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Talk About Schools and Schooling with Students

Posted on September 12 2021

Talk About Schools and Schooling with Students

Dear Educators,

The start of a new year is a great time to talk about schools and schooling with your students. For children, school is a major part of their lives and experience. They often spend more of their waking hours in school than at home, especially as students age. Many do extracurricular activities, such as participating in sports, band, or assorted clubs and organizations. But how much do students think about school itself? What was school like before industrialization, for example? How much does school cost? How many people achieve bachelor’s degrees compared to high school diplomas? How does assigned homework in America compare with that in schools around the world? With COVID-19 still keeping students out of the classroom, what are best practices for doing schoolwork at home? This week’s GeoJournal Newsletter highlights the many resources that answer these questions as we at Maps101 explore school and schooling this week.

Geography News Network

First, let’s take a look at what schooling was like in the 1800s, before industrialization. Back then, school was held in a single-classroom building with all grades attending together. Schools were much smaller. However, unlike today, students did not come from far away. Most walked to school. This meant there were more of these single-room schoolhouses, spread throughout the community. This exclusive GNN article will provide more detail about what school was like in America’s past.

Geography News Network

Today, schooling is mandatory, and public school is provided for free for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Many schools even provide courses that count toward college education credits, also for free. However, schooling itself is expensive. The costs for school are covered not at the federal level but by each state. States use property taxes to pay for schooling. Students may not think about how much school costs or how it is paid for, but it is an important topic. For example, schools located where people have higher incomes and pay higher property taxes have more money for schooling than those in lower-income neighborhoods. Does this affect the quality of the education American students receive? Take a dive into the cost of going to school with this GNN article.


The U.S. Census provides population statistics on a wide variety of topics, such as income, ethnicity, employment, and education. While the census data for 2020 is still being compiled, Maps101 has found data for 2019 that illustrates the students who achieve high school diplomas or bachelor’s degrees. 

Geography News Network

Part of students’ education continues at home, whether they are in a classroom or studying directly on the internet from home. They still must continue to process the information discussed through homework assignments. These assignments help gauge student understanding, reinforce the lesson, or help prepare students for the next day’s learning. Look at this article to find out more about homework in other parts of the world.

Geography News Network

Many states and districts are having students return to classrooms. However, many others are not or have adopted a hybrid model. Some students and families have a choice. Those who are still at home can benefit from a refresher on managing schoolwork from home, which is the topic of this GNN article written when COVID-19 began to affect everyone, including students. 


Defending Have students review each of the Geography News Network articles and pick which was the most compelling to them. Have them explain why they picked it. They should also identify what they learned from it. Hold a class election to pick which of these GNN articles comes out on top with your students. Feel free to share the winner with us and the reasons students gave. Email us at

Discussing Each of the Geography News Network articles includes critical-thinking questions at the end that can be used to engage students in classroom discussion. Use them as prompts.

Asking Questions You can also encourage students, before they read an article, to create their own lists of questions they want answered, inspired by looking at the title and predicting what the article will be about. Then, see if there are any questions that remain and help students research to answer them.

Comparing Using the provided maps, compare the data about educational attainment. What conclusions can students draw from the information? Are there trends that are revealed by looking at all three maps? Take a classroom poll to see which students intend to continue past high school. Does your class follow the state average? If not, how does it differ? Why?

High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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