Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Local Geography Lesson

12th grade English. And they were assigned a book to read. The Andromeda Strain.

(My senior English teacher assigned us books like A Separate Peace and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Boo!)

Of course, they were not impressed. So, I started them off as best as I could, noting in the first couple pages that there was mention of the Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Mojave Desert. Both of which the students managed to mangle.

So, I asked the pertinent question. Did they know where this story took place?

A couple of them noted that in the first paragraph on the first page, we were told they were in Arizona. The rest?

I asked where the Mojave Desert was, and I got answers ranging from Asia to the Middle East to Africa. And they'd never heard of Vandenberg. (Although that's not surprising. It's 3 hours north of us.)

So, I asked the next logical question. Had any of them driven to Las Vegas? At least half the class raised their hands.

"You've all driven through the Mojave Desert."

Student: "That's that dry nothing?"

Yep, pretty much.

So, at least they learned something in class.


  1. Dropping by from the A-Z list. I'm a fellow teacher, and this got me chuckling. The lack of geography knowledge never fails to amaze and concern me.

  2. I thought the Andromeda Strain was okay, but I absolutely hated A Separate Piece. What I wouldn't give to be one of your students.

    That dry nothing. Best description ever.

  3. Hey, I liked A Separate Peace.

    LOL. I love that. It's so great making connections with these young minds.


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