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Finally, avoiding cultural stereotypes (and correcting cultural stereotypes that students already have in their heads) is one of the most important things to do when teaching the geography of culture. Cultural stereotyping often involves particular peoples’ clothing, food, and/or shelter, which are prominent aspects of cultural ecology. Thus, unless otherwise informed, a student might look at Fig. 10 (see previous page) and conclude that all Native Americans in the southwestern U.S. reside in something that looks like the Taos Pueblo. In reality, the Taos Pueblo is merely a remnant traditional structure. Most of the local people live in more modern-looking homes made of modern construction materials.
Core Knowledge History and Geography
Here is a collage of examples. Concepts of personal privacy in Islamic and Iberian culture regions often explain why residences lack street-level windows. Buddhists regard golden colors as a symbol of enlightenment. That explains why gold-domed temples figure so prominently in cultural landscapes in various parts of Southeast Asia. If the residents of a particular neighborhood were conservative Jews, then that would explain the presence of kosher grocery stores, signs in Hebrew, synagogues, and particular styles of clothing. Because north was a sacred direction to the ancient Mayans, the boulevard-facing facades of their temples were always aligned in a north-south manner (see Fig. 12). Bars and liquor stores are not likely to be found in Muslim neighborhoods because Islam forbids consumption of alcoholic beverages. Cultural interaction may explain the presence—as well as the absence—of particular traits in particular areas. These examples attest to the explanatory power of cultural interaction. But they also demonstrate that religious beliefs often underlie relationships between cultural components. That presents educators with a quandary. Few culture traits have the power and importance of religion. Indeed, religion is often the key to understanding the way of life of a particular cultural community. One needs to tread carefully. Here are some activities to acquaint third graders with the concept of cultural interaction. SUMMATION AND APPLICATION In summary, geography seeks to describe and explain the distribution of phenomena that characterize Earth’s surface. Because culture differentiates human beings and the lands they occupy, it is one of the most important things that geographers study. Accordingly, there is an entire subfield of academic geography devoted to the study of culture: cultural geography. The key concepts of cultural geography are culture region, cultural diffusion, cultural landscape, cultural ecology, and cultural interaction. Each offers insights and activities that an educator might use to teach culture from a geographical point of view. Specifically, that perspective involves the following: These concepts, though distinct, may overlap in ways that help to describe and explain the nature of cultural communities. Here is a closing example. There is a in southeastern Pennsylvania associated with a large Amish population. The sect originated in Europe centuries ago. Their presence in Pennsylvania is the result of —migration to America. The of the Pennsylvania Amish is dominated by dairy farms, so big barns and silos are much in evidence. The fact that they are dairy farms, as opposed to, say, wheat farms, is explained by a local climate favorable to raising dairy cows, and to lucrative and nearby urban markets for their products. These relationships between Amish culture and both the natural and human environments provide examples of . Amish religious beliefs stress separation from "the world." (Indeed, persecution of Amish due to their religious beliefs explains why they left Europe for Pennsylvania in the first place.) The interrelationship between religion and other aspects of Amish culture exemplifies . Fig. 1, top left: Fig. 1, top right:
Cultural ecology focuses on culture-environment interaction in the past as well as the present. Regarding the past, identification and analysis of , regions that in ancient times gave rise to significant cultural complexes, are of particular importance. These include the Nile Valley, the Fertile Crescent (including Mesopotamia), Indus Valley, Huang Ho Valley, and Mesoamerica. Each provides examples of how ancient peoples built impressive civilizations thanks to interaction between humans and fertile river valleys—which gave rise to agricultural surpluses, which in turn freed some people from daily food production and allowed them to develop other pursuits.