by labelling certain areas of life as ‘values-free’. For Christians there is no such thing. There is no neutral ground. All life is God’s and Christian values affect everything.
This is a moral universe, and you've got to take account of the fact that truth and lies and goodness and evil are things that matter. Desmond Tutu
The term ‘values’ is used in many schools but it can be rather abstract. Virtues are values expressed in character. The perfect expression of this was Jesus whom Christians are called upon to imitate; he is the ‘measure’ of what humanity could be (1 John 2:6).
The fruits of the Spirit are examples of Christian virtues: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). 2 Peter 1:5-7 offers another list of Christian virtues.

Explore similar examples:

What if learning about map projections were about fairness?
What if geography looked at the spiritual dimension of people and places?
What if looking at the local area helped children to see people as wholes?
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1My children, I am writing this so that you won't sin. But if you do sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. 2Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world's people. 3When we obey God, we are sure that we know him. 4But if we claim to know him and don't obey him, we are lying and the truth isn't in our hearts. 5We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know that we belong to him. 6If we say we are his, we must follow the example of Christ. 7My dear friends, I am not writing to give you a new commandment. It is the same one that you were first given, and it is the message you heard. 8But it really is a new commandment, and you know its true meaning, just as Christ does. You can see the darkness fading away and the true light already shining. 9If we claim to be in the light and hate someone, we are still in the dark. 10But if we love others, we are in the light, and we don't cause problems for them. 11If we hate others, we are living and walking in the dark. We don't know where we are going, because we can't see in the dark. 12Children, I am writing to you, because your sins have been forgiven in the name of Christ. 13Parents, I am writing to you, because you have known the one who was there from the beginning. Young people, I am writing to you, because you have defeated the evil one. 14Children, I am writing to you, because you have known the Father. Parents, I am writing to you, because you have known the one who was there from the beginning. Young people, I am writing to you, because you are strong. God's message is firm in your hearts, and you have defeated the evil one. 15Don't love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. 16Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. 17The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live for ever. The enemy of Christ 18Children, this is the last hour. You heard that the enemy of Christ would appear at this time, and many of Christ's enemies have already appeared. So we know that the last hour is here. 19These people came from our own group, yet they were not part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But they left, which proves that they did not belong to our group. 20Christ, the Holy One, has blessed you, and now all of you understand. 21I did not need to write to you about the truth, since you already know it. You also know that liars do not belong to the truth. 22And a liar is anyone who says that Jesus isn't truly Christ. Anyone who says this is an enemy of Christ and rejects both the Father and the Son. 23If we reject the Son, we reject the Father. But if we say that we accept the Son, we have the Father. 24Keep thinking about the message you first heard, and you will always be one in your heart with the Son and with the Father. 25The Son has promised us eternal life. 26I am writing to warn you about those people who are misleading you. 27But Christ has blessed you with the Holy Spirit. Now the Spirit stays in you, and you don't need any teachers. The Spirit is truthful and teaches you everything. So stay united in your heart with Christ, just as the Spirit has taught you to do. Children of God 28Children, stay united in your hearts with Christ. Then when he returns, we will have confidence and won't have to hide in shame. 29You know that Christ always does right and that everyone who does right is a child of God.
1Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don't ever become slaves of the Law again. 2I, Paul, promise you that Christ won't do you any good if you get circumcised. 3If you do, you must obey the whole Law. 4And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his wonderful kindness. 5But the Spirit makes us sure that God will accept us because of our faith in Christ. 6If you are a follower of Christ Jesus, it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or not. All that matters is your faith that makes you love others. 7You were doing so well until someone made you turn from the truth. 8And that person was certainly not sent by the one who chose you. 9A little yeast can change a whole batch of dough, 10but you belong to the Lord. That makes me certain that you will do what I say, instead of what someone else tells you to do. Whoever is causing trouble for you will be punished. 11My friends, if I still preach that people need to be circumcised, why am I in so much trouble? The message about the cross would no longer be a problem, if I told people to be circumcised. 12I wish that everyone who is upsetting you would not only get circumcised, but would cut off much more! 13My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don't use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. 14All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. 15But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves. God's Spirit and our own desires 16If you are guided by the Spirit, you won't obey your selfish desires. 17The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should. 18But if you obey the Spirit, the Law of Moses has no control over you. 19People's desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. 20They worship idols, practise witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are 21envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: no one who does these things will share in the blessings of God's kingdom. 22God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, 23gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. 24And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. 25God's Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. 26But don't be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are. Help each other
1From Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. To everyone who shares with us in the privilege of believing that our God and Saviour Jesus Christ will do what is just and fair. 2I pray that God will be kind to you and will let you live in perfect peace! May you keep learning more and more about God and our Lord Jesus. 3We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God's own power, when we learnt that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. 4God made great and marvellous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world. 5Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, 6self-control, patience, devotion to God, 7concern for others, and love. 8If you keep growing in this way, it will show that what you know about our Lord Jesus Christ has made your lives useful and meaningful. 9But if you don't grow, you are like someone who is nearsighted or blind, and you have forgotten that your past sins are forgiven. 10My friends, you must do all you can to show that God has really chosen and selected you. If you keep on doing this, you won't stumble and fall. 11Then our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will give you a glorious welcome into his kingdom that will last for ever. 12You are holding firmly to the truth that you were given. But I am still going to remind you of these things. 13In fact, I think I should keep on reminding you until I leave this body. 14And our Lord Jesus Christ has already told me that I will soon leave it behind. 15That is why I am doing my best to make sure that each of you remembers all this after I am gone. 16When we told you about the power and the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were not telling clever stories that someone had made up. But with our own eyes we saw his true greatness. 17God, our great and wonderful Father, truly honoured him by saying, This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him. 18We were there with Jesus on the holy mountain and heard this voice speak from heaven. 19All this makes us even more certain that what the prophets said is true. So you should pay close attention to their message, as you would to a lamp shining in some dark place. You must keep on paying attention until daylight comes and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20But you need to realize that no one alone can understand any of the prophecies in the Scriptures. 21The prophets did not think these things up on their own, but they were guided by the Spirit of God.