Where in the world is Brunei?

How many times in your life had you had someone ask you that?

Okay, well, if they haven’t, yet, what would you do if they had?  Would you know the answer off the top of your head?  Could you instantly point to it on a map? Or do you have a plan to get that information?

I really thought the days of neatly colouring the 48 countries in Asia on a map, numbering and labelling each one with a sharp HP pencil were gone, but I guess not since it is an assignment that I have seen lately.

I shake my head at these types of assignments and hold myself back from asking the teacher what exactly the purpose of the exercise is.  By Grade Six, I’m pretty sure the kids can colour pretty well.  I am not sure, after telling them to jam the labelling of 48 countries onto an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper that I can accurately assess their printing skills or spelling skills because I can’t even read them.  Nor would I want to assess that work from 28 kids.  And I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to remember all the locations after that exercise.  I know because I watched the kid do the assignment and *I* don’t remember.

But it started a heated discussion in our home between myself and my husband.  My argument was that it was an unnecessary task because the geographical locations of countries can be easily researched and found within minutes on one of the many devices we have in our home or on our persons.  I believe in learning being relevant and meaningful.  If Brunai was in the news  and it was a topic being discussed, then by all means, look it up.  My husband’s argument was, “It’s a good thing to learn.”  To which I replied, “Is this the best way?”

Maybe I just hated doing maps.  Maybe I would just hate marking them.  Maybe I’m the only one who can’t identify all 48 Asian countries on a map, instantly.  But with all the technology and information at our fingertips, I just think some of these ‘old school’ tasks can be and should be replaced with giving kids the tools to find information when they need it, making connections to their lives, their learning, and hopefully helping them understand and retain the information more efficiently.

I definitely don’t disagree with learning where Asia or any other region is in the world.  I think we need a basic knowledge of those things.  I just wonder if the time spent on that particular task couldn’t have been used more efficiently.

Thoughts?

Oh, and in case you are wondering:

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